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What exactly do we really have on the defensive depth chart?

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I have some assumptions about players currently on the roster and wonder what others have to say about them. This is significant because it impacts our needs. I am adding my thoughts beside each player--please comment by adding your perspectives.

Sione Fua, NT: I never liked the pick, but many DTs take a few years to develop. I have heard Kalil and others talk about his potential. It is easy to call him a dog now, but is he about to bloom?

Frank Kearse, NT: I could never understand why we released him, but he played fairly well after we brought him back. How good is he and how good can he be? I do not really know.

Nate Chandler, DT: Chander was raw at UCLA, converting from another position to DT. That process has continued at Carolina, where they seem to like him. I see no pass rush yet, but he has been ok in run support. Maybe solid depth? Maybe enough to forget about under tackle (because Hardy and Alexander move inside on many passing downs).?

DJ Campbell, S: We have to be careful about signing praises because our players were good during the last six games because our schedule was weak. However, I did not see Campbell making plays, but I did not see plays being made on Campbell. How good is he? Where should he play? I am guessing that he moves to FS behind Gamble and Nakamura and Mitchell man the SS spot.

James Dockery, CB: At 6' 1', Dockery is the big corner teams like. He started the last 4 games of the season, and the Panthers won all of them. He averaged 4.5 tackles per game. That is all that I know. How good is he?

Josh Norman, CB: Norman was not good in 2012, but most rookie CBs aren't, He was burned and picked on. A fifth rounder asked to start. Still, there is something there. Maybe just depth, but expect him to learn and grow this offseason.

Josh Thomas, CB: The cowboys drafted Thomas, needing immediate help at CB. When the learning curve proved to be too steep, Thomas was released and landed with the Panthers, He has been watching and learning for 2 years. He has the tools. I am very high on him, and think his growth will continue this offseason because he is now confident. I think he becomes our #1 CB.

In other words, our developmental players on defense are big question marks. What will their roles be?

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I like Kearse and was scratching my head when we released him. Glad RR came to his senses.

Have a good group of young CBs. I think we will be ok with them.

My only concern is with the S spots. Bad S play cost us a few games last year.

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Sione Fua, NT: Fua seems kinda soft for his position. I don't think he will ever be more than what he is right now. Any scrub we bring in to play NT seems to play better so I think this could be his last chance to show us something.

Frank Kearse, NT: Kearse is one of those players that has outplayed Fua. I think he can at least be a solid backup nose tackle in this league.

Nate Chandler, DT: can't really say much about Nate. He's kinda just there. I think if we bring in a NT with one of our draft picks, he won't even be on the final roster.

DJ Campbell, S: DJ showed a lot of promise for a 7th rounder. I'm not gonna go ahead and call him the future but he's definitely a smart player and has a good nose for the ball. At worst he's a solid special teamer.

James Dockery, CB: I actually just found out that my best friends roommate played highschool ball with Dockery and they still talk every week, so that obviously makes me want to keep him around haha. But his play towards the end of the season also warranted him a spot on this team as at least a back up corner.

Josh Norman, CB: Josh has a lot of potential and I'm nowhere close to giving up on him yet. His speed is suspect and he has a bad habit of playing the ball instead of his man, but he is a 5th round rookie. He has that swagger you want in a DB though and you just can't teach that. I like players that think they are the best and he is one of them.

Josh Thomas, CB: Pinhead Larry is a baller, and I hope our coaches realize that. He did nothing to lose his spot on this team, and if his name was Brandon Hogan everyone would be buying his jersey.

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Josh Thomas- has been very impressive to me. It started in preseason and was highlighted by his pass defense to seal the win against Miami as time expired to seal the win. He progressed very well as the season went on and believe as it sits right now he is def. our # 1 corner.

Josh Norman- I don't ever remember him getting "burned" by anyone except that time he tripped and I think it was Ramses Barden who beat him deep. Never really understood the method to the madness(must be a slow back pedal?) but they always had him playing far off his man, almost like he was a safety and this allowed easy passes underneath but he generally closed quickly too.

Dockery- His play really escapes my memory, mostly because I was so disenchanted with Rivera by the time he got some playing time(the last 4 games) and I don't think I was watching as intensely or as sober as I previously was. So I am leaning on PFF for my thoughts on him. Looks like he was just okay if not below average in in limited playing time.He spent 120 snaps in coverage, was targeted 16 times, gave up 12 catches for 148 yards.

Fua- After the 2011 season I purchased the nfl rewind package or whatever the hell they call it. When looking back he was much better than the average huddler thought. I tried telling everyone of the 2 he was better than McClain. He regressed for some damn reason in 12. I am not counting on this guy by any means and I don't think anyone else should either but this is a make or break year for his career so we'll see what he's made of.

Kearse- I just don't see it personally.Looks like your average Journeyman DT and a decent backup but not starter material to me.

Chandler- I feel like I don't even know the guy since he hardly played and was just rotated in in a few games.

Campbell- Not to be trusted at all. The secondary looked better with the combo of him at SS and Godfrey taking over FS but it was a very small sample size. Too early to pass firm judgement on him either way but he needs to beat out Mike Mitchell in training camp to retain his job.

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Thanks for the feedback. I think Josh Thomas is a keeper, Norman is a wildcard. Dockery is good depth. Watch DJ Moore and Captain find time. Florence may have a year left.

About Campbell--drafted for his special teams play, he is good depth. I read the Oakland boards when we got Mitchell and they liked him. TThey think he was held back and not turned loose. Think Chris Harris. Hard hitter, not great in coverage, but he can cover a TE. The more I read about him, the more I like the acquisition.

I love Kearse as the second guy in the rotation. We need a starting NT--Can Cole give us a year? Look for a later round NT. I am almost done with Fua.

finally, Dwan re-signing was nice, but I want a stud DT to rotate with him. I am not sure that Hardy and Alexander are not the third round DT, as one moves inside. So, do we need a stud 3 technique who can rush the passer? Hardy is 290 and had amazing hands and a high motor.

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