Once a strength of the Carolina Panthers' defense, the departure of Josh Norman has made a bigger hole than some may think. The Panthers have immediately looked to fill that hole and find their next lockdown corner by drafting three consecutive corners in this year’s NFL draft.
James Bradberry, Daryl Worley and Zack Sanchez will join returning Bene Benwikere and Robert McClain, and free agent signing Brandon Boykin who will look to take over the nickel corner position and make an immediate impact on the defense.
The rookies will definitely be in a strong competition for the starting corner position opposite of Benwikere most likely for all of training camp and preseason.
2. Defensive End
The Panthers' defensive ends are a peculiar group. A talented group who failed to produce the numbers they would have liked to see during the 2015 season. Team captain Charles Johnson, who only played in 9 games during the regular season, only tallied one sack. However his results improved during the playoffs, where he posted a sack in each of the three postseason games. I’m sure he is looking to bounce back in 2016 especially after taking a major pay cut to come back to the team.
Johnson isn't the only question as this defense lost a veteran presence on the line in Jared Allen, who they acquired by trade in 2015. Allen, who obviously wasn’t in his best form this past season, still put up respectable numbers. Panthers will look to Kony Ealy to replace Allen at the starting defensive end spot. Ealy, whose career has been up and down so far had a MVP performance during Superbowl 50. Ealy will look to carry this performance into the 2016 season
3. Offensive Tackle
In my previous article on the four strongest positions on the roster I had the offensive line grouped together. For this article I will go against that and pick them apart. While the offensive line as a unit played exceptionally well during the 2015 season, the tackles were noticeably the worst part of the group.
It starts with right tackle Mike Remmers, who played pretty well throughout the season but the Panthers wouldn’t mind finding a better replacement sooner rather than later. Remmers replacement could already be on the roster in second-year pro Daryl Williams, who they drafted last year out of Oklahoma and could be an improvement for this line.
On the blind side is Michael Oher, who was rather inconsistent throughout the 2015 season. He was a however a noticeable upgrade in the pass protection over former Carolina Panther Byron Bell, who started for the Panthers in 2014.
Oher needs to spend his offseason improving his run blocking. Like Remmers, Oher isn't the long term answer at the position and the Panthers will most likely be in the market for a new left tackle after this season.
The Panthers' safety group is an intriguing one. Kurt Coleman looks to lead the group going into 2016 season after having an incredible first year with the Panthers that included a team-high seven interceptions. He also contributed against the run, and showed he was a more than willing tackler posting 90 total tackles throughout the season.
The Panthers let veteran safety Roman Harper walk this off season so the safety spot next to Coleman will be up for grabs. The front runner to win the spot is third-year pro Tre Boston. He has shown flashes of being a starting caliber safety in the NFL, and plays with an attitude, similar to that of former Panther Josh Norman. Boston will attempt to ensure his spot in this defense this offseason.