Kim Klement/USA Today

Carolina Panthers: Pro Football Focus Ranks Nine Players in Top 101 of 2015

Pro Football Focus released their list of the Top 101 players from 2015 and the Carolina Panthers were well represented with nine players in this group, including two in the Top 10.

The Carolina Panthers finished the regular season with an NFL best 15-1 record so it should come as no surprise that they had nearly half their starters make Pro Football Focus Top 101 players of 2015. The highest ranked Panther was linebacker Luke Kuechly who was ranked as the third best player in the entire league. Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus wrote about Kuechly's rank:

Luke Kuechly won PFF’s inaugural Dick “Night Train” Lane Award for the best coverage defender in football this past season. That’s not to say that you would choose him over any cornerback in the league to split out wide and cover Antonio Brown, but rather an indication of just how superior he was compared to the peers at his position group when it came to coverage. At middle linebacker for the Panthers, Kuechly makes plays no other LB in the NFL makes, including a pass breakup in the divisional round of the playoffs against Seattle—breaking towards the sideline and getting fingertips to a pass intended for Doug Baldwin to prevent a reception on a coverage bust he had no part in. In fact, Kuechly only enhanced his season in the playoffs, earning three straight positive grades. But for missing time early in the year with a concussion, he could very easily have found himself atop this list.

The Panthers' middle linebacker was joined in the Top 10 by their quarterback, and league MVP, Cam Newton who finished eighth in these rankings. Monson wrote about Newton's season:

Had this list been for the regular season only, we would have seen Cam Newton rank lower, and likely not as the first quarterback. His postseason performance, however, was excellent even if it will only be remembered for an ugly defeat, the failure to fall on a football, and a petulant press conference display. Newton became a true MVP over the final weeks of the season, leading the Panthers to the Super Bowl and actually playing reasonably well in that game in the face of overwhelming pressure and a questionable game plan. Newton threw some of the most impressive passes of the season, and unlike any other passer, is an integral part of the team’s rushing attack, not simply as a threat to keep the ball on the occasional option play, but as a viable threat to carry the ball at any time on genuine scripted running plays.

Both Kuechly and Newton finished the 2015 as the best player at their respective positions.

The next player in these rankings, Josh Norman, is actually no longer on the team after the team decided to rescind the franchise tag they placed on him earlier in the offseason. The remaining Panthers that made the list are: Kawann Short (30th), Greg Olsen (67th), Trai Turner (79th), Jonathan Stewart (83rd), Andrew Norwell (99th) and Thomas Davis (100th).

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