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Carolina Panthers: ESPN Top Under-25 Talent

In case you haven't heard of Football Outsiders, they do great statistics (DVOA) adjusting statistics offensively and defensively based on what plays are being called, personnel on the field and quality of the opponent. Their statistics are top notch and fairly innovative to compared to some of the other stuff that's out there. Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders (FO), wrote an article grading teams based on the quality of players aged 25 and under. The Panthers ranking shouldn't surprise anyone here at CSR, but may be a surprise to the national media. See his ranking and reasoning after the jump.

 You need to be an ESPN insider to read the entire article, but here's the section about the Panthers:

2010 NFL Organizational Rankings show Houston Texans with top young talent. (
2. Carolina Panthers There are currently 81 players on the Panthers roster, 58 of whom are either 25 or younger. That's a sign of how salary cap issues and a veteran roster forced the team to throw a lot of young talent at the wall and see what sticks. The reality, though, is that the Panthers have both quality and quantity. Their best young player, of course, is middle linebacker Jon Beason, who deserves to be in the conversations about the league's best linebackers. No middle linebacker -- not even Patrick Willis -- is better in coverage. Carolina had the league's second-ranked pass defense last year by Football Outsiders numbers, and its oldest starter in the secondary is 27-year-old Chris Gamble. He's the only one of their top six defensive backs older than 25. Defensive end Charles Johnson is 24, and by the end of the year, he'll be starting across from 2009 second-rounder Everette Brown, who is 22. The offense, though, is Carolina's more impressive young unit. Even without including Matt Moore, who turns 26 in August, there's serious talent to be had. The star is halfback Jonathan Stewart, who is every bit the back DeAngelo Williams is, but struggles to stay healthy. The offensive line opening holes for Stewart and Williams is among the league's best, and it features two elite young players in center Ryan Kalil and right tackle Jeff Otah. This year, they'll be joined by guard Geoff Schwartz, who made it to our Top 25 Prospects list and profiles as another excellent masher in the running game. They've even got a viable receiving prospect in tight end Gary Barnidge. With Moore, Jimmy Clausen, and Tony Pike on the roster, they've got three guys to compete for the long-term answer at QB.

That's right, the Panthers ranked behind only the Houstan Texans. The two main things I noticed that I might say I disagree with are the bit about Stewart struggling to stay healthy and the omission of Hunter Cantwell in the list of young QB's.

For what it's worth, the other NFC South teams were ranked:

30) Tampa Bay

28) New Orleans Saints

7) Atlanta Falcons

Other than that, great article and great ranking. Go Panthers!