The Carolina Panthers shelled out major money to upgrade their offensive line during the offseason, spending $55.5 million on free agent tackle Matt Kalil.
At least one NFL website thinks the Panthers did in fact upgrade up front, although interestingly the tackle position is still seen as a potential weak spot.
Pro Football Focus, the analytics site owned by NBC broadcaster Cris Collinsworth, ranks the Panthers’ offensive line as the league’s 12th-best entering the season. Among NFC South teams, only Atlanta’s line (No. 6) is rated higher by PFF.
The Panthers’ line was ranked sixth by PFF heading into the 2016 season, but finished 17th in the PFF rankings after season-ending injuries to left tackle Michael Oher and center Ryan Kalil.
Although Oher is not mentioned in PFF’s synopsis of the Panthers’ line, his uncertain status certainly played a part in writer Michael Renner’s belief that the tackle group is “still a concern” for Carolina.
Renner called the Panthers’ interior “solid,” which probably should be expected after PFF rated left guard Andrew Norwell as Carolina’s top offensive lineman in 2016.
Renner pointed out that Matt Kalil has graded out below-average in PFF’s analyses every year since his Pro Bowl season as a rookie. Renner called second-round pick Taylor Moton the wild card, adding the former Western Michigan lineman “was consistently one of our highest-graded linemen between tackle and guard in college.”