NFL Team Previews: Carolina Panthers
AFC West: DEN | KAN | OAK | SDG
NFC West: ARI | STL | SFO | SEA
Not too much new in Carolina.
Julius Peppers made an attempt at getting out of Charlotte, but he got tagged with the franchise player instead, and no team bit on his price. The Panthers did extend Jake Delhomme for another five years, for better or for worse.
More recently, the Panthers assigned the injured Maake Kemoeatu to the injury list and signed Kevin Kaesviharn and Kelvin Smith.
But for the Panthers, the most noticeable news came in the draft.
Everette Brown was once projected as a top ten pick, and he just missed out on being a top ten pick in the second round.
Sherrod Martin and Corey Irwin kept the flavor on the defense, and speedy Mike Goodson adds depth and insurance to the already powerful running game.
Oklahoma guard Duke Robinson also spent most of the off-season being projected as a first rounder, and the Panthers picked him up in the fifth round.
Three Burning Questions
Can the run game continue their effectiveness?
Last season DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart became the best one-two punch in the league, as the two combined for 2,449 yards and 28 touchdowns on the ground.
Stewart is nursing some nagging injuries, so can Williams be as effective if he has to run more than 17 times per game?
Woodson has impressed with his play during the preseason, and the offensive line is one of the best. Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah, now with Robinson, should continue to open the holes.
The overall end result may not be quite as impressive as 2008 was, but they should continue to be in good shape.
Is Jake Delhomme still the answer in Carolina?
This may be a two part question. Is Delhomme still good enough to lead this team, and does he have enough weapons to make a difference?
Of course, there's Steve Smith, but what else do they have?
Dwayne Jarrett has yet to consistently get on the field. Muhsin Muhammad had a very impressive 2008, but is 36 years old. There are no threats at the tight end position.
If no one emerges and Smith gets constant double coverage, it could be a long year for Delhomme.
Can the Panther defense return to prominence?
Carolina was only ranked 18th in defense last season, and an even worse 20th in run defense.
Kemoeatu is injured, Jon Beason is nursing an injury, Peppers may be a bit unhappy to still be in town. This could be a recipe for disaster in Charlotte.
This has the look of a defense that is still in decline, and doesn't show a sign of improving for at least another season or two.
Good play: DeAngelo Williams is a top five draft choice, and he can be taken at any point in that top five. Steve Smith will find some stats, but he's probably only the 10th receiver off the board. A healthy Stewart will be a good depth pick.
Avoid: Delhomme won't find too many targets, and the Panther defense could be a mess.
Sleeper: There really isn't one, but for the Panthers' sake, Bowe better step up and become that 2nd threat.
For the prognosis and final record, read the originally posted article here.
This is an original article by Pigskin Heaven Staffer, Sascha Bartels. You can read it, more of Sascha's articles, and more from the Pigskin Heaven staff here.
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