Breaking Down the Carolina Panthers Roster After the 2014 NFL Draft
The Carolina Panthers have 89 players on their roster. Only 53 will be allowed to remain with the team when camp wraps up in August. General manager Dave Gettleman has added players from both free agency and the draft to construct his current team.
Over the next few months, Ron Rivera and his coaching staff will work with their players and determine which ones are good fits for the team, which will head to the scout team and who will be cut out right.
This slideshow will break down the team's positions and discuss the players who left, the new additions and the outlook moving forward.
Rookie players are identified in italics.
Cam Newton (Starter), Derek Anderson
Joe Webb, Matt Blanchard
The Panthers are set with their starter, but the backup competition should be interesting. Anderson remains the backup for Newton until either Webb or Blanchard unseats him. By the time the final cuts are made and the roster is established, Carolina may only carry two quarterbacks on the active roster.
Webb makes an interesting case as he has a similar skill set to that of Newton, and there is a chance he beats out Anderson for the backup role. However, he will still need to learn the playbook, and that is something in which Anderson has a clear edge.
Newton will be counted on to assume the leadership role and continue to build upon his past experience as his offense will look different in 2014. Getting back on the field will be paramount as he needs to establish a chemistry with his new receivers this summer.
Running Backs/Full Backs
Roster: Running Backs
DeAngelo Williams (Starter), Jonathan Stewart, Kenjon Barner
Tyler Gaffney, Darrin Reaves
Mike Tolbert (Starter), Richie Brockel, Mike Zordich
There shouldn't be too many changes with the Carolina running game this year. The secret to success will be a combination of staying healthy and finding some running room in the trenches. Williams and Stewart should both be expected to lead the running game, and Tolbert is a great short-yardage back.
The new additions of Gaffney and Reaves will showcase their abilities in camp and during the preseason. How they will fit in a crowded backfield has yet to be determined, but they could each get some playing time on special teams.
Greg Olsen (Starter), Brandon Williams
Mike McNeil, Ed Dickson, D.C. Jefferson
Olsen led the team in receiving last year and should figure to be as involved in the offense again this year. With any luck, he won't lead the team but be a top-three receiver behind two of the wideouts. Olsen has proved to be a valuable asset to Cam Newton and has been there for many short-yardage situations.
The guys behind him will be competing for a backup job, and it may be in their interests to maintain good pass-catching practices. Carolina may be going away from the blocking tight end that has been customary with the team for many years and go with one that is more of a receiver.
Marvin McNutt, Tavarres King, Kealoha Pilares, Brenton Bersin, Toney Clemons
Jerricho Cotchery (Starter), Jason Avant (Starter), Tiquan Underwood, Kelvin Benjamin (Starter), Corey Brown, Marcus Lucas
Steve Smith (Released), Ted Ginn, Jr., Brandon LaFell, Domenik Hixon
The Panthers lost all of the starting receivers who played last year. The position saw such a purge that many felt the team would select at last two receivers during the draft. They used their first pick on Benjamin, but afterward, they felt the position was good to go.
Carolina did sign two more rookies as undrafted free agents.
The veteran presence will be comprised of Cotchery and Avant, who could benefit from being among the top three receivers on the team. Cotchery should be penciled in as the No. 1 receiver for the time being and help mentor Benjamin as he progresses into the NFL.
There is still a lot of uncertainty about how effective the unit will be, but there are some talented receivers who can make an impact.
Ryan Kalil (C, Starter), Brian Folkerts (C), Garry Williams (RG), Chris Scott (RG), Dennis Scott (RG), Amini Silatolu (LG), Edmund Kugbila (LG), Michael Jasper (LG), Oscar Johnson (LG), Byron Bell (RT), Nate Chandler (LT), Travis Bond (LT), Andrew McDonald (LT)
Trai Turner (OL), Andrew Norwell (OL), Jared Wheeler (OL), David Foucault, (OL)
Jordan Gross (LT, Retired), Travelle Wharton (RG), Geoff Hangartner (LG, Retired)
Much like the situation with the receiving unit, the offensive line has undergone a huge transformation. With the exception of Kalil starting at center, every position appears to be up for grabs. The Panthers did not draft an offensive tackle as anticipated, but they picked up a stud offensive guard in Turner.
Training camp will feature many position battles among the offensive line, and it should be interesting to see who is starting when Carolina travels down to Tampa Bay to kick off the season. Bell could be moved to the left tackle position, and there is a chance that Kugbila or Chandler replaces him on the right side.
