The quest continues to form the worst Panthers team of all time. The offense needs a final few pieces, and now we turn our sights to the cornerback position. A spot which (surprisingly) hasn't been abysmal for Carolina over the years.
I've elected to leave Josh Norman out of today's voting. It may not be a popular decision, but it seems counter-intuitive to what this process if trying to achieve if we vote in a rookie who struggled. What if he turns it all around? This roster is supposed to stand the test of time! Regardless, we have four excellent candidates -- and the top-two vote getters make the roster.
Career statistics in Carolina: 29 games (29 starts), 91 tackles, 4 INT, 22 PDef
The cornerbacks are a legitimate chance for members of the 2003 Super Bowl team to also be awarded a place on the Kitty Litter Team.
Go back to 2003 if you want to know what Carolina's defense will look like in 2013. It was a unit with amazing pass-rushing potential up front, reliable linebackers behind them, two solid safeties (which the team don't have now) -- all paired with two of the worst starting cornerbacks in the NFL.
The Panthers never sniff the Super Bowl if not for the defensive front, because the corners were so terrible. It didn't hurt having Ricky Manning in the slot either, who was full of flaws too -- but managed to generate turnovers.
Cousin was the better of the two 2003 corners, but still deserves the opportunity to start on the kitty litter team.
Career statistics in Carolina: 61 games (34 starts), 161 tackles, 5 INT, 27 PDef
It would have been nice to make it through this process without naming someone currently on the 53 -- but c'est la vie.
The issue with Captain isn't the 27 games he's played in the slot (in that role he's been fantastic), it's the 34 where he's been asked to cover top-flight receivers on the outside. While he took huge strides forward in 2012, the body of work still needs to be taken into account. He's a player that every team needs, because he does the dirty work so well -- but in terms of being a reliable, every-down corner... he's not.
Career statistics in Carolina: 47 games (44 starts), 164 tackles, 5 INT
Poole capped off a double-dose of first round busts for the Panthers in 1995. I'll still never understand why he garnered a single vote when Jaxon looked at draft busts back in 2011, because he was definitely deserving.
Similarly to the 2003 corners, Poole benefit from having a good pass rush in front of him -- but that shouldn't be confused with him being any good.
This draft selection was so strange in so many ways. Bill Polian took at 5-8 cornerback, from a DII school with a first round draft pick. The justification for why Poole would work was his near-40-inch vertical -- but that can't be relied on, and quickly it showed that he was in over his depth.
Kudos to Poole for putting together an 11-year career in the NFL, but in Carolina he wasn't good.
Career statistics in Carolina: 47 games (29 starts), 142 tackles, 5 INT, 13 PDef
There he is! The other half of the Panthers' 2003 Super Bowl tandem. Howard was the least talented of the two, and showed an inability to play man coverage on a reliable basis. He was helped a lot by Mike Minter, and that helped mitigate how bad he looked on Sunday.
Everything that applied to Terry Cousins applies here, plus it's impressive to note the disparity between tackles and passes defended. You're guaranteed to have bad news when you see that.