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Updated: 2018-01-17T14:18:52-05:00


2017 Carolina Panthers position review: Center



It was a rotating door for much of the year at the center position, and it’s clear it is potentially time to look toward the future.

Center was definitely an area where we got a good look at both the starter and depth at the position throughout the 2017 season. After Ryan Kalil injured his neck, we saw a long stretch of games where Tyler Larsen played extended time, and we even got a short look at Greg Van Roten as well. Let’s break them down:


Ryan Kalil - 11th season, 6 games started

The 2017 season marked the second straight year that Ryan Kalil didn’t start more than half the games played. His advanced age and heavy workload throughout his career are clearly starting to wear his body down. While Ryan is still the unquestioned locker room leader of the offensive line, I would measure that he has fallen to the 4th best lineman, ahead of only his brother, Matt Kalil. When Ryan was active this season, he was generally average at best, and at worst he was bad. His deficiencies were clearest in the run game, where the Panthers struggled to find consistent center push all year while he was in the lineup. The team will need to seriously consider their options for the future, both on the roster, and available in the draft. I don’t expect a free agent signing at this position.


Tyler Larsen - 2nd season, 10 games started, 14 games played

Tyler was the de facto starter for much of the season, having played in more games, and started more games, than Ryan Kalil did. In fact, looking at the season in retrospective, once the Panthers traded Kelvin Benjamin away and Larsen became more comfortable in his role, that was when the running game for the team was flourishing the most. Youth and strength are his strong suits, unfortunately, technique is not. Larsen is one of the worst “lean-blockers” I’ve seen on our team. His weight seems to never be centered over his feet, and this causes him to reach out when he blocks making him very susceptible to underneath moves. Also, because his hands aren’t rooted in a place of strength by proper footwork, he loses the handfighting battle often. Now that we have had a solid season’s worth of games to study Tyler Larsen, I feel confident in him as great long term depth, but not as “the future” at center.

Greg Van Roten - 3rd season, 1 game played

Greg Van Roten was one of our best preseason players, and he earned his way onto the 53 man roster. He intrigued me throughout camp, and what I saw there and in the preseason games carried over into very limited action during the regular season. Van Roten has a very high motor, like a man with something to prove. He is still somewhat of an enigma as far as getting time versus starters in meaningful games, but he is promising. He seems to have excellent leg drive in the run game, though I’ve struggled to get a good look at his pass blocking technique. We’ll see what happens with him next year, but I expect he’ll be around.

