Just twelve short months ago you would be hard pressed to find a position that was going through more turmoil than defensive end. The absence of Julius Peppers alone created a vacuum in which the organization were relying on the mostly untested Charles Johnson, veteran Tyler Brayton with Everette Brown and Greg Hardy hoping to add something to the Panthers' pass rush. It required a major leap of faith on the part of fans, and in the end the result was very optimistic.
2010 Statistics (16 game starter): 62 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 1 FF
Julius who? If there is one player that will help fans forget #90 it's Charles Johnson. The 4th year DE was a man on a mission in 2010 wrecking opposing offensive lines and becoming one of the few bright spots in a dour season. At 6'2", 275lbs he's the ideal size you want at the position and was severely overlooked in Pro Bowl voting.
Letter Grade: A+
More after the jump....
2010 Statistics (14 game starter): 22 tackles
If there's one player the Panthers really needed to step up and help it was Tyler Brayton, and he couldn't do it. He failed to get a single sack in 2010, and while he supported Charles Johnson, surely helping attribute to his great season there's no doubt he was just terrible in 2010.
Letter Grade: F
2010 Statistics (2 game starter): 25 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 INT
Definitely a player whose taken his lumps from fans over the last two years, we are fast approaching the 'put up or shut up' time for Everette Brown. At times I definitely agree with the masses that he has been underwhelming, but the fact is that on a per-snap basis he's trending a lot like Charles Johnson did before he broke out in 2010. Are you ready to be surprised? I was:
- Brown was 15th in the NFL among DEs in overall stop rate (84%)
- Brown was 25th in the NFL among DEs in run stop rate (79%)
So, while he didn't spend a lot of time on the field in 2010, Everette Brown really used his time effectively.
Letter Grade: B
2010 Statistics (No games started): 30 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 FF
One curiosity to me has been the fanbase's effusive praise of Greg Hardy this offseason, yet a large amount of condemnation for Everette Brown. Fact is, they were almost identical players in 2010. Hardy played 26 snaps to Brown's 25 and their numbers are very comparable, however, Brown had a better stop rate (84% vs. 73%).
Hardy's future is very bright as he proved he can be a difference maker in just his first season. His 65% stop rate against the run (66th at his position) is definitely an area to improve on. He will need to tighten up his run stopping if he hopes to be a true three-down DE and not just a 3rd down pass rusher.
Letter Grade: B
The future is extremely bright for the Carolina Panthers at the DE position. Provided Charles Johnson can be resigned while Brown and Hardy keep making strides we should be poised for long term success at DE. When this is coupled with some much needed defensive creativity from Ron Rivera and co. we will have a dominant rush sooner, rather than later.
Letter Grade: B