53 Man Roster Prediction Pre-Season Edition | 2016 Carolina Panthers

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OFFENSE (26)

Quarterback (3)

Cam Newton

Derek Anderson

Joe Webb

*No change. I still think Webb is pretty safe but with Byrd emerging in the return game Webb’s role appears to have diminished in Kickoff Return on special teams with Wegher/Byrd taking returns in game 1 and CAP/Fozzy in game 2.

If time comes for them to need a spot on the roster for a position this year I would keep an eye on how much his role diminishes.

Tight End (4)

Greg Olsen

Ed Dickson

Scott Simonson

Braxton Deaver

*Scott Simonson did not have a very good 2nd pre-season game with two penalties and no catches but no tight ends took advantage of both Dickson & Olsen being out with the extra reps they got.

At this point I believe it’s the first time in the Gettleman era I have believed a drafted player might be cut & sent to the practice squad.

Sandland has done himself no favors from missing blocks to getting steam rolled into Cam, and not catching a single pass all pre-season. He went from promising in OTA’s & Mini Camp to disappointing. He is going to need time to develop but I don’t think it will be on the 53 man roster unless he steps it up in the last two pre-season games.

Lucas & Deaver have done a decent job at running routes and catching passes and probably deserve more reps with earlier units in these last two pre-season games. There is a considerable drop off in blocking abilities past Dickson, Simonson, & Olsen. So if Sandland, Deaver, and Lucas are on a similar level of blocking then the next step is judging from their route running and pass catching.

I think we keep 4 tight ends right now but I would not be surprised to see us only keep 3 at this point given the difference in talent level. It’s anyone’s game for that 4th spot right now.

Wide Receiver (6)

Kelvin Benjamin

Devin Funchess

Ted Ginn

Philly Brown

Damiere Byrd

Brenton Bersin

*As usual Bersin is the model of consistency when it comes to roster decisions. I had originally thought back in June that Garrett may come on to make a push to make this roster on the inactive’s. Now I believe he is a player in need of some time for development on the practice squad. While Bersin continues to prove why he always ends up on this roster and is so liked among coaches, players, and staff. 

Two pre-season games in I believe Damiere Byrd has showed that promise the Panthers & fans thought he had back in OTA’s & Mini Camp. He has shown the ability to return kicks & punts while also being a speedy deep threat we thought he could be.

I have not seen the Panthers have a kick returner with the big play threat Byrd possess on a Panthers squad for a long time. I think his return abilities alone could warrant him the 5th spot on the depth chart over Bersin but the added factor of his big play ability as a receiver takes it over the top for me. He could have easily had two touchdowns & 100+ receiving yards against Tennessee had Anderson not short armed him after he beat the coverage deep and thrown behind him in the end zone on the goal line.

Norwood has been pretty solid as well. I still think Bersin is my favorite to make the 6th spot at receiver just because of experience and familiarity with Cam but Norwood is pushing Bersin for that spot. They are essentially the same type of receiver so this battle should be interesting until the end but for now I think at the very least Norwood is playing for a practice squad spot.

Stephen Hill has not shown that speed he was once known for. It was one of my fears for both him and Benjamin that a serious knee injury especially of the severity of Hill would take some things away and not be easy to overcome. In his case his speed is not there and it is noticeable he is favoring it. It’s disappointing this is how things have played out. I am not sure if there is a spot available for him right now on the practice squad either but I will not be surprised if they do place him there.

Garrett had a lot of promise coming out of Tulsa as a UDFA who was projected for the 3rd round but so far it is taking longer than expected for him to catch on which is probably why he went undrafted. I think he has a big ceiling and plenty of size that the Panthers probably love.

Which is why I expect him to be stored and developed on the practice squad not the 53. I feel less worried about him being taken off it after camp & pre-season where he has not made many plays and appears to have struggled some.

The good thing is everyone battling for those last receivers spots are eligible for practice squad even Bersin. I did a break down of why he is on this blog which you can find here.

Will we use 3 of our 10 practice squad spots on wide receivers? This is the question going into these last couple of weeks of camp. I haven’t felt this comfortable about the depth at receivers since Proehl, Moose, & Smitty were all together. I also don’t beleive we have been this deep with talent & potential at the position.

Running Back (4)

Jonathan Stewart

Fozzy Whittaker

Cameron Artis-Payne

Brandon Wegher

*Nothing has changed as far as my stance on Fozzy. I still am not a fan and I think you can get the same productivity from CAP & Wegher as him with both of them having higher ceilings and that his pass blocking is terrible.

Saying that the coaching staff every year has a vet or two they develop this infatuation over. This year happens to be Fozzy. I thought Todman beat Fozzy out last season in initial cuts but this year I don’t think anyone’s been given a fair opportunity to push or beat Fozzy. I think more than anything they like players with game reps and experience. Plus they don’t want to mess with the chemistry is the RB room.

I just hope we don’t cut Wegher in favor of Fozzy. I don’t think in the Panthers two pre-season games they have given Wegher a fair shake putting him behind a horrid 3rd unit offensive line. One which allows defenders into the backfield as soon as Wegher touches the ball not allowing him even a chance to get anything going.