Carolina Panthers final 2017 fantasy rankings review


I also include the biggest surprise and bust by position These rankings may differ slightly than those in your league due to scoring differences. For this post I’m using the CSR Yahoo! Sports fantasy app. Quarterback Cam Newton - No. 5 quarterback Cam Newton finished the 5th highest scoring quarterback which is right around where most thought he would produce. Of course the big reason is Newton’s numbers are bolstered by his running ability. Newton only threw for 3,300 yards and 22 touchdowns versus 16 interceptions but he also added 754 yards rushing and six rushing touchdowns. I think Newton will be a value pick in next year’s fantasy drafts (not CSR leagues though). Biggest surprise - No. 1 Russell Wilson While many drafted Wilson as the No. 5 to No. 10 quarterback, Wilson blew the competition away. As the No. 1 fantasy scorer, he outscored Tom Brady by 54 points on the season. Biggest disappointment - No. 15 Matt Ryan After finishing in the top three in 2016, Ryan succumbed to the Super Bowl curse. A close second is Drew Brees who went off the board in the 2nd or 3rd round in many leagues. Running Back Christian McCaffrey - No. 10 running back McCaffrey is the kind of duel threat fantasy owners love. In fact McCaffrey scored a lot more points catching the ball than he did running it. He rushed for 435 yards and two touchdowns but added 650 yards and six touchdowns as a receiver. I think this is what you can expect from the talented rookie going forward. I thought McCaffrey was over drafted in the 3rd round but that actually turned out to be just about right. I think he will be under valued pre-draft next season but the change in offensive coordinators could multiply his fantasy value. Jonathan Stewart (No. 41 running back) was a disappointment to say the least, piling up his lowest yardage (680) in four seasons. His six touchdowns were too sporadic to warrant a roster spot week to week. Biggest surprise - No. 1 Todd Gurley Gurley was a 3rd round or later draft pick in many leagues but he blew the competition away. Rookie Alvin Kamara at No. 3 was just as big a surprise but an even bigger value. With Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson in New Orleans, Kamara went undrafted in many leagues, including CSR 1. Biggest disappointment - David Johnson (IR) I get it’s hard to fault a guy for getting injured, but Johnson was drafted No. 1 in most leagues and then was lost for the season after only 11 carries in the season opener. That hurts! Look for a bounce back season in 2018. Wide Receiver Devin Funchess - No. 23 wide receiver Funchess didn’t crack the 1,000 yard mark (840) but his eight touchdowns on the year was impressive. I look forward to an even better year next season as Newton’s top target. No other Panthers wide receiver made a significant fantasy impact worth mentioning. By the way, Kelvin Benjamin finished as the No. 48 wide receiver as injuries limited his playing time all season. Biggest Surprise - No. 3 Keenan Allen After an injury filled 2016 season Allen turned it on in 2017. Biggest Disappointment - No. 8 Julio Jones Jones was a top three pick but his production faltered right along with quarterback Matt Ryan. Odell Beckham was many times drafted above Jones he was lost to injury after four games. I will say though he was on a respectable pace at the time of injury. Tight End Ed Dickson - No. 26 tight end Dickson was rarely fantasy relevant if at all. As you know Greg Olsen was lost for most of the season to injury. Biggest Surprise - No. 3 Zach Ertz Ertz had a breakout season working until he lost Carson Wentz. Nobody saw Ertz having such a big season but he won’t be overlooked again. Biggest Disappointment - Greg Olsen Olsen was the 3rd ranked tight end in most drafts so everyone drafting him had to be disappointed he got injured so early. Tight end is one of the hardest positions to back fill due to injury. Team Defense Panthers - No. 11 defense The Panthers defense was one of the top yardage defenses but in fantasy they lagged due to a lack of[...]

The Scratching Post: Carolina Panthers news and links 1/17/18



Here’s today’s collection of Panthers links for you to discuss.

Greetings, internet users. Welcome to The Scratching Post.

Here’s some reading material from outside CSR for you to consume.

Tough decisions loom ahead for Panthers in free agency, draft preparations | Jourdan Rodrigue, Charlotte Observer
The Panthers had a dizzying 2017 season, and the start of 2018 was no different. Here’s what’s next for Carolina in free agency and the draft.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. not part of Carolina Panthers ownership group | Brendan Marks, Charlotte Observer
Retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. told the AP on Tuesday that he is not one of the two drivers affiliated with a potential Carolina Panthers ownership group.

Panthers Portrait Doppelganger | (photos)
View photos of your Panthers and their art doppelgangers via the Google Arts & Culture app.

Feel free to discuss the links above, or use this thread to chat about (almost) anything you want: video games, food, movies, non-football sports, you name it. As long as it’s allowed by the site’s ToS (i.e. - no politics and/or religion) then it’s fair game here.

You know the drill.

This is now an open thread!

