Pros: If the front four doesnt perform, new general manager Dave Gettleman will be back to square one. Gettleman re-signed defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, then used his first two draft picks on DTs Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short. They should combine with DEs Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy to make up one of the better fronts in the league.
Cons: Lotulelei and Short werent in great shape early in the preseason, but should stay fresh with a rotation that includes Edwards and nose tackle Colin Cole. Another good-problem scenario? The two pass-rushing ends the Panthers have on their bench in Mario Addison and Frank Alexander.
Observer position ranking: 1st (out of 8 position groups).
Pros: Just about every NFL expert is ready to crown Luke Kuechly the leagues best middle linebacker after the 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year put on a clinic against Baltimore in the preseason. But the rest of this group is stout, too, assuming Jon Beason and Thomas Davis stay healthy. Chase Blackburn, who won two Super Bowl rings with the Giants, was a nice insurance pick-up.
Cons: Beason, who has played in five games over the past two seasons, is making the move to the weak side to accommodate Kuechly. Beason will have more coverage responsibilities, which could be an issue for a player coming off Achilles and knee surgeries the past two years.
Observer position ranking: 3rd.
Pros: The Panthers defensive backs were ball hawks during the preseason, coming up with nine of Carolinas NFL-high 10 interceptions. Still, it was the preseason. Ron Rivera added depth at safety by bringing in Quintin Mikell to compete with Mike Mitchell at the spot opposite Charles Godfrey. As for Godfrey, the sixth-year player wants eight INTs this season.
Cons: Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott loves the undersized Captain Munnerlyn, who re-signed for one year to start at corner. Munnerlyn will slide inside in nickel situations, leaving the likes of Josh Thomas, Josh Norman and free agent acquisition D.J. Moore to man the other corner spots.
Observer position ranking: 8th.
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