Panthers mailbag: Latest on offensive line, positions not addressed in draft and more

·6 min read

The NFL draft has come and gone and OTAs and minicamps are around the corner.

As always, the NFL offseason isn’t actually an “off” time. The Panthers’ front office is in the process of being rebuilt with two new scouts hired — former New England Patriots scout Jon Howard and former Jacksonville Jaguars scout Jared Kirksey — and former Panther Dan Morgan recently being hired as assistant general manager. The team announced Tuesday the hiring of former Washington scout Cole Spencer as director of college scouting, a title that was not previously held.

On the field, decisions need to be made at multiple positions, including along the offensive line. How many of the 11 draft picks will make the 53-man roster? How will Sam Darnold look in Joe Brady’s offense with the players the team is putting around him?

Answers to those questions will have to wait, but we can answer some of yours from Twitter and emails in our post-draft mailbag. Let’s break it down.

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Was not drafting a LB more so because they believe in the current LBs or because there wasn’t a LB at the right spot to take one? — @CPanthersPulse

I think that any position the Panthers did not address in the draft, the team has to feel fairly confident about for the upcoming season. That’s what happens when you select 11 players, including a long snapper in the sixth round. It also can be a combination of both. Addressing linebacker and safety were clearly not as high of needs on the board, compared to areas such as offensive line and cornerback.

If the right players had fallen, there are certainly players the team would have had a hard time passing on, but that wasn’t the case. It speaks to the team’s relative comfort with the depth there, but they could always add players to areas not addressed in the draft in free agency over the next couple of months. There are some good players still out there that could add depth.

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Are the Panthers looking to address LT/ bring in competition, or are they confident they have the guy on the current roster? — @jobinjbone

There is a solid competition set up at left tackle between Cam Erving, Trent Scott, Greg Little and rookie Brady Chirstensen. Is there a clear starter from where we stand today? No, but the team likes the battle that will take place. Don’t sleep on Scott — the Panthers liked how he played in opportunities last year.

That doesn’t mean that the team wouldn’t add competition if the right player became available or if it works out with a free agent, but the athletic Christensen was drafted for a reason. Plus, at this point, it’s not like dominant starting left tackles are sitting around. The Indianapolis Colts signed one of the remaining top players in Eric Fisher Monday.

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I need to know if the Brown and Daley beef is real. What are the intense matches for camp? — @DraftMassta

For our print readers, this question was accompanied by a video of defensive tackle Derrick Brown and offensive lineman Dennis Daley going after each a bit in training camp last year. I wouldn’t read too much into it, but definitely a fun one to watch in OTAs and camps this year.

Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Derrick Brown hits the pads during practice at Bank of America Stadium on Wednesday, August 26, 2020.
Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Derrick Brown hits the pads during practice at Bank of America Stadium on Wednesday, August 26, 2020.

A battle that I can’t wait to see is Brown and newly drafted Alabama offensive lineman Deonte Brown. The two had quite the matchup when Alabama played Auburn in 2019, and their battles in practice will be ones to watch. Deonte Brown noted that he is glad he will only see the 2020 first-round pick on the practice field now as opposed to in a game.

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Greg Little ended both of his two seasons on IR and began last year on PUP. Is he healthy now? Is there a chance he can meet the expectations we had for him for a complete season? — Ken Evans

The 2019 second-round pick has dealt ankle injuries each of the last two years but was also a healthy scratch for multiple games last year. As of now, there doesn’t appear to be serious concerns about his health heading into the on-field portions of the offseason programs and the expectation remains that he’ll be part of the competition for the left tackle job.

Little actually came into last year’s training camp with a separate knee injury that took place during the offseason. Unfortunately, his first two years have been marked with injuries, so it’s a bit of a wait-and-see situation.

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When are the rest of the (jersey) numbers gonna be announced? — @ktpittman1

A good amount of the Panthers rookies have already announced what numbers they will be wearing. Jaycee Horn will wear No. 8, Chuba Hubbard will continue wearing his college number, 30, and tight end Tommy Tremble shared a picture of himself in a No. 82 jersey. Cornerback Keith Taylor appears to be wearing No. 28, per his Instagram.

Part of the delay in the full list of numbers being shared is that there are still some decisions being made in terms of players switching numbers with the new jersey rules. DJ Moore shared last week that he is still contemplating switching to No. 2.

With rookie minicamp starting Friday, some updates on rookie numbers will come this week. Those numbers are subject to change as the roster is decreased and the season gets closer.

The Charlotte skyline rises in the background as the Carolina Panthers practice during training camp on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.
The Charlotte skyline rises in the background as the Carolina Panthers practice during training camp on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.

What’s the latest on training camp? — Greg Z.

The Panthers have been hoping to have training camp return to Wofford College this year after it took place at Bank of America Stadium due to COVID-19 in 2020.

The NFL announced late last week that teams could have training camp away from their practice facilities, so long as they submit and get an infectious disease emergency response (IDER) plan approved. That opened the door to training camp in Spartanburg, S.C., next year, although plans must still be approved and there is nothing yet official.

Have a Panthers or NFL question? Email agetzenberg@charlotteobserver.com for consideration in our next mailbag.

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