Carolina Panthers get a solid re-grade for 2017 offseason from ESPN


Using the benefit of hindsight, ESPN insider Mike Sando gave the Panthers a solid re-grade for their efforts in building the roster before the 2017 season began. Mike Sando from ESPN has re-graded every NFL team’s 2017 offseason with, as he put it, ‘the benefit of hindsight’ and using the grades he originally gave each team during the summer. Because ESPN requires Insider access to read the entirety of the article, I’m only going to share a small portion of the write-up for Carolina. If you wish to read the whole thing, you can do so here (ESPN Insider is required). Here’s a snippet of his re-grade for the Panthers: Carolina Panthers Re-grade: B+ | Offseason grade: C Re-signing defensive lineman Kawann Short (7.5 sacks), re-signing defensive end Mario Addison (11 sacks), bringing back defensive lineman Julius Peppers (11 sacks) and drafting running back Christian McCaffrey were big moves that produced no regrets. The move to fire GM Dave Gettleman shortly before training camp will require time to evaluate. ~Mike Sando, ESPN (Insider required) Here’s a portion of the original piece written on June 6, 2017 by Sando (ESPN Insider is required to read the whole thing, but you can do that here if you desire): Carolina Panthers Grade: C First-round pick Christian McCaffrey is almost universally liked by coaches and evaluators alike. However, coaches do think the Panthers would be much better positioned to utilize him if their passing game were predicated on timing. An exec used the term “mind-blowing” to describe the five-year, $55.5 million deal Carolina paid to former Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil. ”I do think a liability for them is going to be their offensive line, still, which has been their Achilles’ heel, the tackle spot,” an evaluator said. “They addressed it with Kalil, but we will see if they really addressed it with Kalil. That is an example of a signing that could backfire on them.” ~Mike Sando, ESPN (Insider required) My take I think a B+ grade is fair. The Panthers got a lot of unexpected production from guys like Julius Peppers, and while Christian McCaffrey wasn’t the beast at running back that we hoped he would be, he was still a solid contributor to the offense. I do believe a lot of the problems we saw from the offense have been solved with the dismissal of former offensive coordinator Mike Shula*, and I think our expectations for the offense in 2018 should be higher than they were last offseason. What about you, Panthers fans? Do you think the Panthers exceeded their offseason expectations, met them, or failed to reach them? Share your thoughts below! [...]

2018 NFL Draft: Carolina Panthers add a weapon for Cam Newton in CBS Sports’ latest mock


In CBS Sports’ latest mock draft, the Panthers finally add a weapon at wide receiver for star quarterback Cam Newton. The latest mock draft from CBS Sports gives Panthers fans something they’ve been wanting all season - a legitimate weapon at wide receiver for Cam Newton. The name they’ve chosen might surprise you, but at this point I think we’ll take any wide receiver who can get open and make plays when the ball’s thrown his way. From CBS Sports: 24. Carolina Panthers - Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis The Steve Smith [comparisons] for Miller are too obvious to ignore. Both are small wideouts whose toughness, quickness, and contested-catch capabilities allow [them] to thrive on the outside. It would be an interesting choice, for sure. WalterFootball ranks Miller as the seventh best wide receiver prospect in the draft and projects him to be drafted in the second or third round. That’s a little low compared to CBS Sports’ projection of a late first round pick. Here’s WalterFootball’s breakdown on Miller: Anthony Miller, WR, MemphisHeight: 5’11” | Weight: 190 lbs Projected 40 time: 4.52 Projected round (2018): 2-3 1/13/18: Miller played really well for Memphis, showing good route-running, quickness, good hands, and elusiveness after the catch. He had 92 receptions for 1,462 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2017. Miller came up huge to help Memphis upset UCLA and has created some positive buzz for himself in the scouting community. Miller is viewed as more of a second-day talent who could be a weapon as a slot receiver in the NFL. 7/17/17: Miller is smaller receiver, but he was massively productive for Memphis in 2016 as the No. 1 receiver for quarterback Riley Ferguson. Miller totaled 95 receptions for 1,434 yards with 14 touchdowns on the year. The previous season, he hauled in 47 passes for 694 yards and five touchdowns. Miller and Ferguson should be poised for another big season in 2017. WalterFootball isn’t the only source who sees Miller as a Day 2 prospect. From Rotoworld: (emphasis mine) Memphis redshirt senior [wide receiver] Anthony Miller was sporting a boot on his right foot and was using crutches following the team’s loss to Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl on Saturday. Miller (5’11”/190 lbs) caught four passes for 55 yards and a score in the contest. It’s unclear at this juncture just how severe the redshirt senior’s leg injury might be, but anything which requires a lengthy rehab could potentially prove problematic for draft evaluation purposes. A healthy Miller would likely land on Day 2 (Rds. 2-3) in the spring. He’s heading to the Senior Bowl next month assuming this injury concern does not sideline him for that postseason showing. Cole Patterson from Blogging the Boys has also written about Miller, and instead of taking snippets from his piece I’m going to link the whole thing and strongly suggest you give it a read. It’s solid work and should give you a better idea of whether or not you want the Panthers to draft Miller with the No. 24 pick. My take I would welcome Miller with open arms if the Panthers decided to draft him. The Panthers have to give Newton weapons to be successful, and if we’re going to stick with the Norv Turner style of offense — one that requires receivers on the outside who can get open downfield on their own and make plays — then we’re going to have to find those guys and add them to the roster. We currently only have one of them right now (Devin Funchess) so we need at least one more if we want to seriously contend for a Super Bowl title during Newton’s prime. Whether the Panthers find that guy in free agency or the draft is another discussion, but I think we can all agree that a dynamic receiver for Newton is something the organization needs to find sooner rather than later. If there’s nothing better available at another position of need (S, DE, C, OT, etc.) then there’s no reason not to take the best wide rec[...]

