Starting Left Guard: Andrew Norwell
Andrew Norwell was an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State and filled in for Amini Silatolu when he went down with a knee injury in Week 7. Norwell started the next week for the Carolina Panthers and was a starter at left guard for the rest of the season, except for one week (he started at right guard in Week 10).
According to Pro Football Focus, Andrew Norwell was the 10th best guard in the NFL from Week 8 through the rest of the regular season (9.8 overall rating) and the fourth best left guard. These are impressive numbers for a player who was overlooked by 32 teams in seven rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The emergence of Norwell has been a welcomed sight for the Panthers’ offense and was really the first move the team made that helped stabilize their offensive line a season ago. At 6’6” and 318 pounds, Norwell is a huge blocker and the hope is that he will only continue to get better with the experience he earned his rookie season.
Starting Right Guard: Trai Turner
Norwell wasn’t the only rookie guard who started for the Panthers last year as third-round pick Trai Turner played a key role on the offensive line as well. Turner’s rookie season wasn’t as smooth as Norwell though as Turner battled injuries for a solid part of the season. He was able to stay healthy down the stretch and played every snap from Week 14 through the playoffs.
Similar to Norwell, Turner received a promising rating from Pro Football Focus and finished tied for 11th among guards in the NFL with an overall grade of 5.1. More impressive than that was the fact that he ranked second among guards in pass protection (3.8) during this time period.
The combination of Norwell and Turner give the team two young, promising players who will solidify the position for the foreseeable future.
Left Guard #2: Amini Silatolu
The 2012 second round pick of the Panthers, Amini Silatolu was the team’s starting left guard at the beginning of 2014. He actually started the first six games of the year but struggled with a knee injury that forced him to miss the remainder of the season, except for one game (Week 10).
The emergence of Norwell and the uncertainty at right tackle, the team tried to move Silatolu to the position during their bye week. The knee continued to give him problems and he sat out the rest of the season.
Entering 2015, Silatolu is going to be the team’s primary back up at both guard positions. The team is lucky to have a player with his experience who could step into the starting lineup at a moment’s notice and play at a high level.
Right Guard #2: Chris Scott
In addition to Silatolu, the Panthers have an experience guard in Chris Scott. The former Tennessee Vol started the first eight games for the team at guard in 2013 but was cut prior to the 2014 season. He eventually was brought back and was on the practice squad for the first part of last year.
He appeared in three games for the Panthers (two at right guard, one at right tackle) and played a total of 75 snaps. A player like Scott is valuable for this team as he has played in this offense, has starting experience and similar to Silatolu could fill in if the need arises.
Rest of the Position
Henry also has spent some time in the NFL but primarily on the practice squad and was with the Kansas City Chiefs last year. He also appeared in one game in 2012 with the New Orleans Saints and in 2011 with the Chicago Bears. Both players seem to be long shots to make the 53-man roster but should be competing for a spot on the practice squad.
Brandon Croce is the Lead Publisher for PantherInsider.com. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonCroce.