Carolina Panthers: 5 Players Who Would Start for Other Teams

Jimmy Grappone@cltsportshubCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2012

Carolina Panthers: 5 Players Who Would Start for Other Teams

0 of 5

    The Carolina Panthers are not the deepest team in the NFL, but there are at least a handful of non-starters on the Panthers' roster who could start for several other, if not most, NFL teams.

    Carolina improved its depth at wide receiver this week when they traded an undisclosed draft pick to the Oakland Raiders for fourth-year WR Louis Murphy (via CBS Sports).

    Murphy had 90 catches for 1,371 yards and six touchdowns in three seasons with Oakland.

    Murphy is not an established veteran who can slide right into a starting role with the Panthers, but he adds depth to the position and increased competition for Brandon LaFell's No. 2 receiver spot. The move to trade for a receiver who is essentially guaranteed a roster spot effectively ends Armanti Edwards' chances of making the team.

    The Panthers also traded away offensive tackle Jeff Otah to the New York Jets for essentially the same price, making the competition for the right tackle position one of the top battles heading into Carolina's preseason and training camp (CBS Sports).

    The Charlotte Observer's Joe Person reported that Byron Bell, Garry Williams and Bruce Campbell will compete for the starting role according to Panthers' GM Marty Hurney.

    Here is a look at five Carolina Panthers who are (or have been) projected to play backup roles this season but who would start elsewhere in the NFL.

Backup Running Back: Jonathan Stewart

1 of 5

    The Carolina Panthers employ a rotational backfield which, along with the Houston Texans' Arian Foster and Ben Tate, is arguably the deepest and most talented backfield in the NFL.

    DeAngelo Williams is officially the Panthers' starting running back.

    That makes Jonathan Stewart the backup RB entering his contract year, but only on paper.

    Stewart, who averaged 5.4 yards per carry in 2011, is like Batman to William's Superman as opposed to a more traditional sidekick-superhero relationship. J-Stew and D-Will, aka "Double Trouble," each gained over 1,000 yards rushing in 2009 and they have the potential to repeat that accomplishment this season.

    Stewart will hit the free agency market in 2013 and he will be given ample opportunities to become another team's featured back. 

Backup Wide Receiver: David Gettis

2 of 5

    The Panthers just got deeper at wide receiver, and Brandon LaFell and David Gettis just got some more competition for the No. 2 wide receiver position with the recent addition of Louis Murphy.

    However, the starting job belongs to LaFell heading into the preseason and training camp with Gettis nipping at his heels and Murphy arriving late to the party that is Rob Chudzinski's offense.

    Gettis started over LaFell in 2010 when both players were rookies and he entered training camp as the starter in 2011 before tearing his ACL in practice and missing the entire season.

    Gettis could re-emerge as Carolina's starting receiver opposite Steve Smith at some point this season, and he has the talent to start for at least a dozen or more NFL teams as a solid secondary receiver with great straight-line speed and the ability to get open deep.

    Only time will tell how well his knee has recovered, though it is being reported by the AP's Steve Reed that Gettis will enter training camp on the PUP list as his knee continues to strengthen and heal.

Backup Linebacker: Thomas Davis

3 of 5

    Thomas Davis has been a starting linebacker throughout his entire career with the Carolina Panthers.

    He will come off the bench in 2012.

    Davis tore his ACL for the third time last season and he is attempting to become the first NFL player to return to the field after three ACL tears and operations.

    When healthy, Davis would start on most NFL defenses, but Carolina drafted linebacker Luke Kuechly with the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft.

    Jon Beason, James Anderson and Kuechly make up the Panthers' starting linebacker corps, but Davis will be the first LB off the bench. Davis will continue to be a productive player, especially if Carolina's defensive coordinator Sean McDermott takes advantage of his speed in pass-rushing and blitzing situations.

Backup Defensive End: Antwan Applewhite

4 of 5

    Antwan Applewhite is a high-energy player who provides the Panthers with a spark off the bench at the defensive end position.

    Though he only had a couple of sacks in his first year with Carolina, Applewhite was one of those players who always seemed to make an impact whenever he was on the field in 2011.

    Ron Rivera, who coached Applewhite as the San Diego Chargers' defensive coordinator in 2012, liked his former player enough to poach him from his old team and bring him to Carolina last year.

    The Panthers are relatively deep, if not spectacular, at the defensive end position.

    Charles Johnson's starting role is secure, but there will be competition between Greg Hardy, rookie fourth-rounder Frank Alexander and Applewhite for the other starting spot.

    Though Applewhite will likely reprise his backup role, he could occasionally break into Carolina's starting lineup and he could certainly start for another handful of teams or more.

Backup Tackle: Byron Bell

5 of 5

    Byron Bell started 12 games at right tackle for the Panthers as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2011 filling in for an injured Jeff Otah. 

    Carolina moved the injury-prone Otah to the New York Jets just four days before the start of training camp, meaning Bell will compete with Garry Williams and Bruce Campbell for the starting right tackle position.

    None of the trio is as good as a healthy Otah, though the trade may have thrust Bell back into the Panthers' starting lineup.

    Williams started eleven games in place of an injured Otah in 2010 and Campbell—acquired this offseason from the Raiders in the Mike Goodson trade—was an NFL combine freak in 2010 who may be the most athletic player on the offensive line.

    Bell improved significantly as he gained more experience last season and his versatility at tackle and guard makes him an ideal plug-in lineman, though he could start somewhere for at least a dozen NFL teams.

    The Carolina Panthers just may be one of those teams.

    Jimmy Grappone is a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Carolina Panthers for Bleacher Report since 2008.

    Follow the Panthers' writer on Twitter @jimmygrappone.

    Recent articles by Jimmy Grappone:

    Carolina Panthers' Complete 2012 Preseason & Training Camp Guide

    Cam Newton Not Overrated

    Predicting Panthers' Depth Chart at WR

    5 Biggest Media Misconceptions About the Panthers

    5 Reasons Defense Will Lead Panthers' Playoffs Push


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.