Forget the last four weeks, the Carolina Panthers are on an awesome 7-year run


Don’t worry, be happy! Is it just me, or do you also feel a growing sense of frustration among Panthers fans? The discouragement has been building for a couple of weeks now. In Week 16 the Panthers looked lethargic in a critical though unimpressive win against the lowly Buccaneers. In Week 17 Carolina’s offense was terrible in a loss to the Falcons when a victory would’ve won the NFC South. Then, in the Wild Card loss to the Saints, the Panthers squandered multiple opportunities in a winnable playoff game. Two days after the deflating postseason loss, Carolina fired offensive coordinator Mike Shula and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey. There was hope among Panthers fans that the team would hire innovative, forward-thinking replacements to unleash Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey. Instead, Norv Turner and his 129 years of NFL experience (or something) was hired as OC with his son, Scott, hired as quarterbacks coach, a move that reeks of nepotism over hiring the best available candidate. The news of the Turner hirings was met by the Cat Scratch Reader community with a collective, “Meh.” It’s been four straight weeks of letdowns around here. The Bucs game. The Falcons loss. The Wild Card. The Turners. In discouraging times like these it can be helpful to take a step back and see the big picture. Look on the bright side. Smell the roses. Count your blessings. If you’re a bit down right now, just remember this: Since Ron Rivera was hired and Cam Newton was drafted in 2011, the Panthers have been the sixth most successful team in the NFL. Here’s why. Regular season success Between 2011 and 2017, the Panthers have won 64 regular season games, the seventh highest total in the NFL over that span, per Football Reference. Over the last seven years we as Panthers fans have been treated to more wins than all but six other fan bases. There are fans of 25 other teams looking up at us and wishing they knew what it was like to cheer for such a good team. In the Rivera/Newton era, the Panthers have had a chance to win on almost any given Sunday, and few teams can make that same claim. Postseason success While regular season wins are nice, true success in the NFL is judged by sustained postseason accomplishments. The best way to evaluate postseason success, in my opinion, is to ask two questions: How often does a team make the playoffs? Did the team make at least the divisional round (second round)? Making the divisional playoffs is important. It means you are one of the four final teams left in your conference. It puts you just two wins away from a Super Bowl berth. It’s hard to “luck” your way that far into the postseason. In most cases there is little shame in losing in the second round of the playoffs. After all, the team that beat you now has a fifty-fifty chance of reaching the Super Bowl. In the seven seasons between 2011 and 2017, the Panthers have made the playoffs four times and appeared in the divisional round three times. Based on my own research from, only five teams have exceed the Panthers postseason success of at least four playoff berths and three divisional round appearances. Cheer up! When looking at regular season wins combined with postseason performance, the Panthers are the sixth most successful team in the NFL over the last seven seasons. Only five teams have exceeded Carolina’s resume of at least 64 regular season wins, four playoff berths, and three divisional round appearances: Yeah, the last four weeks have been pretty deflating for Panthers fans, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture. The Panthers have been one of the NFL’s best teams in the Rivera/Newton era. Ron Rivera, a two-time NFL Coach of the Year, is still coaching. Cam is still Camming. Luke Kuechly is still arguably the NFL’s best defensive player. The defensive front seven is still solid. The offensive line is gelling. Greg Olsen will get hea[...]

The Scratching Post: Carolina Panthers news and links 1/16/18



Here’s today’s collection of Panthers links for you to discuss.

Greetings, internet users. Welcome to The Scratching Post.

Here’s some reading material from outside CSR for you to consume.

