An early look at the Carolina Panthers 2013 depth chart

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Premature depth charts are never accurate, but gives an opportunity to see where the team's weaknesses are after the first week of free agency.

There's a lot that can change between now and September, that much is clear. However, as we draw closer to the draft it's an opportunity to see where the roster's strengths and weaknesses lay. Today we're taking an early look at how Ron Rivera's team are coming together.

Dave Gettleman did excellent work over the last month to shed salary, improve the cap situation, and strengthen the team's special teams unit. The draft will be the second part of this development, and that will fill the holes we currently see.

Offense

QB: Cam Newton/ Derek Anderson/ Jimmy Clausen

RB: Jonathan Stewart/ DeAngelo Williams/ Tauren Poole

FB: Mike Tolbert

TE: Greg Olsen/ Ben Hartsock/ Ritchie Brockel

WR1: Steve Smith/ Ted Ginn/ Joe Adams

WR2: Brandon LaFell/ Kealoha Pilares/ David Gettis

LT: Jordan Gross/ Bruce Campbell

LG: Amini Silatolu/ Thomas Austin

C: Ryan Kalil

RG: Geoff Hangartner/ Jeff Byers

RT: Byron Bell/ Garry Williams

Defense

DE: Greg Hardy/ Mario Addison/ Thomas Keiser

DT: Frank Kearse/ Sione Fua/ Colin Cole

DT: Dwan Edwards/ Nate Chandler

DE: Charles Johnson/ Frank Alexander

SLB: Jon Beason/ Kenny Onatolu

MLB: Luke Kuechly

WLB: Thomas Davis/ Jordan Senn

CB1: Drayton Florence/ D.J. Moore/ Josh Thomas

CB2: Josh Norman/ Captain Munnerlyn/ James Dockery

SS: D.J. Campbell/ Mike Mitchell

FS: Charles Godfrey/ Haruki Nakamura

Specialists

K: Graham Gano

P: Brad Nortman

LS: J.J. Jansen

KR: Ted Ginn

PR: Ted Ginn

The Weaknesses

Defensive tackle

You don't need to be told how bad the situation is, but putting it down on paper makes it downright scary. Getting back Dwan Edwards was vital -- but the depth is as poor as it gets. They have to find a way to bolster this unit prior to the draft, even if the plan is to find a first round talent at the position.

Third wide receiver

Right now Ted Ginn is penciled in, and that's less than ideal. Teams have been burnt in the past relying on Ginn in the slot, and the Panthers can't be the next in line. A 49ers fan stopped by after the signing and told us it looked like Ginn lost a step following his 2011 injury, and while he's still better than what Carolina have on special teams, even hobbled, they have to find a true option to support Cam Newton. The offense needs new weapons, and the bright side is that the team realize it.

Right side offensive line

Maybe I'm in the minority, but I think the left will be fine in 2013. The return of Ryan Kalil will ease a lot of Amini's first-season struggles, and there was enough growth over the course of the season to believe he'll be okay. The real problem is the right, where Carolina are leaning on Geoff Hangartner (who was abysmal) and Byron Bell (with a share of lapses). This is a huge liability, especially when Cam doesn't deal well with rushing defensive tackles, and front-side blitzes.

The Strengths

Linebacker

Switching out James Anderson for Jon Beason is addition by subtraction. Granted, this is assuming Beast returns to full-strength, but it's too early to postulate otherwise. With Jordan Senn returning it offers more quality depth, and players who can play on special teams. The loss of Jason Phillips will hurt slightly, because he was an excellent option where needed, but overall it feels like this unit is stronger than last year's, purely by virtue of the likely starters.

Cornerback

"Things I never thought I'd say for $500, Alex"

Make no mistake, the loss of Chris Gamble is a huge hit on the top-end talent of the secondary, however the depth throughout the unit is much improved through the additions of Drayton Florence and D.J. Moore. In this scenario Josh Norman retains his starting job, and it's largely for no reason other than size. Rivera and Gettleman have talked about the need to play big, and here I think they'll rely on the two largest corners on the roster -- especially with the cadre of NFC South receivers.

Defensive end

Johnson and Hardy are one of the NFL's best pass rushing duos, and now they're supported with quality depth. Frank Alexander has a lot of room to improve, but showed flashes in his rookie season. Pair that with late-season pickup Mario Addison, and Thomas Kesier -- both of whom have had moments, and ultimately this is a group of pass rushers who look like they can make an impact.

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