A preliminary look at the starting offensive line could be: Bell (LT), Silatolu (LG), Kalil (C), Turner (RG), Chandler (RT).
Roster: Defensive Tackles
Star Lotulelei (Starter), Kawann Short (Starter), Dwan Edwards, Colin Cole, Linden Gaydosh, Casey Walker
Roster: Defensive Ends
Charles Johnson, (LE, Starter), Greg Hardy, (RE, Starter), Frank Alexander (LE), Craig Roh (LE), Mario Addison (RE), Alex Hall (LE), Wes Horton (RE)
Kony Ealy (RE), Shaq Rowell (DT)
The Carolina Panthers added another capable pass-rusher in the form of Kony Ealy when he was drafted in the second round. Considered a steal, Ealy could be the insurance policy in the event the Panthers part ways with either Johnson or Hardy. Ultimately, it will come down to who will be the better fit moving forward.
Like the outside edge, the interior of the line remains intact, and Carolina should pick up where it left off defensively from last season. Lotulelei and Short could start together this year with Edwards serving as a dependable rotational player.
Alexander will miss the first four games due to a suspension, but Addison has proved to be a good backup. Overall, the defensive front is in very good shape and should be a dominating part of the defense.
Luke Kuechly (MLB, Starter), Thomas Davis (SLB, Starter), Chase Blackburn (WLB, Starter), D.J. Smith, (MLB), Ben Jacobs (MLB), A.J. Klein (SLB/WLB), Jason Williams (WLB)
Denicos Allen (OLB)
One of the most talented linebacker units returns in 2014, and it could be better than ever. Kuechly will lead the defense and be counted on to keep running plays in front of him, while Davis and Blackburn will patrol the outside and generate an additional pass rush behind the defensive ends.
The backups remain the same, and there could be an exciting new addition in Denicos Allen, who was an active part of the Michigan State defense and fits the mold of the Carolina defensive philosophy. His small size may have hurt his value and resulted in him not being drafted, but if he can overcome the bigger, physical blockers on offense, he will be an excellent addition.
Robert Lester (SS), Anderson Russell (SS), Colin Jones (FS)
Roman Harper (SS, Starter), Thomas DeCoud (FS, Starter), Tre Boston (FS)
Mike Mitchell, Quintin Mikell
Carolina repeated the same formula that was used last year to shore up the interior of the secondary. It signed Harper and DeCoud to short-term deals, and they should be able to hold down the fort much like Mitchell and Mikell did last year. Both veterans are experienced and are very familiar with the NFC South, which could pay dividends in preparing for divisional games.
Robert Lester turned in a great year after being undrafted. He had his share of plays during 2013 and should look to build upon his success this year. Having Harper as a mentor should help. Gettleman really likes rookie Tre Boston. He believes he is the kind of physical defender needed in his secondary. Additionally, his selection was due to the fact that Charles Godfrey was moved to cornerback.
Both safety positions should be in good shape this year and could help support any weakness on the outside.
Charles Godfrey (LCB, Starter), Josh Norman (LCB), DeAndre Presley (LCB), Dequan Menzie (LCB), James Dockery (LCB), Melvin White (RCB), Josh Thomas (RCB)
Antoine Cason (RCB, Starter), Bene Benwikere (RCB), Carrington Byndom (CB)
Captain Munnerlyn, Drayton Florence, D.J. Moore
The good news is the Carolina Panthers have two veteran cornerbacks who should be starting Week 1. The bad news is Godfrey may have a bit of a learning curve because he hasn't played the position since college. However, there are viable backups in the form of White, Thomas and Norman.
There are plenty of new faces at the position, and it should be interesting to see how Benwikere turns out. The Panthers traded up to get him in the draft, and he could be the future solution. Until then, the veterans should shore up the need on the outside of the secondary.
Cornerback should be much like it was last year, and with any luck, the corners will do just enough to keep plays in front of them and limit the big play.
Graham Gano (K), Brad Nortman (P), J.J. Jansen (LS), Kenjon Barner (KR)
Ted Ginn, Jr. (KR/PR)
Fortunately, the special teams unit looks mostly intact. Gano and Nortman proved to be great at their respective crafts last year, and there is no reason for that trend not to continue.
However, there is still uncertainty as to who will secure the punt return duties and pair up with Barner on kick returns. The incoming rookie class could fill the need there, but nothing will come to light until camp opens.