Each NFL season, every team has a player that bears a little added attention. So which performer could turn the corner for the Carolina Panthers in ’17?
Welcome to yet another 32-team series from End Zone Score. In recent months, we took the time to look at each club’s best offseason addition. We even dabbled into some pertinent and historical numbers.
Every NFL season features players that come into their own after a slow start to their careers. It’s tough to tell when each performer’s coming-put party will take place. Some are immediate successes. Others take longer due to numerous circumstances, but they prove to be worth the wait. Here we will try and pinpoint a player from each team in the league that we feel is on the verge of putting it altogether.
The falloff on the defensive side of the football for the Carolina Panthers this past season was disturbing. Yes, may will lie a lot of the blame on the cleats of quarterback Cam Newton. The 2015 NFL MVP saw his club fall to 6-10 following a 15-1 showing and an appearance in Super Bowl 50.
But it’s hard to ignore the fact that Ron Rivera’s club gave up nearly 100 more points this past year (402) than they did when they were conference champions (308). After finishing 11th in the NFL in pass defense in ’15, only three teams in the league allowed more aerial yards than the Panthers.
This past season, Carolina defenders allowed 27 TD passes while totaling only 17 interceptions. The previous year, Rivera’s squad gave up just 21 scores through the air while picking off 24 passes. Of course, the Panthers were minus cornerback Josh Norman this past season. After four years with the organization and the team giving him the franchise tag, the latter was rescinded and he got a big deal from the Washington Redskins.
In the 2016 draft, the Carolina Panthers added three cornerbacks in James Bradberry, Daryl Worley and Zack Sanchez. The former was a second-round pick that year. Via Pro Football Focus, he ranked just behind Detroit Lions pro Darius Slay (83.0) and just ahead of Jacksonville Jaguars’ 2016 first-round pick Jalen Ramsey (82.5) when it comes to pass coverage rankings at the position (82.6). With a year of experience under his shoulder pads, James Bradberry will take a big step forward in 2017.