Probably the least attractive position in the league, O-Line might be the most important position for the Panthers this year.
Protect Cam Newton’s shoulder at all costs. That should be the motto for the group this year. After losing both Kalil’s (one to retirement/signing with the Jets today and one to free agency), the Panthers have to fill some holes. They did just that, signing Center Matt Paradis to a 3 year $27 million contract and also drafting Greg Little in the second round of this year’s NFL draft. Let’s take a look at who’s got the inside track to start at each spot.
Greg Little was an underwhelming prospect in this year’s draft after coming out of high school as a highly touted 5-Star recruit. Playing in the SEC, Little faced premier pass rushers day in and day out and held his own for the most part. His deficiencies come as a run blocker, which might pose a problem for a Panthers team that loves to run the ball. Taylor Moton is also gonna get a shot at the left side and has all of the tools to jump Little for the starting job. Moton has been with the Panthers for 2 seasons now and has the edge over Little in that he knows the offense already.
Prediction: Moton starts the season at Left Tackle
Greg Van Roten played very well last year and he wants the rest of the league to know, he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. With a little depth behind Van Roten, I don’t see anyone challenging him to start. The fifth-year Penn product started every game for the Panthers last season for the first time in his career and I expect more of the same this year.
Prediction: Van Roten starts the season at Left Guard
Matt Paradis was one of the under the radar signings this offseason as far as fans know. But executives around the league loved this signing. He takes over for Ryan Kalil, who was a rock on the offensive line for the better part of a decade. Paradis should do just fine, at 29, the price tag seems to be just right for one of the better centers in the game.
Prediction: Matt Paradis starts at Center
As is the case with Left Guard, the Right Guard spot is all but solidified by 4x Pro Bowler Trai Tuner. Turner was only able to play in 13 of the 16 contests last year but that didn’t stop him from earning his fourth straight Pro Bowl. Turner is the new “Rock” on the offensive line so he will look to set the tone.
Prediction: Trai Turner starts the season at Right Guard
With not much on the open market or through the draft, the Panthers chose to resign a familiar face to a one-year prove-it deal. Darryl Williams is a solid option at tackle and has proven he’s up to the task. Although he spent much of last year with a knee injury when he has filled in he has done a solid job. With not much competition on the right side for Williams other than South Carolina rookie Dennis Daley.
Prediction: Williams starts the season at Right Tackle
Stay tuned as I round out the offense by breaking down the Tight End position!