In a recent interview with the Carolina Panthers' team site, defensive tackle Paul Soliai said he believes that they could have the best defensive tackle group in the NFL. "I think we can. We’ve got some great defensive tackles here. I’m going on Year 10 and I see the way they work. They’ve been somewhere I’m trying to go, and I just want to do whatever I can to help."
The talent is clearly there as the team now has two first round picks at the position with Star Lotulelei and the team's most recent first round pick, Vernon Butler. The best player in this group may be the player selected right after Lotulelei though in the 2012 NFL Draft, Kawann Short.
One of the reasons this group has the potential to be the best, is not only because they have talented players, but also have players that fit roles exceptionally well for the position. The team has players like Lotulelei and Soliai who do an excellent job clogging up the middle and stopping the run game. However, neither is exactly adept at getting to the quarterback as Lotulelei only has six sacks in three seasons and Soliai only has 5.5 sacks in nine seasons.
This isn't an issue for the Panthers though as they have quick defensive tackles like Short and Butler, who can collapse the pocket from the middle and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The pressure Short was able to bring last year was one of the reasons for the defense's success a season ago.
Dave Gettleman has always made the defensive tackle position a priority and had success with players like Colin Cole, Dwan Edwards and Kyle Love as role players. This group the Panthers' GM has put together in 2016 though has four players who could start for this team and play at a high level. The potential is certainly there for the Panthers to have the best defensive tackles in the league in 2016.