Cam Newton has had two amazing seasons in the NFL. He's coming into his third season which for most positions is when they begin to break out. According to some experts this can take up until year 5 for QBs. Cam is only going to get better and better. Being able to retain Derek Anderson as well as provide legitimate competition for Jimmy Clausen is only going to make the QBs better.
DWill is on the decline and JStew has head health issues since he's been with the team. Mike Tobert, thank you. Tauren Poole showed a lot of promise last season and we were able to IR him after a concussion. I believe that he'll provide competition for Kenjon Barner who I see as DWill's understudy. It is also established that Armond Smith is the fastest player on the team. However, I don't see these young guys being able to make up for DWill's declining production and JStew's constant foot/ankle/toe issues. If it weren't for Mike Tolbert I would be worried.
I'll believe that Steve Smith is no longer a #1 WR when I see it (which I haven't). Brandon LaFell has shown steady improvement but I'm not convinced it's enough to be a #2 that will take some pressure off of Smitty. The addition of Hixon and Ginn Jr though is huge as Hixon is a much better WR than Louis Murphy and Ginn Jr is a much better WR/ST contributor than Armanti, Pilares, and Adams. One of those 3 will be gone and I'm willing to bet that it will be Pilares unless Joe Adams continues to punt muffs... I mean muff punts... Armanti has been getting press lately but he always has during the offseason. Regardless, Hixon and Ginn Jr are much better than anybody not named Steve Smith and possibly Brandon LaFell on the roster.
Gary Barnidge was apparently good enough for Chud to take with him as a legitimate contender for the #1 TE position in Cleveland. Say what you will about his playcalling, Chud knows tight ends. Ben Hartsock is more of a blocking tight end and will fit the run scheme better (hopefully), but having two TEs that can block and catch passes is so effective as we saw with Shockey and Olsen.
Ryan Kalil coming back instantly makes the offensive line better. Silatolu showed improvement as the season went on as well. Kugbila could be quality depth until he's ready to contend for a starting position. I am concerned about the tackles though, especially RT. Gross can still play, but will Byron Bell finally be able to take the roller skates off?
I don't even have to talk about this.
Quality depth at the position with a returning Beason, healthy Davis, and a year 2 Kuechly. This kind of speaks for itself as well.
Yes, Chris Gamble didn't contribute much as he was injured last season, but nobody threw to his side of the field. It wasn't worth it. Now we have no true #1 nor #2 CB. We have two NBs and two young guys that are at best back-ups. Josh Thomas has been stepping it up though, and I believe in Captain Munnerlyn. If Drayton Florence still has something in the tank, we might be salvageable at best.
Godfrey is being moved back to FS where he is comfortable and has produced while Mike Mitchell will likely start at SS. Either way you look at it, this is an improvement over Nakamura or Campbell starting in the back field.