My NFC South Roster Grades
Scoring System Summary - A+ = 10 D+ = 1 , All scores are added up then the average is found giving the score out of 10.
New Orleans Saints
Overall Grade – A 8.5
Quarterback - A
- If I told you a five years ago that the NFL’s All-Time passing yards, completions, touchdowns and completion percentage leader was still active and playing at an elite level at age 41 you wouldn’t believe it, well that’s Drew Brees in 2020. He holds 5 of the 6 single-season completion percentage records, the top 3 which he owns were recorded in 2017,2018 and 2019 emphasising how Brees is still playing at an elite level. In 2019, Brees suffered an injury in week 2 that caused him to miss 5 games. This didn’t hold Brees back though, he still finished 1stin completion percentage and on target throws, 3rd in QBR and 3rd down completion percentage and 32nd in bad throws, the best recorded according to Pro Football Reference. Additionally, if you average his 11 games sample, his full season stats would have been 4,332 yards, 39 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. So, despite the fact Brees is ageing and at times later in the season his arm strength looks depleted, the above metrics and stats prove that Brees is still playing at an undeniably great level which I expect to continue in 2020. Jameis Winston is in my view one of the hardest quarterbacks to judge in the NFL. He undoubtably has elite arm talent and strength which he showed off in 2019 with his league leading 5,109 passing yards as well as 30 touchdowns, but he also showed off his awful decision making with a league leading 30 interceptions and an NFL-record 7 pick-sixes. Winston has struggled his entire career with turnovers and it’s not something I expect to change overnight in New Orleans with Brees and Peyton but if he can get a hold of his turnovers he has the elite arm talent to be a top 15 quarterback in the NFL and I hope he can turn it around. Personally, I don’t buy the Taysom Hill quarterback hype, yes, he is a great gadget player, but the guy has only thrown 13 passes in 2 years, only 6 of which were completed. Yes, he is a great swiss army knife any team would benefit from having but he is not a starting quarterback in my eyes.
Running Backs – A-
- Alvin Kamara has the best contact balance and small space quickness I’ve seen in the NFL. While his workload may not change in 2020 as Latavius Murray is still present in New Orleans, Kamara will not be playing “On 1 leg… At 75%” in 2020 like he said he was in 2019 on Twitter in early March. Kamara truly bounces off tackles and has a unique ability to make dead plays alive again. Although he is running behind an elite offensive line similar to Zeke, what makes Kamara great is often what he does behind the line of scrimmage or alongside it. Since 2018 his 157 broken tackles as a receiver and runner are 3rd amongst all players, and while his stats have not always jumped off the page due to splitting carries with Ingram II and Murray his play has always done enough talking. Latavius Murray is a great second piece to New Orleans running back duo. Murray is just not quite good enough to be a lead back but is an exceptional back up. At 6ft 3 he is a great powerful runner with the athleticism to break into the secondary. Together he and Kamara can be elite.
Wide Receivers – A+
- Michael Thomas was in my view the best receiver in the NFL in 2019 and like his social media handles say, you can’t guard Mike. Thomas is the most efficient and productive receiver in the league regardless of the fact every opposing defense knows the Saints are going to feed him and how he’s going to beat them. Teams know Thomas doesn’t run deep as he had the lowest rate of targets beyond 20 yards in the league in 2019, 4%, but that still doesn’t help stop him. He is physical at the release and unbeatable in press coverage. Thomas recorded 7 games with 100+ receiving yards and a touchdown in 2019 which is the most in the last 15 years. Thomas is not only productive, but he is clutch in the big moments, he is the NFL’s best Red Zone threat and one of the best 3rd and 4th down receivers. Ultimately, Thomas was the most unstoppable receiver in the NFL. Adding Emmanuel Sanders was an incredible move by the Saints, Sanders has had the talent and production to be a number one receiver his whole career, but quarterback play and his situations have led him to become very underrated. Even at 33 Sanders has great speed and route running making him a threat all over the field but especially in the slot and deep. New Orleans will finally have a legitimate weapon opposite Thomas, and this should see their offense thrive. Tre’Quan Smith is not the best third option and will see limited targets, but he has some nice potential.
