Panthers DT Chandler Makes Rare Position Change

Grant Halverson

Having played both sides of the ball in his career Panthers DT Nate Chandler took up the Panthers offer to compete on the other side of the ball.

You can't blame him. With the Panthers spending their first two picks on defensive tackles there was already four other players Sione Fua, Frank Kearse, Colin Cole and Linden Gaydosh competing for the 4th and final DT roster spot. On the other side of the line though things are a little less settled, presenting Chandler with an opportunity he couldn't pass up:

Chandler changes sides
"I was willing to do it because I felt comfortable with myself and with the coaches," Chandler said. "It's been challenging for me, but I feel like I'm coming along as far as my techniques as an offensive lineman and getting the plays down." Chandler does have a history of playing multiple positions. He played offensive line and tight end at UCLA before switching to defensive line as a junior. "I'm used to switching from position to position, but being in the NFL," Chandler said, "it's a lot different."

"When they asked me, I wasn't mad, I wasn't shocked," he added. "I just looked at it as an opportunity for me to fight for a position and make a career of it."

Changing positions at this point is risky at best. Just ask Armanti Edwards, who is starting his 4th season trying to transition from QB to WR. Chandler at least has some prior experience on the offensive line which will help him. The best thing he has going for him is the Panthers coaching staff seems to like him a lot. Why else would they spend the time and effort on a UDFA?

Chandler is a 2nd year player out of UCLA and is listed at tackle which I agree gives him the best shot at earning a roster spot. The Panthers typically keep four OTs and in my view only two of those spots are locked down right now, that being Jordan Gross and Byron Bell. Bruce Campbell, and Patrick Brown have yet to deliver on the field and the Panthers know what they are getting in Garry Williams. Williams does have the advantage of being to back-up guard and tackle but he is still no lock for a roster spot.

At 6'4" 300 lbs the coaches like Chandler's feet and his strength, the same characteristics that led to the drafting of OG Edmund Kugbila. Chandler will compete at RT would be my initial guess with LT a possibility in time. What a steal that would be to get a UDFA to adequately back-up LT and possibly start down the road. It's a bold move by the Panthers and Chandler but it is one that could big dividends for both..

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