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Panthers free agency: Ron Rivera hopes Ross Cockrell will challenge James Bradberry for No. 1 cornerback spot

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Ross Cockrell was brought to Carolina due to his ‘competitive nature’, according to Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.

According to a recent article from ESPN’s David Newton, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is hopeful that the addition of free agent cornerback Ross Cockrell will push James Bradberry and create a competition for the No. 1 cornerback spot on the depth chart.

Rivera said that the ‘lack of real competition’ between Daryl Worley — who was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for wide receiver Torrey Smith — and Bradberry was one of the reasons the team decided to go in a different direction at cornerback.

It was the lack of real competition between Worley and Bradberry needed to raise the level of their game.

“That’s one of the things that when we go back and look at the last two seasons, I’m not quite sure if Daryl and James did that enough with each other, you know, as to who was going to be the No. 1 guy,” Rivera said last week at the NFL owners meetings.

“You push and compete against one another, you’re going to make each other better. I’m not sure if we did that enough.

Rivera also said that one of Cockrell’s strengths is his ‘competitive nature’, and that was one of the reasons Carolina decided to make him an offer after the three-year, $24 million deal for Bashaud Breeland fell through due to a failed physical.

Rivera and his staff were familiar with Cockrell, a fourth-round pick out of Duke in 2014 who played high school football in Charlotte.

In looking over his pre-draft notes from that year, Rivera noticed one of Cockrell’s strengths was his competitive nature. Add that to four years of experience with Buffalo, Pittsburgh and the New York Giants, and the Panthers believe they have somebody that will help challenge Bradberry for the No. 1 corner spot.

“Ross can do that because he’s a competitor,’’ Rivera said. “You have to really study guys and watch them. And some of the things that we wrote about him when he was coming out gave you that sense of feel.”

Added into the mix at cornerback is Kevon Seymour, who was acquired in a trade early last season with the Buffalo Bills. There’s also a possibility the Panthers use one of their eight draft picks in the upcoming draft on a cornerback to fill in some much-needed depth at the position. With Bradberry, Cockrell and Seymour — as well as the possibility of a draft pick — the Panthers hope to have a young, quality rotation at cornerback for the next four or five years.

What do you think, Panthers fans? Do you think Bradberry and Cockrell make a solid one-two punch at cornerback? Would you like to see the Panthers add a cornerback in the draft, or focus their attention on other positions? Share your thoughts with us!


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