Tight Ends - B
- Jared Cook has made back to back Pro Bowls the past two seasons as well as the best two years of his career. Despite his athleticism dwindling as he has aged, he still finished 4th amongst tight ends in 2019 for 15+ yard receptions with 24. Cook also saw a career high of 10.8 yards per target in 2019 playing in New Orleans offense. Heading into 2020 I expect Cook’s numbers to decline slightly due to the addition of Emmanuel Sanders and getting Alvin Kamara back to full health but with that said Cook will still be a reliable target for Brees in one of the NFL most explosive offenses. Josh Hill has played all 7 years of his career in New Orleans and is a nice back-up tight end who knows the Saints system and could potentially have better numbers as a starter.
Offensive Line – A+
- Only the Colts have an arguably better offensive line than the Saints and no one can say they have a better tackle duo than New Orleans. Together Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead allowed only 1 sack and 44 pressures in 1,259 pass blocking snaps. Ramczyk is arguably the best tackle in all of football, he is an elite pass blocker and great run blocker the same as Armstead. The interior of their offensive line is also very good, McCoy had a great rookie season blocking both the pass and run at a very high level, the same cannot however be said for Peat who is not a great guard but is perfectly serviceable playing in an elite unit. The Saints also drafted Cesar Ruiz 24th overall who will start at guard this season. Ruiz is an athletic and technically gifted prospect. He can play in a variety of blocking schemes and only allowed 9 pressures in 2019 proving he can be a great pass blocker.
Corner Backs – A-
- Marshon Lattimore is one of the NFLs best corners, in his first three seasons he has won Defensive Rookie of the Year, made 2 Pro Bowls, intercepted 8 passes and defended 44. Janoris Jenkins is no longer a number one corner but could easily be a good number two corner, he can take the ball away well and covers at a consistent level. Williams and Robinson will fight for the 3rd spot and while Williams has the higher potential, he has only played 23 out of 47 games in his 4 years in New Orleans.
Safeties - A
- The addition of Malcolm Jenkins is a great one, he is an 11-year veteran and elite leader of men. Jenkins can also defend the run and cover well. Marcus Williams might not be an 11-year veteran, but he is an elite cover safety who takes the ball away that has been great ever since he entered the league. Gardner-Johnson defended the run well but still needs to get better in coverage, he was a nice starter in his rookie season but will still get a good number of snaps as a rotational safety.
Edge Rushers – A+
- Cam Jordan is elite by every meaning of the word and underrated by many when comparing him to the other elite rushers, he does the dirty work in the run game many of the prolific rusher do not, Jordan is an elite run defender and pass rusher. In the last 3 seasons Jordan has made 1 first team All-Pro, 3 Pro Bowls, 40.5 Sacks, 50 Tackles for Loss and 74 Quarterback Hits. Jordan also hasn’t missed a game in 9 years. Marcus Davenport blossomed in 2019 and is becoming worth the 14th pick they spent on him in 2018. At 6ft 6 running a 4.58 40-yard dash Davenport is an athletic monster who is a great run defender and good pass rusher. Hendrickson is a nice rotational edge defender who can defend the run well.
Interior Defensive Line - B
- New Orleans have a plethora of depth on the interior defensive line, Rankins didn’t start a game in 2019 but is a balanced run defender and pass rusher, Malcom Brown is a great two down run defender but has no rush presence, Onyemata didn’t have the best 2019 which happened to coincide with his first full year as a starter but in previous years he proved to be a very good run defender and interior rusher. Tuttle and Edwards add even more depth but will get very limited snaps in 2020.
Linebackers - A
- Demario Davis had a breakout season in 2019, he has always been a good linebacker but in 2019 he was truly elite in coverage. Davis made first team All-Pro in 2019 and defended 12 passes. Davis is also a very good run defended and blitzer. If he can continue his high level of pay the Saints will have an elite linebacker core for numerous years to come. Anzalone missed 2019 to injury but in 2018 he covered the pass well but struggled against the run. Rookie Zach Baun and 8-year veteran Robertson will fight for the 3rd linebacker spot and while Robertson knows the Saints defense, Baun has explosive athletic ability that could see him win the starting job.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Overall Grade – B+ 7.0
Quarterback – A-
- The idea that Brady fell off in 2019 is entirely false and unfair when you take into consideration what he had to work with in 2019, he ranked 2nd in dropped passes, his number one receiver led the league in drops and his receiver core as a whole ranked last in separation. Which explains why he ranked 23rd in intended air yards, 27th in completion percentage, 29th in yards per attempt and 1st in throw aways, even with that said Brady still finished 2nd in on target throws and threw for 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions on course to winning the AFC East comfortably with a 12-4 record. In Tampa Brady will have a plethora of talent surrounding him and a good offensive line, so given the offense around him expect a big resurgence year out of the greatest quarterback of all-time.
