CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 30: Christian Ballard #99 of the Minnesota Vikings battles for a fumble against Geoff Hangartner #63 of the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on October 30, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Continuing our countdown of the top 20 Panthers to watch in 2012 we move to the other side of the offensive line to veteran and under appreciated #18 OL Geoff Hangartner. 'Piggy' as his nickname goes is a versatile offensive lineman who has played played both center and guard for the Panthers but is currently slated to fill the RG spot.
You might recall Hangartner is on his second tour with the Panthers having left for two seasons for better pastures in Buffalo for the 2009 & 2010 seasons. Obviously that didn't work out too good since he is back in Carolina where he is now happy as a pig in a blanket. Where the Panthers are mostly a young team Hangartner brings a veteran presence to an offensive line under going a bit of a change. What won't change is Piggy's value as a versatile player that can back-up mutlitple positions, one of the prime reasons he will be on the Panthers roster for his 8th season.
James Dator explains, after the jump...:
James Dator: Once thought to be a stop-gap solution, 'Piggy' once again proved to be a reliable and versatile offensive lineman. He impressed the coaching staff and front office to the point where they were willing to part with Travelle Wharton, and having the reliable Hangartner at the RG spot will surely help whoever winds up playing RT; whether that's the oft-injured Jeff Otah, or whether Byron Bell will be asked to shoulder the burden again.
My only hesitation as to whether Hangartner is a long term solution at RG is that the position is usually manned by one of the bigger and stronger linemen on the line and he just doesn't fit that mold playing at 6'5" 297lbs. Now if you require your RG to be smart Rick Bates points out one of Geoff's strengths:
Rick Bates: Piggy is a technician at two positions, both guard and center. He's very smart (reportedly scored a 47 on the Wonderlic) and works as hard as an Alabama cotton picker. I can't think of a better player to provide reliability and stability to the O-Line. Plus, he's happier than a Piggy in manure to be playing for the Panthers.
Well said Rick! So the question remains as to whether Hangartner holds on to the RG spot all season or if he moves into one of the key back-up spots behind multiple positions: center or either guard spot. As I have stated in the past they key might be whether RT Jeff Otah regains his position or not. Current RT Byron Bell might also make a good RG given he has more of the size and strength you look for in a RG weighing in at 330+lbs.
Regardless of why Hangartner is starting at RG and whether he remains the starter for all of 2012 rest assured that when he is in there he is a tireless worker what won't make stupid mistakes such as missing his blitz assignment or adjusting to different defensive fronts. This Piggy will be ready to get down and dirty!