Now that I have had a chance to see the 2018 Carolina Panthers squad in person, it is time for a projection of the final roster. With Marty Hurney now at the helm, I will try to pull from years past and his tendencies which hopefully does not include multiple kickers on the roster this season. This projection is guaranteed to be 100% accurate, until it isn’t. Let us begin.
Quarterbacks (2) Cam Newton, Free Agent
Derek Anderson is no longer with the team, which was the right call to make. Anderson looked pretty bad last season, and if the purpose of a second string QB is to squeak out a win when needed, the Panthers needed to move on. Ron Rivera says he believes the next backup QB is on the roster currently, but I don’t think it is. What is he supposed to say when asked? “Nah, these guys won’t make the cut”? I look for a free agent to be brought in eventually to back up Cam Newton, familiarity with Norv Turner a plus.
Running Backs (3) CJ Anderson, Christian McCaffrey, Cameron Artis-Payne
This is a pretty complete group if I do say so myself. Anderson and McCaffrey are perfect compliments to each other. Anderson also has shown pretty soft hands in practice, which should open up all sorts of possibilities for Norv Turner.
Fullback (1) Alex Armah
Armah has seen more time with the first and second string in practice this year, which is exactly what I needed to see from him. Throw in his special teams ability and I believe he makes the roster once again this season.
Wide Receivers (6) Devin Funchess, Torrey Smith, Curtis Samuel, Jarius Wright, DJ Moore, Damiere Byrd
Honestly, this is the best shape the receivers have been in since, well, since I can remember. Don’t sleep on Jarius Wright, he could turn out to be a clutch 3rd down play maker for the Carolina Panthers this season. Some were speculating that Torrey Smith might not be a roster lock. After watching practice, I can assure you that is not the case.
Tight Ends (3) Greg Olsen, Chris Manhertz, Ian Thomas
Ian Thomas likely won’t see much playing time this season, but Hurney won’t risk putting this high ceiling rookie on the practice squad. Pray that Greg Olsen stays healthy, because there is a huge step down in production should he not be able to go.
Offensive Line (10) Matt Kalil, Taylor Moton, Ryan Kalil, Trai Turner, Daryl Williams, Greg Van Roten, Amini Silatolu, Tyler Lawson, Jeremiah Sirles, Kyle Bosch
This is the group that raises the eyebrows of Carolina Panthers fans. The biggest question here is at left guard and who will replace Andrew Norwell. At this point, I have no idea. It seems everyone and their uncle has seen time at left guard in practice. It will be well into training camp until we know who the front runner is.
Defensive Line (9) Julius Peppers, Kawann Short, Dontari Poe, Mario Addison, Vernon Butler, Kyle Love, Daeshon Hall, Marquis Haynes, Wes Horton
Hardly anyone is talking about the prospect of Short and Poe playing next to each other this season, but I am excited to see it. Pressure on the QB from up the middle is something that can transform any defense. I am curious to see what the Carolina Panthers have in store for Marquis Haynes. I don’t think we will know until the season starts, those cards will be kept close to the vest.
Linebackers (6) Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, David Mayo, Jared Norris, Jermaine Carter
Here is a group you really don’t need to worry about. I like Jared Norris to be kept over Ben Jacobs, mainly because he is three years younger. Andre Smith could take over Jermaine Carter, but I don’t see two rookies making this squad. For now, I will go with the 5th round pick over the 7th.
Corners (6) James Bradberry, Donte Jackson, Captain Munnerlyn, Kevon Seymour, Corn Elder, Ross Cockrell
Captain Munnerlyn has said he has renewed focus this year and expects more playing time, but somehow I think if there is a surprise veteran cut this season it could be him. There is no shortage of talented young nickels on the roster, and the Carolina Panthers could save some money by releasing the 10 year veteran.
Safeties (4) Mike Adams, Da’Norris Searcy, Rashaan Gaulden, Colin Jones
This is another position of concern. Should a starter go down, it gets real thin real quick. I don’t expect Gaulden to see much playing time this season unless injuries mandate it. Colin Jones will make the team again, and will again get undeserved shade from many Panthers fans.
Special Teams (3) Graham Gano, Michael Palardy, JJ JansenAgree? Disagree? You can sound off right here with thousands of Carolina Panthers fans.