Hello all! Today, I will be taking a look at arguably this offseason's most intriguing pickup, running back Mike Tolbert. With this pickup, the Carolina Panthers have a starting fullback and a player who can sub in at halfback if injuries occur. This pickup (barring any trades) gives the Panthers one of the best all around backfields in the NFL.
Tolbert will immediately contribute, that much is certain. We know that he will be our starting fullback, as well as a special teams player for kick coverage. This was a high value pickup for the Carolina Panthers, who boasted one of the worst special teams units in the league in terms of kick/punt coverage. As a rusher, Mike Tolbert has logged 1,410 yards on 341 carries, averaging roughly 4.1 yards per carry, and 20 touchdowns. As a receiver, Tolbert has racked up 1,012 yards on 109 receptionsand 4 touchdowns. On special teams, Tolbert has logged 47 tackles total, 36 unassisted. He is truly a force to be reckoned with on special teams, and will serve as a great goal-line back for the Panthers.
Tolbert graduates from Coastal Carolina as an FCS Second Team All-American, leading the team with 748 yards and 11 touchdowns. In his 4 years in college, Mike Tolbert never fumbled the ball once. That's more than we can say for
Mike Goodson certain members of the Panthers.
In the NFL, Mike Tolbert was signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Diego Chargers. In his first two years, he received limited touches, making his mark on special teams. In Tolbert's second year, he accounted for 4 touchdowns, and logging 22 tackles on special teams. In 2010-2011, Tolbert saw a lot more time on offense, with a departed Ladainian Tomlinson and injuries to the running backs. Tolbert was a 3rd down and goal-line back, as well as the "co-starter" with Ryan Matthews for a few games. In those two years, Tolbert's touches on offense jumped, and therefore his numbers did as well. Tolbert ran for 735 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010, and ran for 490 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2011. In addition, in 2011 Tolbert caught 54 passes for 433 yards and 2 touchdowns. This can be attributed to the fact that Darren Sproles had signed with the Saints, leaving San Diego looking for a receiving back. Tolbert stepped in nicely at that role.
Over his career, Tolbert has shown great versatility. On offense, he can step in as a 3rd down back, receiving back, fullback, and goal-line back. On special teams, Tolbert is a decent blocker, but made his mark on punt and kick coverage.
For one, Tolbert clearly wants to be here, as he took far less money to play for the Panthers than to stay with the Chargers. As I said before, Tolbert will make an immediate impact on offense. He will still maintain his special teams play, as well as start at fullback for the Panthers. Though the Panthers did not show many looks that required a fullback, having Tolbert in will give Chudzinski another impact running back to give the ball to. In addition, Mike Tolbert can fill in as a goal-line back. We saw many looks last year with Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart on the goal-line in the shotgun. Sometimes, we even saw Stewart, Deangelo Williams, and Newton all take the field. I don't think anyone would be too surprised if Tolbert jumps in on a few formations. The possibilities that I can think of make me jump with excitement, and I can't wait to see what Chudzinski has planned now that we have three good running backs.
But Tolbert's value won't end there. He will be invaluable to what many hope to be a much better special teams unit for the Carolina Panthers this upcoming season. The Chargers were most upset that they were losing a special teams player like Tolbert, and now he will show why. If our offense keeps stride with its number 5 ranking that it had last year, we will see many chances for our coverage unit to shine.
Now Carolina Panthers fans, sit back, relax, and enjoy the tape!
Mike Tolbert: The Thunder Bolt (via TheMrBoltz2)
Could this signing mean bye-bye Jonathan Stewart? What do you guys think?