CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 9: Terrell McClain #97 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after making a tackle against Darren Sproles #43 of the New Orleans Saints during the first half at Bank of America Stadium on October 9, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
SBN's Ryan Van Bibber has continued is team rankings by position with DL (CE & DT) being the next position. The Panthers DTs were ranked about as you would expect, maybe even a little higher:
Carolina was roundly criticized for standing by its current group of defensive tackles, a group of players hit hard by injuries. Ron Edwards, who turns 33 this month, is the best of the bunch -- and missed all last season with a torn triceps. Terrell McClain and Sione Fua both ended their rookie seasons on IR last year. The Panthers do have a pair of ends who can get to the quarterback in Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy. Expect bigger numbers from Hardy this season, his third, after he had 33 hurries and eight hits to go with just four sacks last year.
Even before their injuries the two rookie DTs were not lighting up, to be gracious. The Panthers were gashed on the ground in many of the Panthers. Calling five other team DL's worse than the Panthers is assuming all the DTs come back healthy, something we are not sure of at this point. Though I like our DE rotation I'm still not sure (but hopeful) we will be stout up the gut.
Even more surprising is that Bibber puts the Panthers one spot ahead of the Bucs at #27 who have two 1st round and two 2nd round picks up front. The Falcons have the highest ranking in the NFC South at a very unimpressive #21 but I can hardly argue for them being higher given how old they are. The Saints are actually ranked the lowest at #30. They should be good against the run but a safety led the team in sacks last season and will probably do it again.
Overall the NFC South is not loaded with fearsome defensive fronts put I think at least one is up and coming!