Panthers depth chart 2014: Looking at team deficiencies

I know the feeling Garry. - Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

There's plenty of time to fix problems, but the Panthers have a lot of them.

The NFL draft was recheduled to May, free agency continues and it's hard to see how the Carolina Panthers will look come September. There are some positions that remain wholly intact, while others are barely NFL caliber at this point. The team as constructed today is a shadow of the one we'll see in the regular season, but that doesn't mean we can't look at the current depth chart to get a sense of where the problems lie.

Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer looked at the roster, while adding some important notes about strengths and weaknesses. Now it's our time to do something similar and offer an early grade on how the roster looks.

Note: Depth is based purely on seniority. It's too early to say if one unproved UDFA is better than another, for example. In addition, consider this an incredibly early, way-too-premature look at those likely to make the roster.

Offense (22 players)

Position No.1 No.2 No.3
QB Cam Newton Derek Anderson
RB DeAngelo Williams Jonathan Stewart Kenjon Barner
TE Greg Olsen Mike McNeill
WR1 Jerricho Cotchery Kealoha Pilares Marvin McNutt
WR2 Tiquan Underwood Tavarres King
LT Byron Bell
LG Amini Silatolu Phillipkeith Manley
C Ryan Kalil Brian Folkerts
RG Edmund Kugbila Chris Scott
RT Garry Williams Nate Chandler
FB Mike Tolbert
Grade: C-

The offense is a total mess right now. Three things are keeping this from being a "D" or worse: Cam Newton, Greg Olsen and the running backs.

Could the answer be on the roster? Maybe, but that's a scary prospect looking at the players as projected. Starters at offensive tackle are bad, and that's generous. Furthermore there's no depth behind them. Looking at the holes on the roster it's clear the draft needs to address both positions. It doesn't have to be in the first two rounds, but the team has to find depth.

Defense (23 players)

Position No.1 No.2 No.3
DE1 Greg Hardy Mario Addison Wes Horton
DT1 Star Lotulelei
DT2 Kawann Short Dwan Edwards
DE2 Charles Johnson Frank Alexander
OLB Chase Blackburn A.J. Klein
MLB Luke Kuechly Ben Jacobs
OLB Thomas Davis Jason Williams
CB1 Antoine Cason Josh Thomas Josh Norman
CB2 Melvin White James Dockery
SS Roman Harper Colin Jones
FS Charles Godfrey Robert Lester
Grade: B

It's not a terrible grade overall, but even the best defense in the league can't lose three starters and keep their lofty position. Here the biggest problem is the secondary. Melvin White is beloved, but was incredibly inconsistent (as you'd expect from a UDFA), it's unclear if Antoine Cason's problems were location not ability, while Charles Godfrey is a wild card.

The pass rush remains strong, that's the good part -- stopping the pass after the ball has been thrown? That's where it gets ugly.

Special Teams (3 players)

Position Name
K Graham Gano
P Brad Nortman
LS J.J. Jansen
KR Kealoha Pilares
PR Kenjon Barner
Grade: B-

Graham Gano was one of the league's best kickers in 2013, while Brad Nortman broke out as a second year punter. If Ted Ginn was still in the mix this would be an "A" without thinking, but shakiness at both return spots makes projecting the special teams an unknown.

The upside is that outside of losing Jordan Senn the coverage should be okay. Depth linebackers and guys like Colin Jones still being on the roster helps on that end.

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