Running Backs - B
- Tampa’s addition of Leonard Fournette is an elite one, Fournette was a beast in college and has been in a beast in the pros, his hard-nosed powerful running style has made him a formidable force and hard to bring down. Fournette has elite straight-line speed that compares well to the NFL’s best, while it is one of Fournette’s strengths it is also his biggest weakness. Fournette has close to no lateral quickness, agility or speed in his game. Ronald Jones had a nice second year averaging 4.2 yards per carry for 724 yards, McCoy is an 11-year veteran but it’s likely he will see very limited snaps given the Buccaneers addition of Fournette.
Wide Receivers – A+
- Mike Evans is a monster at 6ft 5 and 231 pounds with incredibly underrated speed and athleticism. He can beat defensive backs deep, intermediate or short, he can go up over them with ease as well as blazing past them. Ultimately, similar to Tyreek Hill there is no one in the league like Mike Evans or that possesses the tools and athleticism at his size. Since entering the league in 2014 as the 7th overall pick he has 6 consecutive seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards. So not only does Evans have an elite body of work but at only 26 he still has numerous years left in his prime. Chris Godwin was arguably the second-best receiver in the NFL last season according to the numbers, there is no skill or area of his game that he lacks. What makes Godwin elite is his ability to be a factor all over the field in every possible scenario. He has incredible hands catching 75.4% of his targets, he has breakaway speed and running back tendencies with the ball in his hand making him very elusive and hard to bring down. He is clutch on 3rd & 4th downs as well as a true RedZone threat and he tied for 2nd in the most 25+ yard receptions in 2019 with 16 according to Pro Football Focus. Watch out for 5ft 11 Scotty Miller this season as well, he is a hardworking slot receiver and could resemble an Amendola, Edelman type receiver for Brady this season.
Tight Ends – B+
- Rob Gronkowski is in my opinion far from his prime but will still be very serviceable on big plays due to his chemistry with Tom Brady. I don’t think there is any reason to believe that coming off a year of retirement in which Gronkowski has seemingly got leaner and lost weight that he will be any better than the Gronk we saw in 2018, who was not by any means great. Gronk has been an all-time blocker throughout his career hence I expect him to repeat his high-level blocking in 2020, while Gronk may be sharing snaps with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate there’s is no doubt that in the RedZone and 3rd downs Tampa Bay and Brady will look to Gronk to make the big plays happen. O.J. Howard might never have lived up to his potential at 6ft 6 with incredibly athleticism having been drafted 19th overall but he is still a good tight end in the NFL. If anyone can help O.J. Howard blossom it’ll be Tom Brady and his love for tight ends. Cameron Brates numbers have regressed in recent years, but he is still the same guy who is a great back up or a decent starter. Whilst Gronk is an all-time blocker it should be noted neither Brate nor O.J. are particularly great blockers.
Offensive Line - B
- The Buccaneers offensive line has some very nice pieces and will protect Brady well. On the interior, Jensen, Marpet and Cappa will provide a great pocket to step up in for Brady. Marpet has been great her entire career and Jensen has started 16 games for 3 years straight playing at a good level. Cappa might be an average starter but he will fill the whole at guard. On the outside Donovan Smith will line up opposite rookie Tristan Wirfs, Smith is overpaid given his quality of play but undeniably plays at an important position. Wirfs was a steal at 13th overall, he has elite athleticism, moves smoothly and has the ability to handle numerous blocking duties and sets.
Corner Backs - B
- Tampa has a young and ascending corner group with huge potential. Jamal Dean only played in limited snaps but as a rookie he had some nice play and is primed for a breakout season. Davis improved on his rookie season, took up the mantel of number one corner and did a good job. Murphy-Bunting like Dean had a nice rookie season and can hopefully now continue to grow off it.
Safeties - C
- Safety presents an undeniable hole in Tampa’s roster. Whitehead and Edwards imply didn’t cut it as a starting duo in 2019 and while Winfield Jr can flat out play football, covering tight ends, supporting the run and playing with elite instincts I doubt he will change life as a rookie for the group.
