Carolina Panthers, Def, Panthers
|Def - #9||161.47||CAR||Active||46||0' 0||0|
2015 Outlook: Solid/Safe PickLast updated on Aug-20-2015 by Shawn Childs
The Panthers will face three teams with solid rushing offenses: the Seahawks, Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys. They potentially have seven favorable games against below-par ground attacks: The Falcons (twice), Titans, New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (twice). Carolina will finish the season against four teams that were weak in run offense last year. The Panthers' pass defense has the second-toughest schedule thanks to matchups against the Saints (twice), Falcons (twice) and Colts. They also have to stop the Packers and the NFC East's quality offenses. Over the first five games of the year, Carolina has four favorable matchups in the passing game: the Jacksonville Jaguars, Texans, Bucs and Seahawks. Then they have only two favorable matchups for the rest of the year: the Titans and Bucs.
Carolina permitted the 16th-most rushing yards (1,792). They allowed 4.5 yards per rush, tied for fourth-most. This defense didn't give up more rushing yards because opponents averaged only 24.8 carries per game, about two carries fewer than the league average. The Panthers gave up 14 rushing TDs and a league-high five runs of 40 yards or more. The Panthers had 40 sacks and allowed the 11th-fewest passing yards (3,645). They gave up 25 passing touchdowns and snatched 14 interceptions.
Defensive end Charles Johnson led Carolina's pass rush (10.5 sacks, 11 QB hits and 53 QB hurries). He has registered 52 sacks over the past five years. He played his best ball over the final eight games of the year when he racked up 6.5 sacks and was very good at stopping the run. Defensive tackle Kawann Short has played well in all areas through his first two NFL seasons. He was the Panthers' best run defender last year and picked up five sacks, six QB hits and 22 QB hurries. DT Star Lotulelei was a solid run defender as a rookie in 2013 after Carolina selected him 14th overall. He wasn't quite as good against the run in 2014. Star has limited upside as a pass rusher (two sacks, three QB hits, and 15 QB hurries last season). Kony Ealy appears to be the best option to replace Greg Hardy at right defensive end. However, he was a liability against the run and did minimal damage in the pass rush (four sacks, five QB hits and 10 QB hurries).
Linebacker Thomas Davis continued to play at a high level in his 10th year in the league. Davis adds value in run support and when rushing the QB. Yet the best part of his game comes in pass coverage (only allowed 6.5 yards per catch). LB Luke Kuechly has been one of the game's best. He is a plus run defender and is also asked to cover often. He faced 87 pass attempts last year and allowed 516 yards with two touchdowns. Luke has occasional value when rushing the QB (three sacks, one QB hit and 12 QB hurries). Rookie first-rounder Shaq Thompson is expected to start at the other LB position. Shaq will add speed and power to this defense, but his lack of size (6 feet, 228 pounds) may lead to him being neutralized in the pass rush.
Carolina Panthers LB Luke Kuechly
Cornerback Josh Norman played pretty well in coverage after moving into the starting lineup in Week 8 (29 catches in 62 attempts for 311 yards and one touchdown). CB Bene Benwikere started the last six games of his rookie season and even though he allowed a high completion rate (67.2), he did a good job of keeping the play in front of him (10.7 yards per catch). He allowed only one TD on 61 pass attempts.
Safety Roman Harper was a slight negative in run support, and missed tackles led to him allowing most of his yards after the catch. Tre Boston is expected to start at strong safety. He, like Norman and Benwikere, helped stabilize this secondary late last year. The 2014 fourth-rounder offered no worse than average value against the run and the pass once he entered the starting lineup.
This team has talent on the defensive line and at linebacker. Carolina made some nice changes to its secondary during the 2014 season to improve the pass coverage. Their run defense still needs to step up. The Panthers have a tough schedule this year, especially against the pass. I don't see a ton of playmakers, which limits the defense's scoring opportunities. I see them more as a backup Fantasy defense with their most value coming over the first third of the season.
2015 Mock Draft Results
August 5th, 2015
|15.08||Team Davis - Young defense that seemed to get better as the year went on last season. (Comments Added Tue Aug 4 2:00:51 a.m. ET 2015)|
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