Ron Rivera a rock in a rocky situation | Bryan Strickland,
The head coach's contract extension brings a bit of stability to an organization undergoing significant change.

What's next for the Carolina Panthers? | Richard Walker, Gaston Gazette
After fourth playoff berth in five seasons, organization enters perhaps it's most turbulent offseason in franchise history

Thomas Davis explains decision to retire after 2018 season | (video)
Linebacker Thomas Davis excited about making one more run at a Super Bowl championship before fully turning attention to his family.

Feel free to discuss the links above, or use this thread to chat about (almost) anything you want: video games, food, movies, non-football sports, you name it. As long as it’s allowed by the site’s ToS (i.e. - no politics and/or religion) then it’s fair game here.

You know the drill.

This is now an open thread!

2018 NFL Draft: Carolina Panthers get some offensive line help in Dan Kadar’s latest mock


Could the Panthers pick up an offensive tackle at No. 24 overall? The latest mock draft from Dan Kadar is out, and according to his most recent prediction the Panthers will get some help for Norv Turner’s offense by adding to the offensive line. Here’s Kadar’s latest selection for the Panthers: 24. Carolina Panthers: Connor Williams, OT, Texas After Carolina was eliminated from the playoffs, Panthers left tackle Matt Kalil was referred to as “Speedbump McGee” by Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan. If the Panthers agree, they could look for a new tackle early. Williams’ draft stock is varied, so it won’t be a surprise if he’s around in the middle of the first round. ~Dan Kadar, SB Nation CBS Sports ranks Williams as the No. 4 offensive tackle and the No. 24 overall prospect in the draft. That lines up with where the Panthers pick, so if you believe the Panthers need to add an offensive tackle to their roster, Williams could be the best one available when it’s time for Carolina to hand in their card. USA Today’s Draft Wire is also high on Williams, listing him as the No. 2 offensive tackle prospect. Walter Football isn’t as enamored with Williams as others, however. They’ve projected Williams to be drafted in the third or fourth round and have him listed as their No. 10 offensive tackle prospect as of January 6, 2018. Here’s a little more on Williams from WalterFootball: Connor Williams, OT, Texas Height: 6’6” | Weight: 290 lbsProjected 40 Time: 5.10Projected Round (2018): 3-4 1/6/18: Williams returned to play in the final couple of games of 2017 before shutting it down to prepare for the 2018 NFL Draft and decided to skip his bowl game. He missed seven games of the 2017 season. Midway through the first half against USC, he went down with a torn knee meniscus and strained ligaments. As we reported in the Hot Press, Williams was receiving some mid-round grades from evaluators this season. The main issue that sources said was hurting Williams is a lack of strength. One AFC team in need of tackle help said they gave him a late third-round, early fourth-round grade. I spoke with a NFC general manager who scouted Williams in person this season, and they were disappointed in Williams overall. They felt Williams lacked strength and thought him overhyped. This NFC general manager said they thought Williams was a fourth-rounder. Williams had a disappointing season opener against Maryland, getting flagged for numerous holds, including some that canceled out big plays for his team. He allowed some pressures and hits, too. Williams has some athletic ability, and some evaluators feel he should move inside to guard. 9/1/17: Williams broke into the starting lineup at left tackle as a freshman for the Longhorns in 2015 and locked down the position. He improved as a sophomore as he was a steady pass protector and consistent run blocker. Williams has good length, quickness and athleticism. He needed to add more power, and he is supposedly up to 315 pounds entering the 2017 season. Scouting sources say that at this point, they see Williams as a first-round offensive tackle. In pass protection, Williams is a good athlete with quickness on the edge. He has length with long arms and height to make it hard for edge rushers to get around him. Williams has quick feet, balance, and gets depth in his kick slide to neutralize edge rushers. Even though Williams wasn’t overly powerful last year, he showed a nice ability to sustain his blocks in pass protection. As a run blocker, Williams is excellent at using his quickness to fire to the second level to hit blocks to spring his running back for some long runs. Williams uses his athleticism to hit blocks in space and is superb at hitting blocks on linebackers to create lanes for the ball-carrier. ~WalterFootball My take I’m not sure if the Panthers w[...]