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Predicting the Carolina Panthers' Depth Chart for 2016

As the free agent market starts to thin out, it is time to take a look at the Carolina Panthers' depth chart and see potentially what positions they may address in the NFL Draft.

The Carolina Panthers have spent most of their focus this offseason in bringing back their own free agents and there isn't a great deal of change in the depth chart from a season ago. However, they have added some free agents and will certainly have to find room for the six players they are expected to draft in the upcoming NFL Draft. 

While a NFL roster is 53 players, I will only have 47 listed as a way to account for those players drafted at the end of the month.

Offense

Position First String Second String Third String
Quarterback Cam Newton Derek Anderson Joe Webb
Running Back Jonathan Stewart Cameron Artis-Payne Fozzy Whittaker
Fullback Mike Tolbert
Wide Receiver Kelvin Benjamin Brenton Bersin Stephen Hill
Wide Receiver Ted Ginn Jr. Philly Brown
Slot Wide Receiver Devin Funchess
Tight End Greg Olsen Ed Dickson
Left Tackle Michael Oher Daryl Williams
Left Guard Andrew Norwell Chris Scott
Center Ryan Kalil Gino Gradkowski
Right Guard Trai Turner Chris Scott
Right Tackle Mike Remmers Daryl Williams

Notes

  • There will most likely be minimal changes made for the Panthers starting offense from the Super Bowl other than adding Kelvin Benjamin to the starting lineup. The former first round pick missed the entire season due to an ACL injury but is healthy and should be ready to go from the start.
  • The only other big change is that I believe Devin Funchess will step into the role that Jerricho Cotchery played as a possession wide receiver in the slot. Funchess has the size to create space and give Cam Newton a target in the middle of the field.
  • Right now the weakest spot is at left tackle, backing up Michael Oher. Last year's rookie Daryl Williams is currently penciled in at the position but I believe the team will address this position in the coming weeks.

Defense

Position First String Second String Third String
Defensive End Kony Ealy Ryan Delaire
Defensive Tackle Kawann Short
Defensive Tackle Star Lotulelei Paul Soliai
Defensive End Charles Johnson Mario Addison
Strongside Linebacker Shaq Thompson A.J. Klein
Middle Linebacker Luke Kuechly A.J. Klein David Mayo
Weakside Linebacker Thomas Davis A.J. Klein
Cornerback Josh Norman Robert McClain
Cornerback Bene Benwikere Teddy Williams
Nickelback Brandon Boykin
Strong Safety Kurt Coleman Dean Marlowe
Free Safety Tre Boston Trenton Robinson

Notes

  • On the defensive side of the ball there is expected to be more changes but with players who will see their roles change in 2016. At defensive end, Kony Ealy is expected to step into the starting lineup, replacing the retired Jared Allen. Ealy had an exceptional Super Bowl and will be looking to build off that game next season.
  • Bene Benwikere, who started last year as the nickelback, will be moved outside on a full-time basis and play opposite Josh Norman. The team is then expected to use recently signed Brandon Boykin as the slot corner, which is a position he has excelled in.
  • The safety position will also be new as I believe Coleman will slide over to strong safety after playing free safety last year. The team had Roman Harper at strong safety but he was released after the season and by moving Coleman to strong safety, it will allow the coaching staff to put Tre Boston in at free safety.
  • The biggest weakness right now on the defensive side of the ball is at defensive tackle. The team right now only has three defensive tackles and should be in the market to add one more, whether that is re-signing Kyle Love or drafting a player at the position.

Special Teams

Position First String Second String
Placekicker Graham Gano
Punter Swayze Waters
Long Snapper J.J. Jansen
Kickoff Return Fozzy Whittaker Brandon Boykin
Punt Return Ted Ginn Jr.

Notes

  • One thing that is guaranteed is that the Panthers will have a new punter in 2016 after Brad Nortman signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason. Before Nortman left, the Panthers had signed Swayze Waters as insurance and is the favorite to be the starter in 2016.

Twitter @BrandonCroce.

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