Nate Chandler Future Left Tackle?
Byron Bell says that he will be the starting left tackle this season for the Panthers.
Nate Chandler says not so fast.
"Let the cards fall where they may" Chandler said after practice. "Right now I'm playing both tackles, Byron is playing both tackles. Where we end up, that is where we are going to do into the season."
Chandler feels that last season, playing guard for the first time was a confidence boost. He realized then that he has the ability to play at the highest level with guys who have been at their positions for over a decade in some cases.
Chandler looks like he has slimmed down a bit, and will tell you he has dropped a few pounds this offseason. If I had to compare how he looks to previous Panthers physically, I would probably go with none other than Jordan Gross. Chandler and Gross both stand 6'4 and currently only 5 pounds in weight separate the two. Byron Bell, at 340lbs according to the Panthers official OTA roster, is 35 pounds heavier than Gross ever was.
After watching the two at both positions, I am not so sure Byron's prediction will be true. Bell historically has done well against the bull rush of a strong end, but struggled frequently against the speed rush. He was often taken out of the play immediately by slower footwork.
Nate Chandler, however, has the strength and agility to defend both speed and bull rushes. Where he is lacking is experience... for now.
"Every day there is a new task that I try to attack" said Chandler. "I go home and watch tape to see what I need to work on, then come out tomorrow and try to fix those things."
A strong possibility is that Bell and Chandler could continue to swap positions, at least occasionally, through the mini camp and possibly training camp. Chandler needs to show daily improvement if he hopes to maintain the left tackle prospect. If Chandler shows he hits too much of a developmental pause, Bell will get the job full time.