That goes for CAP as well. I hope this staff will give them snaps with the 1st unit offensive line to at least see what we have and give these guys a chance to shine because right now they are burying these guys with these units. I will be writing more about this in the coming days but for now this is me crossing my fingers they don’t risk a pretty good prospect for a vet that was very disappointing last season when he got carries and appears not to have changed this year.

Full Back (1)

Mike Tolbert

*Tolbert is in no danger of losing his spot but I thought this would be a good place to take note that the Panthers quietly placed FB Devon “Rockhead” Johnson on IR after reoccurring back issues from his time in college at Marshall. A lot of fans and it seemed coaches were impressed with Johnson. Enough to give him another shot next year by storing him on IR.

Offensive Line (8)

Michael Oher

Mike Remmers

Daryl Williams

Trai Turner

Andrew Norwell

Ryan Kalil

Chris Scott

Gino Gradkowski

*I will not be shocked if they bring in a free agent OT or carry Hawkins as the 9th in this last spot in favor of one less elsewhere. For now Hawkins has outperformed Foucault and has taken away reps from him in practice. I think they could store Hawkins on the practice squad for now and call him up if needed due to injuries as the season goes on.

Defense (24)

Defensive Line (9)

Kony Ealy

Charles Johnson

Star Lotulelei

Kawann Short

Vernon Butler

Paul Soliai

Mario Addison

Eric Crume or Wes Horton

Ryan Delaire

*Originally I had Rakim Cox set for this back in June. Sadly he has been out hurt almost all pre-season and part of camp missing significant time. I suspect his next destination is IR once teams can move players without cutting them.

Eric Crume has had a solid first two pre-season games and with Kyle Love sitting out game two Crume took advantage of Love being out. If we keep 5 defensive tackles right now I would give the nod to Crume who has been pretty solid right now. I still think they can slide Short & Butler to defensive end to mask depth issues there.

Defensive ends not named Ealy, Johnson, or Addison have been disappointing. Delaire had a terrible game against Baltimore but it’s not like Miley, Webster, or Horton played any better. Outside of worries about the youth at corner, defensive end is probably the Panthers thinnest position depth wise on the team.

If we keep 5 defensive ends I will give the nod to Horton who I think will win the job mainly due to game experience. Which isn’t saying much about a guy who has been cut twice in the last year. I would also caution fans to chill out about Delaire.

Some people are quick to forget how long it takes to develop a decent Defensive End. It took 3 seasons to get Ealy to where he is and same can be said for when Hardy started emerging as a good pass rusher.

It’s still early in Delaire’s career, we are just starting year two of his career. People forget he was a rookie last year and on top of that he wasn’t on the team until after the season had already begun and then ended up hurt in the Tampa game and played the year hurt. So to top off things he is coming off a injury.

I would caution people to be patient and let the staff develop him. He has all the size you want in a defensive end and a very high ceiling to develop into a dangerous pass rusher. Don’t let one game cloud your mind of these facts but I expect him to stick on the roster.

Also just to get this out there Hardy is NOT coming back. Your more likely to find the real mythical beast know as the Kraken one day out in the ocean than to see the other Kraken in a Panthers uniform ever again as long as Jerry Richardson is owner. It’s a fantasy I know a lot of fans are having right now.

Linebacker (6)

Thomas Davis

Luke Kuechly

Shaq Thompson

AJ Klein

David Mayo

Jeremy Cash

*This prediction has not changed. Cash has added weight and muscle and looks completely different from OTA’s & Mini Camp. With Jacobs missing game two of the pre-season Cash took full advantage.

He has shown he could develop into a solid linebacker quickly and I think they won’t waste that potential to hold on to Jacobs or risk to the practice squad. A side note to add to this is Mayo has quietly had a solid off-season as well.

Corner (5)

Bene Benwikere

James Bradberry

Daryl Worley

Zack Sanchez

Robert McClain

*Young has not performed well throughout the pre-season. While McClain has done a pretty good job instead. I think Young will end up back on the practice squad. I also think the young rookie group has lifted any worries I had about the corners going into the season.

Sure there will be growing pains with this group but I think they can manage with just 5 there this year. I am curious what they will do when it is time to take Johnson of the PUP list and who makes the roster that he might potentially replace.

Safety (4)

Kurt Coleman

Tre Boston

Dean Marlowe

Colin Jones

*No changes here. Ball has not performed very well and Robinson is now hurt. This group seems pretty solidified.

Special Teams (3)

Graham Gano

Mike Scifres

JJ Jansen

Practice Squad (10)

Kevin Norwood

Travell Dixon

Keyarris Garrett

Brian Blechen

Arthur Miley

Beau Sandland

Lou Young

Marcus Ball

Donald Hawkins

David Foucault or David Yankey

* I could not pick between Foucualt & Yankey. I am guessing a Guard or Tackle for the last spot. I know there will be some hogmollies on the practice squad. There might even be one less tight end in favor of a defensive lineman.  For now this is the group I will go with in my prediction. 

 

Those are my predictions after two pre-season games. Cut downs are around the corner so tell me what did you think of my predictions? What would you change? Leave me your thoughts below in the comments and as always KEEP POUNDING!

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