The Carolina Panthers were given an overall rating of 75 by the designers of Madden NFL 11, placing them at 23rd in the league. That's a big drop-off from Madden 10's rating of 83 and 10th overall in the league, but it is representative of the uncertainty surrounding Carolina this year.
The Panthers come into the season with some major questions at some key positions. Will Matt Moore be the answer at quarterback? Will another wide receiver step up to help Steve Smith? How will the loss of Julius Peppers affect the defense?
With the regular season just around the corner, these questions are soon to be answered. Here's a look at Carolina's player ratings, position by position.
Matt Moore: 76
Jimmy Clausen: 74
Tony Pike: 65
Moore will start at quarterback this year for the Panthers, but if they struggle down the stretch, it's a possibility that Clausen will take over at some point.
In terms of the ratings, Moore and Clausen appear to be evenly matched. But while Moore is still relatively unknown, Clausen is an even bigger mystery. No one knows how he will perform in the pros until he steps on the field.
If Moore continues to progress on the success he found in the latter part of 2009, the Panthers may have a found a real gem at quarterback. If it turns out he is not the answer at the position, this year could begin a long rebuilding process in Carolina.
Steve Smith: 92
Brandon LaFell: 71
Armanti Edwards: 64
Wallace Wright: 63
Dwayne Jarrett: 63
Like last year, there is a huge gap between Steve Smith and the No. 2 receiver, Brandon LaFell. Smith also declined in his overall ranking, falling from last year's score of 97.
Smith's recent injury during a flag football game had to make John Fox very nervous. If Smith were injured during the season, Carolina would be hurting for pass catchers.
The Panthers have a glaring need for another receiver to take pressure off of Steve Smith. Don't be surprised if Carolina ends up being the team that takes a chance on signing Terrell Owens.
DeAngelo Williams: 92
Jonathan Stewart: 88
Tony Fiammetta : 66
Williams dropped two points from last year's 94, while Stewart gained three. The scores show where the strength of the Panthers' offense is.
The running game will once again be critical to Carolina's success (or lack thereof). While their passing game is a big question mark, the Panthers will rely on their one-two punch of Williams and Stewart to score points and control games.
Jordan Gross: 95
Ryan Kalil: 90
Jeff Otah: 86
Travelle Wharton: 83
Mackenzy Bernadeau: 76
While Gross remains the class of the group and stays unchanged from last year's number of 95, Ryan Kalil makes a big leap forward from his total of 82 in 2009. Considering his strong play last season, he deserved the recognition.
With Gross protecting Matt Moore's blindside, and Kalil and Otah opening up big lanes in the running game, the Panthers should be fairly solid along the line.
Jeff King: 73
Gary Barnidge: 71
Dante Rosario: 70
King is the highest-rated in this group, but mainly for his blocking ability. He caught 25 passes for 200 yards last year, but he's more like an extra offensive lineman than an offensive weapon.
Barnidge only caught 12 passes last season, but he had 242 yards for an average of over 20 yards per reception. With his athleticism, he can really contribute to the passing game if the new quarterback can get him the ball more often.
Everette Brown: 75
Tyler Brayton: 74
Tank Tyler: 70
Charles Johnson: 70
After losing Julius Peppers and his 97 rating from last year, the defensive front is an obvious weakness for the Panthers. There isn't a lot of talent here, and they will probably have a lot of difficulty generating a pass rush.
Brown is tops in this group, but that isn't saying much. He's small for a defensive end (6'1", 256 pounds), and isn't very good in run support. Brayton is better in run support, but has limited athleticism and isn't a very good pass-rusher.
Jon Beason: 96
Thomas Davis: 87
James Anderson: 69
Beason's 96 is the best overall rating on the team, and shows a four-point jump from last year. It's a testament to the quality of his play last year, and this tackling machine racked-up a total of 142 stops and three interceptions last year.
Davis tore his ACL during an offseason workout, and he will probably be out for the season. This will leave Carolina with a big void at linebacker, and while Beason is a great player, he can't cover the entire field by himself.
Chris Gamble: 91
Richard Marshall: 82
Charles Godfrey: 75
Sherrod Martin: 75
Gamble is a good cover corner, and he makes an eight-point climb from last year's rating of 83. He also had a respectable four picks during the last season, and he can consistently keep up with the league's best receivers.
Marshall had his first full season as a starter in 2009, and he ended up with a surprising 88 tackles and four interceptions. Despite his smaller stature (5'11", 189 pounds), he has a high athleticism and may be a better playmaker than Gamble. His score of 82 seems a bit low, and he could have a true breakout year in 2010.
The corners are good enough for Carolina, but the safeties are questionable. The back-end of the secondary could prove to be a major weakness in pass coverage.
John Kasay: 87
Jason Baker: 76
Kasay is still one of the best kickers in the league, and it's reflected in his total. Baker is somewhat inconsistent, but he is serviceable.