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2019 Carolina Panthers rookie progress report: Week 7 edition

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How have the Panthers rookies fared through six games?

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

In this segment we’ll take a look at the progress and projections of each of the Carolina Panthers 2019 draft picks. Six weeks from now we’ll revisit this report and see just how each rookie stacks up against their pace from the first third of the season. Hopefully, we see some exponential returns as the game slows down for these first year Panthers.

Brian Burns, LB/DE (Round 1, Pick 16 overall)

Through six games

  • 4.5 sacks
  • 11 quarterback hits
  • 3 tackles for loss
  • 1 forced fumble

Full season pace

  • 12 sacks
  • 29 quarterback hits
  • 8 tackles for loss
  • 3 forced fumbles

Brian Burns has been everything the Panthers could have asked for with the No. 16 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and much more. In 2018, the Panthers struggled all year rushing the passer. They finished the season with 35 sacks, which in turn resulted in an overhaul in, not only just the front four, but the entire defensive scheme and play calling.

Beefing up the pass rush was a priority for Marty Hurney in the off season, and the results have paid major dividends. With 27 sacks through six games, Carolina is on pace for 72 sacks. Which would almost double their production from 2018. Brian Burns has played an enormous part in that production, proving to be a terror for opposing quarterbacks from day one.

It’s early, but the Panthers should be giddy when it comes to Burns’ production. I compared him to Von Miller in my pre-draft breakdown, and not much has changed since then. His bend and athleticism is hard to come by at his size. As he gains strength under an NFL training program, he should only continue to get better. Burns is a legitimate candidate for the coveted DROY award.

Outlook: We finally get our Von Miller Experience consolation prize.

Greg Little, OT (Round 2, Pick 37 overall*)

*Carolina traded pick Nos. 47 and 77 to Seattle for pick No. 37

Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten to see much of the Panthers second round pick. Greg Little began the season in concussion protocol, before making his debut in Arizona in week four. The rookie played well enough to earn a start the following week in Houston, where he held up against a strong front four including JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

Little returned to concussion protocol following the win in Houston, and hasn’t seen action since. The good news is that the team felt comfortable enough to fly him over the pond to London, meaning he should be close to a return. Anticipating Little’s return (along with all-pro guard Trai Turner’s) gives the Panthers great hopes for what their offensive line can be this season. Especially considering how they’ve performed among the absence of two starters.

Outlook: Hopefully not another Michael Oher situation. Little looks to be special when healthy.

Will Grier, QB (Round 3, Pick 100 overall)

This was one of the Panthers more questionable decisions in the draft. Will Grier hasn’t seen any action to this point, but has suited up as a backup to Kyle Allen in each of the last four games. Grier struggled in the preseason, but also showed sparks of potential. Coaches have discussed Grier as a work in progress, either meaning his drafting was a complete mistake or that he shows some promise to be competent someday. We won’t know until we see him take the field. Hopefully that won’t be any time soon.

Outlook: N/A

Christian Miller, LB/DE (Round 4, Pick 115 overall)

Through six games

  • 2 sacks
  • 2 tackles for loss
  • 2 quarterback hits

Full season pace

  • 5 sacks
  • 5 tackles for loss
  • 5 quarterback hits

As you can see, Christian Miller has played well in limited snaps. He had both of his career sacks week four in Arizona. Miller was ruled out with an ankle injury after making the trip to London for week six. Everyone on this defensive line has been feasting to this point. I’m certain we will see more of the fourth round pick as the season moves along.

Outlook: Extremely solid rotational depth on the edge.

Jordan Scarlett, RB (Round 5, Pick 154 overall)

  • 4 games active, 0 carries

Scarlett (aka “Mini Beast Mode”) hasn’t seen an offensive snap this season. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans familiar with this team and it’s tendency to keep Christian McCaffrey on the field at all times. He currently sits behind Reggie Bonnafon on the running back depth chart. Scarlett has seen snaps on special teams, however. He recovered a muffed punt on Sunday in London which helped set up a Panthers touchdown.

Outlook: If anyone but CMC see’s snaps, it’ll be Bonnafon. Scarlett is a project running back who will contribute on special teams in the meantime.

Dennis Daley, OT (Round 6, Pick 212 overall*)

*Carolina traded pick No. 187 to Denver for pick Nos. 212 and 237.

  • 5 games active, two starts

As a sixth round pick, you are barely expected to make the 53 man roster. Dennis Daley did, and received high praise from Ron Rivera in the process. When second round pick Greg Little re-entered the concussion protocol, Daley was called on to make his first NFL start.

His first NFL start just happened to be against a Jacksonville pass rush that included Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, and Josh Allen, to name a few. The rookie was tossed in a flaming pit of lava, but boy did he respond.

Daley has been excellent in relief of Greg Little, and most importantly, has kept Daryl Williams from returning to left tackle. This Panthers offensive line finally seems to be onto something, and Daley’s play has proven to be a massive part of their success.

Outlook: The Panthers may have found a real diamond in the rough here.

Terry Godwin, WR (Round 7, Pick 237 overall*)

*Carolina traded pick No. 187 to Denver for pick Nos. 212 and 237)

  • Did not make the 53 man roster

Godwin is currently on the Jacksonville practice squad. The Panthers were in need of a punt returner this week, and chose not to reclaim him.

Outlook: Practice squad guy.