Charles Johnson 6'2" 285 lbs
Big Money made another big splash last year. Did you know that he was 3rd best DE in terms of sacks last year? How about the best DE in terms of forced fumbles and #2 across all positions? For a defense that most fans wouldn't really think of as imposing, the Panthers have their weapons and Johnson is a big part of it. He's been an anchor on the right side since the departure of Julius Peppers and there doesn't seem to be any slowing down for the veteran end.
Probability to Start: 100%
Greg Hardy 6'4" 274 lbs
The Kraken is... a bit of a nut, but you gotta respect his passion. Personally, I'm all for his attitude, especially when he combines with Charles Johnson to be the best DE combo since Peppers and Rucker in Carolina, and one of the best duos in the league. It's been great to watch Hardy really shift into another gear and start to become a dominate force in his own right. Last year, he added 11 sacks of his own to 61 combined tackles. Let's hope we can find a way to keep the Kraken in Carolina.
Probability to Start: 100%
Frank Alexander 6'4" 270 lbs
Before last season, we were all wondering if Greg Hardy was going to take the next step. The year before, he showed some flashes, but was a liability in run defense. So when the Panthers drafted Frank Alexander, everyone seemed to settle on the idea that his guy would be the heir apparent to Hardy. Well, Hardy went on a straight up rampage last season and Frank Alexander only played in certain situations. With both Hardy and Johnson being 3-down caliber guys, Alexander's role was limited. He did add 2.5 sacks and 18 tackles during his time, but it's hard for him to break into that lineup behind such talented defenders. While Hardy and Johnson are in Carolina, Alexander's role will remain limited.
Probability to make the roster: 100%
The Other Four
It's hard to know what to make of the remaining DEs on the roster. Alexander will get any reps not seen by either Johnson or Hardy, limiting all other DEs.
Mario Addison 6'3" 257 lbs
At the moment, the remaining four DEs seem to be camp bodies with the exception for Addison, who made a few appearances for the Panthers last season in limited roles. He joined us midway through the season after being signed off the Washington Redskins' practice squad. He seems to have the inside track for the a final 4th DE spot plus the fact he helps on special teams.
Probability to make the roster: 60%
Louis Nzegwu 6'4" 255 lbs
Nzegwu is a former practice squad member of the Miami Dolphins who was also picked up this summer. He's a long shot to make the roster.
Probability to make the roster: 1%
Wes Horton 6'5" 264 lbs and Craig Roh 6'4" 274 lbs
Both are UDFAs who signed with us this off season. We don't know much about them and consequently don't have much hope they will make the roster outside of a special teams. Even that is a long shot.
Probability of either to make the roster: 1%
Most likely, the Panthers will carry 4 DEs, meaning one of these guys will have a chance at the roster unless there is another veteran signing coming in late, but it's not likely they will see much time outside of that. The practice squad, however, is always a possibility.