2018 Carolina Panthers Depth Chart
|Quarterback||Taylor Heinicke||Cam Newton*|
|Running Back||Christian McCaffery||Cameron Artis-Payne|
|Left Wide Receiver||Torrey Smith||DJ Moore||Curtis Samuel|
|Right Wide Receiver||Devin Funchess||Jarius Wright||Damiere Byrd|
|Tight End||Ian Thomas|
|Full Back||Alex Armah|
|Left Tackle||Taylor Moton||Matt Kalil|
|Left Guard||Greg Van Roten||Amini Silatolu|
|Center||Ryan Kalil||Tyler Larsen|
|Right Guard||Trai Turner||Brandan Mahon|
|Right Tackle||Chris Clark|
After a distracting offseason, the Carolina Panthers are ready to get back to football. The team went up for sale after reports surfaced of workplace misconduct by former owner Jerry Richardson. Hedge fund manager David Tepper proceeded to buy the team for a record $2.275 billion and the deal was officially approved in late May 2018. Billionaire Tepper brings with him a refreshing jolt of energy and has already been spotted tailgating with fans before a game.
A new owner wasn’t the only front office adjustment for the Panthers. The team has a new president in Tom Glick. Glick will oversee the day-to-day operations and was appointed by Tepper. While new to the NFL, Glick has experience with NBA and minor league baseball teams.
The Panthers also made changes to their coaching, scouting, and football operations staff. Perhaps most notable is the addition of Norv Turner as offensive coordinator. Turner returns to coaching for the first time since unexpectedly stepping down as offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings in 2016. Prior to the Vikings, Turner had served as an NFL head coach or coordinator since 1991.
The marriage of Norv Turner and star quarterback Cam Newton may seem unlikely, but the union could be quite successful if Turner is able to mesh Newton’s strength in the run game with his accuracy on big throws. The charismatic leader of the team has already come out as a proponent of Norv Turner’s offensive schemes. Newton will also be throwing to some new faces, namely Torrey Smith, Jarius Wright, and rookie D.J. Moore.
Panthers fans everywhere had a moment of panic when Cam Newton decided to dive for a first down in a preseason game against the New England Patriots.
The 6’5” QB landed on his head as he helicoptered for extra yards. Newton came back into the game a few plays later, but his characteristic competitiveness is not for the faint of heart. A healthy Cam Newton has the potential to make a big difference in the energy of the team.
The run game will be vital for a successful offense. Christian McCaffrey impressed during his rookie season with over 1,000 combined yards (435 rushing, 651 receiving) and has already shown signs he is working towards more big-play ability. Head coach Ron Rivera has been vocal about his lofty plans for the second year running back. The offensive line will have to show up, despite the loss of left guard Andrew Norwell in free agency. Hopefully a healthy Ryan Kalil will be able to help in his self-proclaimed final season.
A rookie has been either a starter or key contributor for the Panthers every year in Ron Rivera’s tenure, from Cam Newton in 2011 to Christian McCaffrey in 2017. This year’s rookies include D.J. Moore, Donte Jackson, and Rashaan Gaulden. First-round pick Moore could be used all over the place under Norv Turner. The secondary was a major weakness of the Panther’s defense. To fill the void left by the departure of Kurt Coleman and Daryl Worley, the Panthers drafted Donte Jackson and Rashaan Gaulden. There is a very real possibility the two rookies will be called on to hold together the defensive backfield.
Helping out on defense is the 346-pound defensive tackle Dontari Poe. His agility and strength make him a nightmare for offensive linemen. At 38, Julius Peppers is practically an antique in football years. The defensive end has been activated from the PUP list and will be a major factor in getting after the passer. The Panthers will need Peppers to perform near the same level as his 11-sack season in 2017.
Another lesser-known defensive end is Efe Obada. His journey to the NFL is anything but conventional. Born in Nigeria, Obada was trafficked into the UK in 2002. Abandoned and homeless in London at age 10, Obada spent several years in difficult situations. He decided to make a change and found American football. Obada is now with the Panthers as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program. While he is not officially on the 53-man roster yet, he is definitely making waves on the team.
The Panthers have never had a winning season in back-to-back years. Last season they went 11-5. Perhaps the change in ownership, a new look at coaching schemes, and revitalized players will help change that prophecy.