Edge Rushers – A-
- Shaquil Barrett took his career into a different gear in 2019, in his 5 years in Denver he was a very nice rotational edge defender but he got his chance as the number one guy and took full advantage of it leading the league in sacks with 19.5 as well as 19 tackles for loss and 37 QB hits. Jason Pierre-Paul is vital to the Buccaneers defense in 2020, Pierre-Paul is a 10-year veteran who has totalled 21 sacks, 25 tackles for loss and 36 quarterback hits over the last two seasons. Together they are one of the best edge defender duos in the league.
Interior Defensive Line – B+
- Both Vita Vea and Suh are great two down run defenders but need to develop or play at a consistent level as pass rushers. If they want to truly cause fear in opponents’ offensive lines. At 6ft 4, 347 lbs Vea might never be an able rusher but could become an elite run stuffer. Suh has shown flashes year after year of elite rush play but has never found the consistency.
Linebackers - A
- Lavonte David and Devin White are going to be a dangerous duo for years to come. David is an elite coverage linebacker who can defend the run well and White who was drafted 5th overall in the 2019 draft showed flashes of why the Bucs drafted hum so high. White has elite athleticism and power with rare leadership abilities making him a problem for offenses.
Overall Grade – B 6.3
Quarterback – B+
- Although the Falcons missed the Play-offs for the second straight year in 2019 it is not down to poor quarterback play, but in fact their defense which ranked 5th worst in 2018 and 13th worst in 2019 in total yards allowed compared to their offense with ranked 6th best in 2018 and 5th best in 2019 in total yards. Despite finishing 2019 7-9 Matt Ryan threw for 4,466 yards and 26 touchdowns ranking 4th in yards per game and 7th in completion percentage with 66.2%. Whilst Ryan is often tarnished due to having an elite number one weapon in Julio Jones he proved once again in 2019 that he is a great thrower of the football, ranking 7th in completed air yards, 28thin bad throw percentage and 7th in Pro Football Focuses best deep passers with a completion percentage of 42.9% when throwing for more than 20 yards. Matt Ryan is ultimately very close to elite and throws a beautiful football, and if that defense can improve we are looking at a very good Falcons team once again.
Running Backs - B
- When we last saw Gurley healthy, he was the best running back in the league for a two-year span, winning an offensive player of the year award as well as being named to 2 Pro Bowls and 2 first team All-Pro’s. Gurley used to be one of the most explosive running backs both on the ground and through the air, however, his ability to be a great receiver was diminished to the extent the Rams hardly used him out of the backfield as a receiver in 2019. If Gurley can recover fully the Falcons offense could be unstoppable. Ito Smith is a nice backup but if Gurley goes down don’t expect him to carry the load.
Wide Receivers – A+
- Julio Jones has the size, frame, he has elite speed and athletic ability as well as the skill to run the entire route tree at a Hall of Fame level, whilst making out of this world catches and plays on every imaginable stage. Possibly the best determiner for his greatness is that 2019 is viewed as a down year for Jones, a year in which he totalled 1,394 receiving yards. Julio is in my opinion the most complete receiver in the NFL, Imagine Odell Beckham’s explosiveness partnered with Davante Adams route running but inside a 6ft 4 frame with the clutch mentality and you have Julio Jones. He is the best receiver in the game and there is no doubt in my mind. Ridley made the jump from 51 yards per game in his rookie season to 67 in 2019 which projects over 1,000 yards, the statistical hall mark for a number one receiver. Ridley is an underrated route runner with the ability to go deep and be great in the RedZone, Ridley also moves the chains and despite only having 91 targets and 63 catches he had 47 1st down receptions. Gage and Treadwell will fight for the 3rd receiver spot and while Gage is nothing special, Treadwell is a huge bust, he was drafted 23rd overall in 2016 and has never eclipsed 20.1 yards per games.
Tight Ends - B
- Despite only starting 4 games out of 16 in 2019 I believe Hayden Hurst showed the skillset to excel at the position with the bigger workload he is going to get in 2020. Hurst is a very well-rounded tight end; he blocks well whilst also being a good receiving threat. Hurst naturally creates mismatches at 6ft 5, 265 lbs due to his speed which makes him difficult to cover for linebackers and safeties. Matt Ryan summed up Hurst’s impacts perfectly:
"He is for sure one of the fastest and most athletic tight ends I've ever played with, He's a mismatch problem, he's going to create separation and win in different ways than those guys did."
