The Carolina Panthers have little depth in their secondary with the release of veteran cornerbacks Drayton Florence and Chris Gamble as well as the injury to Haruki Nakamura. Nakamura has been diagnosed with a concussion after their final preseason game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. With Nakamura out, the Panthers have no official backup for Mike Mitchell at strong safety. Acquiring free agent Quintin Mikell was a solid addition that will add a lot of skill and many years of experience to the defensive secondary.
Mikell is an 11-year veteran who was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2003. Mikell has been a solid and healthy safety who reached the Pro Bowl in 2009 and was with the Eagles when they reached the NFC Championship game in 2004. He has recorded a total of 636 tackles, 12 interceptions, and 16 forced fumbles in his career. He is a strong player and will have the most experience on the Panthers’ defense. Last season he had an exceptional year with the St. Louis Rams and was considered top 5 in his demanding position. Mikell has an advantage coming to Carolina because he has already worked with defensive coordinator Sean McDermott when they were both in Philadelphia. Even with Mikell’s age, expect him to get a shot at the starting safety position, potentially beating out Mitchell.
Mitchell is a fantastic addition to the Panthers’ defense who the team picked up from free agency in March of this year. Mitchell was selected in the 2009 draft by the Oakland Raiders. He has been a solid player for the Raiders, both on defense in the safety position and also on special teams. He is younger than Mikell and doesn’t quite have the experience or numbers to make a fair comparison yet. Mitchell led the Panthers defense in total tackles this preseason with 15. He is a good young player, so expect the competition between him and Mikell to boost his performance and production numbers on the field. If Mikell can’t handle the pressure, Mitchell should be more than ready to step in and take his spot.