Carolina Panthers Outside Linebackers
|Jared Barber||6-0||235||West Virginia|
|Ben Jacobs||6-4||240||Fresno State|
|A.J. Klein||6-1||240||Iowa State|
Training Camp Battles
Shaq Thompson vs. A.J. Klein
Klein is entering his fourth season after the Panthers selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Klein has primarily been a backup for this defense however he played a major role last year when he was able to start at middle linebacker for three games at the beginning of the season. This was due to Kuechly suffering a concussion in the first half of the first game of the season.
I believe Thompson will be the starting outside linebacker when the team takes the field to start the 2016 season. However, Klein is an excellent linebacker and should push Thompson during the upcoming training camp.
Player to Watch
The most interesting player at the position this offseason has to be undrafted rookie Jeremy Cash. The former Duke Blue Devil was an All-American last year and named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
However, he earned these honors playing safety and is trying to make the transition to outside linebacker in the NFL. The Panthers have had some success as Thomas Davis and even Shaq Thompson played safety in college before moving to outside linebacker.
It isn't easy switching positions for players, especially at the same time they are making the jump from college to the NFL. However, Cash is very physical and an excellent tackler and this should help make the move.
The depth chart is fairly wide open after A.J. Klein but Cash will need to prove that he can contribute at the position. If not, he will most likely earn a spot on the practice squad.