Panthers 2013 Position Review: OG

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There was no position on the Panthers roster more maligned than offensive guard. The Panthers lost both preseason starters to injury early in the season creating a vacuum at the position when rookie OG Edmund Kugbila went on IR as well. Yet there was a bright spot on one side of the line.

Here's a look at the players that got at least a dozen snaps at OG during the season.

Travelle Wharton (911 snaps, 82% of snaps)

The Panthers signed Wharton as a free agent late in the preseason (8/26/13) after injuries threatened the Panthers depth at the position. Within 3 games he was starting at LG and never looked back. I think an evaluation from Canadian Panther best summarizes his contribution tot he 2013 season in Brian's recent Unsung Hero post:

CSR Unsung Hero Award for the 2013 Offseason - Cat Scratch Reader
CanadianPanther: Travelle Wharton is the unsung hero of 2013. He's stabilized the left side of the offensive line and is a huge reason why the Panthers run game did so well this season. He's shown great ability in space as a lead blocker, which is impressive considering his age (32) and the fact that he was coming off a major ACL injury. He's also been steady in pass protection, as he did not allow a single sack on Cam Newton this season, per PFF.

PFF ranked Wharton the #3 LG int he NFL for the season. When you combine that result with the fact the bar wasn't set very high for a 32 yr old free agent LG coming off an ACL injury, it makes this grade real easy. In fact, in spite of his age I would sign him on for another season even if its as back-up since he can also play OT in a pinch. Trust me other teams will take a hard look at the at the soon to be 33 yr old.

Ranking Carolina's free agents: Nos. 12 and 13 - Carolina Panthers Blog - ESPN
12. Travelle Wharton: The 32-year-old wasn't re-signed until right before the season with starting left guard Amini Silatolu and fourth-round pick Edmund Kugbila nursing injuries. Both eventually went on injured reserve. Both also will be back next season. The Panthers also have Nate Chandler and Chris Scott at guard. So Wharton may be expendable for the same reason the Panthers waited so long to sign him. The team wants to move forward with young players. The good news is Wharton lives in the area and likely will be available if needed in an emergency situation again.

Grade: A

Nate Chandler (632 snaps, 52% of snaps)

After getting converted from the DL this past offseason the bar has never been set high for Chandler and we would have preferred he simply sat and learned the position this season. Yet the aforementioned injuries forced him into action early and often and the results were mixed at best. Chandler had some horrid games but he also had some games that showed he might have a future at the position. As far as being a quality starter though Chandler still has a long way to go.

Grade: D

Chris Scott (532 snaps, 48% of snaps)

The Panthers signed Scott in early August in hopes he could provide punch in the running game. Scott had never started a game in his first three seasons but he got playing time immediately in Carolina. Scott did play fairly well in the running game but he was a huge liability in pass protection. About the time he started to get his feet under him he went down with injury and missed 6 games. Scott is still young and has some upside but whether he can develop into a quality starter is still up in the air.

Grade: C

Amini Silatolu (170 snaps, 16%)

Silatolu came into the season as the starting LG who finished the 2012 season strong. He unfortunately went on IR with a right knee injury after playing in only three games. Up the that point he played adequately but wasn't lighting it up either. Given he only played a short period I don't have enough to really put a grade on his season.

Grade: Incomplete

Geoff Hangartner (66 snaps, 3%)

'Piggy' as we know him was signed in the latter half of the season and saw little playing time. Given the Panthers originally cut him in training camp his signing was more about getting a guy they know versus a player who might contribute in the future. Too few snaps to grade for the season but we know what Hangartner has to offer.

Grade: Incomplete

Garry Williams (15 snaps, 1.5%)

After winning the RG spot in the preseason Williams went down in the opener with a knee injury. He was poised for a good season I think so if he can get healthy he might be have a shot at RG yet again.

Grade: Incomplete

Edmund Kugbila (0 snaps)

Kugbila never suited up for the Panthers as he was injured throughout TC and went on IR early in the season. GM Dave Gettleman has stated he will consider Kugbila a part of the 2014 draft class since his rookie season was essentially suspended.

Grade: Withdrew from class

Overall Position Grade: C

I think that is a very gracious overall grade given how bad the RG position was for most of the season. But Wharton's exceptional play balanced it out well enough for 12 wins and a NFC South crown. We can only pray the position gets more stability in the future.

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