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Panthers 2022 season opener countdown: 78 days to go

We’re counting down the days until the Panthers kick off the 2022 NFL season.

NFL: Carolina Panthers Minicamp Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

We’re 78 days from the Panthers 2022 regular season opener, so today’s countdown is devoted to No. 78 on the roster — defensive tackle Marquan McCall.

Marquan McCall was one of several undrafted free agent signees following the 2022 NFL Draft. Here’s a brief summary of McCall’s college career from the team’s official website:

Played four seasons at Kentucky (2018-21)...Saw action in 40 games with 11 starts...Totaled 57 tackles and 10 tackles for loss with 1.5 sacks...Had eight starts in senior season with 3.5 tackles for loss.

And here is a brief evaluation of McCall from NFL.com’s Lance Zierlien:

Heavy nose tackle who is more space-eater than dominant player in the middle of the defense. McCall’s size and strength are positive factors in challenging single blocks and double teams but he doesn’t play with enough leverage, body control or hand command to require game planning by the offense. He doesn’t help as a pass rusher and has limited range as a run defender, so sticking with a team as a rotational nose could be challenging.

Lance has McCall at a 5.66 on his prospect grade, which translates to “candidate for bottom of roster or practice squad”, which doesn’t translate to him necessarily being here come week one. However, there is a place for someone like him on this roster. The Panthers defense showed athleticism and speed in 2021, and they could shut down offenses at times with that talent. However, teams who really committed to running the football generally saw success in both moving the football and scoring.

McCall seems to fit into a role as a rotational nose tackle in the NFL, given proper coaching and development as a player. The Panthers current two starters are Derrick Brown, a guy who was drafted highly for his skills at being disruptive on the interior, and Matt Ioannidis, who made his money with production as a pass rusher. Beyond that there’s Daviyon Nixon as more of a pass rusher and Brayvion Roy, who has shown improvement since being drafted in 2020. The rotation could possibly use a specialist as a nose tackle for early down plays as a space eater. “Just be fat”, as my old high school coach used to say. McCall certainly fits that bill as the heaviest defensive tackle currently on the roster at 345 pounds.

What are you expecting from McCall? Share your thoughts in the comments!