Offensive Line – C+
- If Atlanta’s offensive line can develop, they will have a great offensive line in 2020. Jake Matthews is the big money man at left tackle. Despite allowing 8 sacks in 2019 he only allowed 28 total pressures and was once again a close to elite pass blocker. Alex Mack is returning for his 12 seasons in the NFL and while he is no longer an elite center he is still a very good center, a consummate professional and the leader of the offensive line. McGary and Lindstrom were both drafted in the 1st round last year and Hennessy was drafted 78th overall this offseason. Lindstrom only played 5 games due to injury but put up some great performances, whereas McGary struggled allowing 13 sacks on the season, if the two can develop into good starters the Falcons will have a great offensive line. Hennessy will likely step in and be a day one starter at guard despite his physical limitations because he is 3-year starter who possess great hand placement, patience and technical ability.
Corner Backs – C-
- Rumours coming out of Falcons training camp is that rookie A.J. Terrell is balling out whilst covering the best in the game, Julio Jones. Terrell is a great press corner with the footwork and athleticism to mirror wideouts all through their routes. He is a good athlete, but he possesses an elite burst to close out catches in tight windows which makes him a very good 50/50 ball corner. His only downside is that he is not a ball hawk according to scouts. Dennard is a good number two corner if he can play to his potential, he is a nice cover corner but has only started 24 out of 77 games in his 6 years in the NFL. Oliver and Sheffield will fight for the 3rd corner spot and while neither were great in 2019 the entire Falcons defense wasn’t great.
Safeties – B-
- With Keanu Neal returning from injury after playing only 4 games the last two seasons the Falcons safety unit should get a boost. Neal had 8 forced fumbles in his first 2 seasons proving that he can play in the box and is a hard hitter. Neal can also cover well which will help the Falcons young corners. Allen and Kazee will fight for the 2nd safety spot, Allen has started 50 games for Atlanta since 2016 and knows their system but Kazee presents an upside not many safeties can match. Kazee has 10 interceptions over the last 2 seasons and covers well. It’s likely due to Allen’s experience however that Kazee will become the rotational guy.
Edge Rushers – B-
- Tak McKinley might not be a bust but he has not lived up to expectations in Atlanta. McKinley was drafted 26th overall in 2017 and while he totalled 13 sacks in his first 2 seasons his sacks fell to 3.5 in 2019. Dante Fowler was in my view the worst free agency signing of the offseason. Fowler Jr had 11.5 sacks in 2019 and 16 tackles for loss. While Fowlers stats portray a great year in 2019, he saw most of his pressures and sacks unblocked or clean ups meaning he will likely regress to his previous career mean in 2020 with around 5 sacks and 6 tackles for loss. Meaning the Falcons will have vastly overpaid and their edge rusher duo will be very average.
Interior Defensive Line - A
- The Falcons have one of the best interior defensive lines in football with great talent and depth. Grady Jarrett is the hall mark name that leads the unit with his elite play over the last two seasons both against the pass and the run. Davison is a great 2 down run stopper and has started in 55 games over the last 4 years, Bailey is a 9 year veteran and a great rotational piece for any defensive line and rookie Davidson is a 4 year starter who elevated his play and production as a senior finishing 12 games with 6.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. Davidson could benefit from some developmental ears before becoming a starter and in the Falcons stacked defensive line that will likely happen.
Linebackers - A
- Deion Jones was one of the two bright spots of Atlanta’s defense in 2019. Jones is an elite coverage linebacker who can defend the run well to, there is no doubt that Jones is one of the best linebackers in football. Oluokun and Bucannon will provide some decent depth, but one will need to become the day one starter. Bucannon has started 57 games I 6 years and while he is nothing special, he is a decent starter, whereas Oluokun has only started 10 games in his two years in Atlanta but has showed promise as both a cover and run stopping linebacker.
Overall Grade – B- 5.3
Quarterback – C+
- Teddy Bridgewater in one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL. He may not possess the athletic ability or tools that some quarterbacks possess but he has intangibles that those quarterbacks do not have either, all he does is win. He is 22-12 for his career, he finished 11-5 in his last full season as a starter and 5-0 went Drew Brees went down in 2019.
Running Backs – A+
- Christian McCaffrey is the best running back in the league, primarily down to his ability to be a team’s number one running back and receiver. In 2019 he beat his own record of most receptions by a running back in NFL history and became the 3rd player in NFL history to have 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season. Ultimately, McCaffrey is just incredible and now he has a game manager at the very least with Bridgewater under centre the Panthers offense might be able to reflect McCaffrey’s greatness. Mike Davis is a nice versatile back up who can both run the ball and catch it out of the backfield.
