The secondary was the Carolina Panthers‘ greatest weakness last season, where their lack of talent and depth got mowed over in the wake of this increasingly pass-happy league. There is optimism this year though, but not all coming from the secondary. The Panthers’ front seven, particularly the defensive line, has suddenly become dominant. The added pressure provided by the front four, combined with exceptional coverage skills of the linebacking corps, should take a considerable amount of pressure off the secondary. In addition, second-year corner Josh Norman had a sensational preseason and appears to be becoming the player we all thought he could be. Here’s a look at the Panthers’ secondary.
The Panthers lack a legitimate shutdown corner, something every team has to have nowadays. Captain Munnerlynn is solid player, but will struggle against players like Roddy White and Vincent Jackson. Josh Norman has flashed his potential as previously stated, but has yet to translate it into the regular season. Josh Thomas will see time as the nickel corner, and while he may be able to survive in the NFC South where there are no premier slot receivers, he would have a lot of trouble against someone like Victor Cruz. Behind those three are James Dockery, Melvin White and D.J. Moore, all of which are backups who can make solid contributions in the rotation. Moore is the only one with starting experience, doing so with the Chicago Bears. The cornerback position is looking better than last year, but the unit is still one of the Panthers’ weakest.
Charles Godfrey has been playing on the fringe of Pro Bowl level for a few years now, but has never quite made the grade. He is still the Panthers best defensive back, and his hard hits speak for themselves. Recently signed Quintin Mikell played well against the Seahawks, getting his hands on a few balls. He will need to continue to play well until Mike Mitchell returns from injury. Otherwise the Panthers will have to deal with more than one long touchdown. Behind Godfrey is Colin Jones, the third-year man out of TCU, who should make a splash on special teams. The safety positions need to play well to compensate for the deficiencies at corner, otherwise this season will seem very familiar.