A season like this is probably most important from an evaluating talent standpoint. If it wasn’t for the historically bad condition of the NFC South, that’s all the season would be good for at this point. Carolina is carefully looking at who they have, who we need to keep, and where they should be playing! Let me start by saying you will see some people missing from this list… I don't think I need to tell you what we have in Cam, KB, Star, Shorts or LUKE!! Carolina will be evaluating the young guys who are fighting hard to carve out space on what will likely be a very fluid Panthers roster.
Josh Norman - 5th RD 2012 (26) - a big strong corner with attitude, who could be lock-down if he can turn that attitude into unwavering confidence. If he can capitalize on this potential by mastering his emotions and the mental side of the game, he could lock down top-level guys like Calvin Johnson! At 6 foot 200 pounds, his measurables are ideal, and he has tons of talent. If he keeps it up, Norman can be a great player for years to come!
Bené Benwikere - 5th RD 2014 (23) - with the same height and weight as Norman, he has adequate speed and press coverage skills. Benwikere, aka Stiki Wiki, has a nose for the ball and just seems to be a playmaker. Not to mention, this dude can jump out the gym. With a 41” vertical, Stiki Wiki has what it takes to defend that corner fade. He may be Carolina’s biggest 2014 draft steal! Most of the year, Carolina utilized Benwikere in the nickel, but lately he has played outside and done very well! Suddenly, Carolina’s secondary moved from a weakness to an emerging threat.
Tre Boston - 4th RD 2014 (22) - in college, Boston played both safety positions. He looks, however, best suited as a free safety in the NFL. Another ball-hawk who can hit hard, Boston has the speed to catch-up and minimize mistakes. He started the year hurt, but since getting significant playtime, he has really shown just what he can do. Really what more can we ask from a 4th round rookie! He gets better each week, and he can really play almost all DB positions, but I say keep him at FS. He looks good there!
Kony Ealy- RD 2 2014 (22) at 6’4 270 pound - he is a big, fast DE. Early in the year, he looked like a bust, but plays with heart and continues to improve! Remember, he went from a guy who was going to come up slow and study behind Greg Hardy, to a guy thrown into a struggling defense; every week we hear his name, and I like that! This kid (it’s hard to call a guy this massive a kid) has tenacity. I like him a lot! It’s also worth noting this is one of the more difficult defensive positions to acclimate to in the NFL. Most guys need time to grow into the position. Ealy was thrust into the role, and really has done better than many thought he would.
Philly Brown- undrafted 2014 (22) - looks like Dave may have done it again—he could be Carolina’s Victor Cruz. This is the offensive gem have been waiting for! At 5’11 185, he looks like a slot guy, but being as we don't have much speed on the outside, that's where he plays from for now! Brown has stepped up and done well for a rookie who went undrafted! His numbers aren’t jaw-dropping, but he missed some time with a concussion and Carolina seemed a bit slow to make personnel changes that gave him meaningful opportunity early in the season. He still looks to surpass 300 yards, and that’s with limited time at wide receiver. If you really think about it, he has only seen significant snaps at wide receiver for two weeks now. Brown looks like he has what it takes to be a consistent factor in the offense going forward.
Trai Turner- RD 3 2014 (21) - this kid gets better with every snap! Entering the draft at what many said was too young and inexperienced. To their fears, he has faced a significant learning curve. I would rather him learn here then in college, however. Turner is big nasty run blocker, who has done better and better each week. In his first two pro starts, this green rookie had to face Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Sui, so it’s no wonder he struggled early. He was drafted because of his future potential, but the porous state of Carolina’s line required Turner take on a large role much earlier than probably hoped. He continues to grow into the position, and I think he can be a staple our line for a long time
Andrew Norwell- undrafted 2014 (23) – makes me smile the biggest this year! Undrafted to starting, this kid has heart and the only thing he has stronger than that is his body! If you are talking about power with athleticism, then put this kid with the best of them! Although he didn’t start all season, he has no thought of giving his starting LG job back any time soon! He is big; he is nasty; and he is only getting better!
Mike Remmers- undrafted 2012 (25) - after bouncing from team to team, he finds a home in Carolina. Now albeit a very small sample size, I like what he has shown much more than any other right tackle we have trotted out there this year. He is most risk of losing his job in my opinion, but it's always nice to know we have an able backup, or maybe I am wrong and we can take a journeyman kid and make him a season long starter!
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