Wide Receivers – B+
- D.J. Moore took a huge leap in year two shown in his yards per game which increased from 49.3 yards to 78.3. Moore is a good route runner who creates consistent separation and has good hands but what allows him to be great is his shiftiness, and elusiveness as a ball carrier. It’s been a long time since Carolina have had a true number one receiver, many have tried and failed but I believe D.J. Moore will become that in the years to come. Anderson and Samuel are great 2ndand 3rd options, Anderson was playing as a number one receiver in New York but put up above average numbers, as a number two he could flourish. Curtis Samuel has improved every year and as the 3rd receiver he will see favourable looks.
Tight Ends - C
- Some people are hopeful for Ian Thomas to have a breakout season, but I just don’t see it. He has started 9 out of 32 games the last 2 seasons and finished 2019 with 333 yards. Most tight ends do blossom in their 2nd year but Thomas didn’t see the snaps, so there is potential he could blossom in 2020 I just don’t think it will.
Offensive Line – B-
- Russel Okung and Taylor Moton are both good starting tackles and Carolina have two good backups in Daley and Little. Okung is a 10-year durable veteran who is still a great pass blocker, but like Moton, although he is a great pass blocker, he is not the best run blocker. Matt Paradis was a big disappointment in his first year in Carolina but if he can return to his Denver play, he will be a great starting center. Either side of Paradis is Miller and Schofield who both have a lot of starting experience but are not great starters.
Corner Backs – C+
- Donte Jackson is an incredible athlete running a 4.32 at the combine and literally jumping off screens in the NFL. Jackson takes the ball away with 7 interceptions in his first two seasons and has the potential to be lockdown he just needs to develop into it. Eli Apple might have started 48 out of 55 games since being drafted 10th overall in 2016 but his has plain and simply been a bust. He is a decent 3rd option but nothing more. Rookie Troy Pride Jr has a lot of potential with NFL speed, size and athleticism. However, Pride still needs to become more consistent and work on his technical skills like footwork before he is a good starter.
Safeties – B-
- Tre Boston is criminally underrated, while he has never been a great run defender, he is an elite cover safety who can take the ball away having totalled 11 interceptions over the last 3 seasons. Given Head Coach Matt Rhule’s recent comments it appears rookie Jeremy Chinn will start at safety in 2020. Chinn is a 6ft 3, 221 lb defensive back that Rhule has fallen in love with during training camp, Chinn is viewed by many scouts as a position less player that Rhule could line up all over the defense.
Edge Rushers – C+
- Brian Burns could make a huge jump in his 2nd season similar to T.J. Watt, Burns had 7.5 sacks as a rookie whilst only starting 5 of his 16 games. However, Burns will likely start all 16 in 2020 and have even better numbers. Gross-Matos was a great pick up this season by the Panthers, he had 34.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks in his last 2 years in college. Gross-Matos still needs to fully develop his rush tools and fill out his big athletic frame, but once he does, he could be a great edge defender for years to come. Weatherly and Obada are both nice rotational players, Weatherly has started 7 out of 49 games whereas Obada has never started a game in his 26 games played.
Interior Defensive Line – B+
- Kawann Short missed 14 games in 2019 but has been elite in years past. Short is a great run defender who can also rush from the interior well. Short will not only be great himself in 2020 but he will be an incredible presence for rookie Derrick Brown to be around. Panthers fans had their heads in their hands when the Panthers passed on Isaiah Simmons to draft Brown 7thoverall this offseason but Brown is an incredible prospect at 6ft 5 and 326 lbs. He will be a walk on good starter whose size, athleticism and quick release allow him to stop the run very well and while he is a good rusher, he provides more pressures than sacks, so his presence isn’t valued as highly. Together Short and Brown could be a great interior duo.
Linebackers – C+
- Shaq Thompson has been the Panthers starter alongside Kuechly for 5 years stretching across 61 games, he is a good tackler and blitzer but has struggled in coverage, something he will be forced to improve on as the lead linebacker in 2020. Tahir Whitehead is an 8-year veteran who has defended the run at a good level his entire career. Whilst both Thompson and Whitehead will tackle and blitz well as a duo they could be exposed and taken advantage of in coverage.
Image By: Lisa Ferdinando