Panthers 2014 Position Preview: Offensive Tackle

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

My vote for the weakest position on the team, as it stands right now before training camp, is easily offensive tackle. The Panthers have decided the answer to Jordan Gross' retirement was already on the roster. Subsequently QB Cam Newton will be relying on tackles that have yet to prove they are quality NFL starters.

The position is so up in the air we are not sure which position the guys at the top are going to play. It starts with whoever wins the left tackle position, whether it be Byron Bell, Garry Williams or even Nate Chandler. Getting the left tackle position decided doesn't really help with the right side starter. Chandler appears to have the edge at the moment but once training camp starts it will be real fluid.

Here's the current tackles on the roster competing for four spots and my odds for their Panther future.

Byron Bell 6'5" 340 Lbs 4th season (New Mexico)

As the Panther brass stated back in April, Bell is competing at LT and appears to have the edge at the moment. If it's not Bell at LT then it gets a little scary really given the other options. Even if he should get beat out at LT Bell is most likely going to start on the right side. The Panthers favor Bell for some reason so I think it's Chandler and Williams competing for the spot across from Bell, whatever that may be.

Probability of making the roster 100%; Probability of starting: 90%

Nate Chandler 6'4" 315 Lbs 3rd season (UCLA)

Chandler is another guy the Panther brass loves and so I think he is a lock to make the roster and appears to have the edge at a starting job...for now. He has continues to rotate through mini-camp at both tackle spots with Bell so it's hard to say how the line-up eventually materializes. Athletically Chandler appears a better fit at LT, at least in pass protection. Up to this point though he has seemed destined to land at RT. I think it's way too early to declare either tackle spot as Chandler's for the taking. I expect his transition from DT to OT to still require more time.

Probability of making the roster 100%; Probability of starting: 50%

Garry Williams 6'3" 315 Lbs 6th season (Kentucky)

Garry Williams would have a great chance of starting in 2014 if only he wasn't coming off major knee surgery. Williams suffered a ACL and MCL tear in the Panthers 2013 season opener against the Seahawks. Consequently I expect the Panthers to work him in slowly which will limit his opportunity to win a spot. There is the slight chance his knee needs more time and he gets cut but more likely he makes enough of an impression to earn a roster spot. He will really need to shine to start week 1 but if his knee holds up he could be a surprise start at RT.

Probability of making the roster 90%; Probability of starting: 25%

Andrew MacDonald 6'6" 310 Lbs 2nd season (Indiana)

MacDonald was a good LT in college but spent his first season on the Dolphins practice squad. The Panthers signed him to their practice squad after Miami waived him, which was just before the Ritchie Incognito fiasco. MacDonald might be this year's unknown guy who wins a job, he has as good a chance as any 2nd year player, but it seems unlikely given the state of the Dolphins line when he was waived. That could all change once TC rolls around but the good news for MacDonald is he doesn't have a lot of competition.

Probability of making the roster 60%; Probability of starting: 10%

Kevin Hughes 6'4" 315 Lbs 3rd season (SE Louisiana)

Hughes was a UDFA in 2011 who played a few games at the end of his rookie season for the Rams. But they didn't keep him around so he landed on the Chargers PS for a few games in 2012. He then attended the Packers TC before getting axed on the final cut down. The Panthers signed him in January and will rotate him on both sides to see where he fits. Of course Hughes could surprise us but more than likely he is a camp body up until roster cut downs.

Probability of making the roster 10%; Probability of starting: 1%

Oscar Johnson 6'6" 345 Lbs 2nd season (LA Tech)

Johnson is a former JUCO transfer that played mostly on the left side once he transferred to LA Tech. He spent part of his rookie season on the Tennessee PS after failing to be drafted. He has nice size, a slightly bigger version of Byron Bell. Honestly though he has a tough uphill climb to make this roster. Instead call him ‘training camp meat'.

Probability of making the roster 5%; Probability of starting: 0%

David Foucault  6'8" 305 Lbs Rookie season (Montreal)

The big Canadian is very impressive...until you get him in pads. There has been many a huge man that has failed to grace an NFL roster after looking perfect for the part. Unfortunately size and strength are not the only qualities needed to earn a roster spot. The initial reports have said he looks slow which is not a good sign. He could still earn a roster spot, I believe every players has shot but the odds say he ends up back in Canada before the first snow fall.

Probability of making the roster 1%; Probability of starting: Snowball's chance in Hell

If you are like me you might have noticed Travis Bond is not on the list. That is because the Panthers quietly waived Bond back in May and it never hit the news cycle.

So that is the current Panther depth my fellow Panther fans. I know some fans hold out hope the Panthers will pick up a veteran tackle released during roster cut downs in order shore up the depth. While it could happen and the Panthers have been lucky in that regard in the past (ex: Dwan Edwards) it is unlikely to occur this year at such a key position. Rememebr how fast the top 4OT's went the draft? The position is over-valued honestly and that drives up contracts. I would jump for joy though if that scenario did play out.

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