Ever since becoming the General Manager of the Panthers, David Gettleman has assembled competitive rosters each year. His work reached the NFL’s pinnacle with a Super Bowl berth, and ultimate loss. This year he will try to get his team back to the promised land, and come out with a victory. The table below shows how Gettleman has assembled his roster in each of his three seasons as GM. You can see the patterns of how many players he usually keeps per position, and my input on who may fill these spots come final roster cuts.
Quarterback: Gettleman brought in Joe Webb during his second year at Carolina, and figures to keep him around unless he falls behind other special teams and utility aces. Cam Newton and Derek Anderson will assuredly make the roster as well.
Running Back: The locks seem to be Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, and Cameron Artis-Payne. It is likely that Fozzy Whittaker makes the roster as well but has strong competition from second year Brandon Wegher and future full back candidate Devon Johnson.
Wide Receiver: In this position lies a battle for the ages. Gettleman has kept five receivers on the roster every year as GM, but with added talent and no true fourth tight end, we could easily see this number increase. Kelvin Benjamin, Ted Ginn, and Devin Funchess are the locks at this point. Philly Brown looks to be the number four, but his spot on the roster is not fully guaranteed. Vying for the last one to two spots is Keyarris Garrett, minicamp star Damiere Byrd, Brenton Bersin, Stephen Hill, Kevin Norwood, and a few others.
Tight End: David Gettleman has kept four tight ends on the roster every year during his tenure with the Panthers. At this point, the only guaranteed spot belongs to Greg Olsen, though Ed Dickson seems pretty safe as well. The third tight end spot always seems to go to a pass-catching option and the fourth to a versatile H-Back role (Richie Brockel). Beau Sandland cost the Panthers a draft pick and is a competent blocker/receiving option. Scott Simonson was active nine games for the Panthers last season, and Braxton Deaver is an interesting name coming out of minicamp along with Marcus Lucas.
Offensive Line: Gettleman usually keeps 9-10 offensive lineman, and this year is not poised to bring a change. The locks are Michael Oher, Mike Remmers, Trai Turner, Andrew Norwell, Ryan Kalil, and Daryl Williams. Behind these six are depth players: Gino Gradkowski, David Foucault, Chris Scott, and David Yankey, excluding a few others.
Defensive End: What was thought to be a weakness of the Panthers prior to the draft is actually believed to be a strength among Carolina’s front office. The locks are Charles Johnson, Kony Ealy, and Mario Addison. Recent comments on second-year player Ryan Delaire makes him seem like the fourth end destined to make the final 53. Behind these four are two raw and talented defensive ends in Rakim Cox and Arthur Miley; they will look to impress this preseason and make a name for themselves outside of the practice squad. Wes Horton may make the roster again as a run stopping specialist.
Defensive Tackle: Carolina’s defensive tackle corps may be the deepest and most talented defensive grouping in the NFL, behind their own linebackers of course. Those set to make the roster include Kawann Short, Star Lotulelei, and Vernon Butler. The amount of guaranteed money Paul Soliai received this offseason almost assures his spot as well. The wildcard for the fifth tackle spot is Kyle Love, who was resigned to a cheap one-year deal and played well against the run and pass.
Linebackers: The Panthers have kept six linebackers each of the last three years. The locks to make the roster are Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Shaq Thompson, and AJ Klein. Those vying for the last few spots include last year’s fifth rounder David Mayo, special team leader Ben Jacobs, and UDFA Jeremy Cash. It will be a battle between these three and the rest of the young linebackers, but if Cash and Mayo can step up as a leader on special teams we could see Ben Jacobs looking for a new team here soon.
Defensive Backs: Secondary players have always been a plenty in Carolina, though a number of corners and safeties kept varies each year. Look for the Panthers to carry 9 to 11 defensive backs, as they are a young grouping void of top end talent. The locks at this point are Kurt Coleman, Tre Boston, James Bradberry, Zack Sanchez, Daryl Worley, and Bené Benwikere. Robert McClain got some starting action during the playoffs, and special teams ace Colin Jones has been a mainstay in Carolina the past few seasons. Travel Dixon, Dean Marlowe, Shaq Richardson, Trenton Robinson, Lou Young, and Teddy Williams all expect to compete for roster spots in the very open competition at safety and cornerback.
Special Teams: Kicker Graham Gano and long snapper JJ Jansen are locks to make the roster and are very good players at their position. Swayze Waters and Michael Palardy are set to battle it out at punter, but Gettleman may look to add another after the next few series of roster cuts.
By Grant Hughes
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