Panthers Roster First Look: Defensive Line

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By Sports Radio WFNZ

The Carolina Panthers should be holding rookie minicamps and OTAs right now, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting the sports world down, fans are left speculating on how the Panthers roster will look. 

Even With last month’s draft completed, there’s still the possibility of some late moves before training camp is tentatively scheduled to start. 

WFNZ will take a look at each Carolina position over the next few weeks to see where each group stands. 

DEFENSIVE LINE
Roster: DE: Brian Burns; Stephen Weatherly; Yetur Gross-Matos (Rookie); Zach Kerr; Efe Obada; Chris Smith; Marquis Haynes; DaVonte Lambert; Myles Adams (Rookie). DT: Kawann Short; Derrick Brown (Rookie); Bravvion Roy (DT); Woodrow Hamilton; Austrian Robinson (Rookie) 
Key losses: Mario Addison; Gerald McCoy; Dontari Poe; Vernon Butler 
Notable moves: At defensive end, the Panthers lost Addison in free agency and signed Weatherly to a two-year deal, and Kerr and Smith to one-year deals.

Carolina drafted Gross-Matos in the second round of the NFL Draft. 

At defensive tackle, the Panthers let McCoy, Poe and Butler walk and drafted Brown seventh overall and Roy in the sixth-round. 

Outlook: The Panthers underwent a lot of turnover on a defensive line that drastically underperformed last season, losing every starter off last year’s front three. 

Carolina will transition back to a 4-3 defense after playing 3-4 under former head coach Ron Rivera last year.

The front four is currently expected to be Weatherly and Burns at defensive end and Short and Brown holding down the middle at tackle. 

Short returns after missing 14 games due to a rotator cuff last season and should have more help at tackle with Brown.

Brown was one of the best defensive players in the draft class and has the potential of being a top defensive tackle in the league. 

Burns can rotate between defensive end and linebacker allowing Gross-Matos to get reps and even potentially start.

There is a lot of depth but not much experience to try and fix a defense that gave up a record amount of rushing touchdowns last year. 

Overall expectations: The defensive line has the chance to surprise and is pretty young. Being in a re-build, head coach Matt Rhule will have to be patient but has the tools to create a very good front. 

Carolina went all-in on going young and re-tooling the defense this offseason and Rhule acknowledged that there will be growing pains. 

The offense will be relied on heavily this season, allowing Rhule and Snow to figure out what works and doesn’t work.

It may not be pretty this year, but the future could be bright.