Football season is thankfully right around the corner with a buzz back in the Carolinas about this season; despite some crushing injuries has me very excited to see what this team can do in 2015. In honor of the start of the season, here are my top 10 Panthers right now! Do you agree?
1. Luke Kuechly
This is a pretty easy choice for me because in four years in the league, he has become the best middle linebacker in the NFL! We drafted him ninth overall out of Boston College in 2012; I didn’t know much about them, but what I’ve learned is he is a tackling machine and an animal on the football field! In his short career, he has already won the defensive rookie of the year and the NFL defensive player of the year award also he led the league in tackles last season with 153! In total he already has 453 tackles and seven interceptions, which leads the team. He is the leader of this defense flying around the football field every down.
He is in opposing coaches and quarterbacks nightmares because he has a nonstop motor and will do anything to help this team win. The newly elected Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian said, “He is the Peyton Manning of defenses” that just shows you how much respect and admiration people outside of the Panthers organization show to him. Not only is he amazing on the football field, he is one of the most personable guys you will ever listen to and has a great head on his shoulders that is kind of hard to find in the NFL today. He is the total package on the field and off the field. I am so glad the Panthers drafted him because our defense would definitely not be where it is without him that is why he tops my list!
2. Cam Newton
Newton has been a spark plug for this offense since being drafted first overall in 2011. Announcing his presence quickly winning the offensive rookie of the year in 2012 showing the Panthers made the right choice. He has offered great stability and playmaking ability while putting up video game type numbers and making defenders look silly; in his career he has 14,426 passing yards and 82 touchdowns. He also is a threat with his legs with 2,571 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns, amazing that one human being can affect a game in so many ways. Let’s just say I am happy he is in Carolina blue for many years to come.
He also is a great leader and my favorite part about him is that he is one of the most passionate and intense quarterbacks that I’ve ever watched play. People don’t like when he pouts when things aren’t going well, but that just means he cares so much and wants to win every play and every game. I respect that greatly and don’t care what the haters say they’re just upset he is not on their team. Superman is going to be better than ever in 2015 and I can’t wait to watch him shred defenses. He is the most important part of our offense, when he goes we go!
3. Thomas Davis
Thomas Davis is entering his 11th season with the Carolina Panthers and he has been a great leader and even better player! He is one of the best linebackers in the NFL today and an inspiration for every football player that goes through any adversity Davis has torn his ACL three times and come back better than ever each and every time. Here’s what I mean last season he had 100 tackles and two forced fumbles and in his career, he has 730 tackles 13 forced fumbles and six interceptions! Amazing what he’s been able to do on the football field and now with Luke Kuechly the Carolina Panthers have the best linebacker duo in the NFL and I don’t think it’s close. He is definitely the veteran leader that helped lead this defense for years and I’m glad he will be in Carolina blue for the remainder of his career!
What he has done on the football field speaks for is great, but what he does for the fans and the community is even better! He helps the Carolinas thrive with he and his family’s charitable organizations, that allows families and children to have a place to learn and develop a bright future for them. He is so kind with his time and wants to see kids succeed; he will do anything to help foster that. For that he was awarded the 2015 Man of the year award and it couldn’t have happened to a better person.
4. Kelvin Benjamin
The Carolina Panthers found themselves a star in Kelvin Benjamin drafting him 28th overall in the 2014 draft. We took him 28th overall I think he has already become a steal for the Panthers and Dave Gettleman who is a great evaluator of talent. He took the NFL by storm, becoming quarterback Cam Newton’s favorite target right away and for good reason; setting Panther rookie records for receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns with 79 catches 1008 yards and nine touchdowns.
Unfortunately, Benjamin suffered a torn ACL in camp while this is a huge blow for the Panthers in the immediate future, I believe Benjamin will come back better than ever! He has so much talent and skill he won’t be down for long. We will have the pleasure of hearing Newton to Benjamin for the touchdown for many years to come I’m very excited about that! He may not be able to play this year, but he has the opportunity to develop into a great leader and help this team any way he can while getting healthy. He may be young, but he is going to be a stud in this league that is why he is number four on my list!
5. Greg Olsen
Greg Olsen is entering his fifth season with the Carolina Panthers and become the most underrated tight end in the league in my opinion. He has no doubt become old reliable for quarterback Cam Newton to play breaks down or he just needs to find his rhythm. Olsen is coming off his best year as a pro with 84 receptions for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns that productivity resulted in his first Pro bowl selection. In 2015 I predict much of the same, especially with the loss of Kelvin Benjamin and the sudden inexperience at the wide receiver position. Thank you Chicago Bears for giving us one of the best tight ends in football much appreciated! He will also provide great veteran leadership for the young guys and help them develop and learn on the job.
Stewart is entering his eighth season with the Panthers; first as the feature back as Deangelo Williams is now with the Steelers. Stewart is a bruiser when running the ball, he just keeps those legs going to fight for every inch. He also is a great pass catcher on screen passes or if the play breaks down. He has great ability to take those short passes and turn them into big gainers. A great compliment to Newton, who is also a dual threat this combination could be very effective this season. Last season was a decent year he rushed for 809 yards and three touchdowns he also caught a touchdown as well. This season just feels like a breakout year for Stewart being the lead dog taking command of the running game in 2015 leading this young group to the promised land.
He has had a solid career thus far averaging 4.6 yards per rush and 30 total touchdowns. He is a guy that floats under the radar, but this year he has a great opportunity to take the NFL by storm and become one of the top running backs in 2015! I’m excited to see how he takes to this new role because the Panthers success is predicated on good defense and a solid running game if we have both of those this season we are going to be tough to beat!
7. Mike Tolbert
Mike Tolbert is entering his fourth season with the Carolina Panthers he is not your average fullback catching passes out of the backfield running on short yardage situations and being the lead blocker in the running game. At 5’9 250 pounds Tolbert is like tackling a tree and is a matchup nightmare for defenses in many different ways. Last season was cut short due to injury and the running game suffered mightily after that, but back in fully healthy “Tub of Goo” is back and ready to dominate. He has had a very underrated career with 533 rushing attempts for 2,032 yards and 32 touchdowns pretty good for a fullback! I hope to see more of those great dance moves in 2015 that means we are scoring a lot of points!
8. Charles Johnson
Charles Johnson is entering his ninth season with the Carolina Panthers he is one of the most important pieces to our defense wreaking havoc in the opponents back fields becoming a pain in the neck for opposing quarterbacks. Last season was a solid year, despite nagging injuries he had 41 tackles, three forced fumbles and 8 1/2 sacks. He has had a great career as well with 267 total tackles, 16 forced fumbles, and 62 1/2 sacks. He is the key for our pass rush and helping out the secondary which has been suspect in past years however it has gotten better! Although, this defense has many good players Johnson is a person that we can ill afford to lose with depth being an issue and Kony Ealy being a young guy.
As long as Johnson can stay relatively healthy, he will have a great year for this vaunted Carolina defense. He honestly could be higher on this list, but we have so many quality players it’s hard to separate them, but he is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL for a third round pick, he has definitely become a steal for the Carolina Panthers!
9. Ryan Kalil
Ryan Kalil is entering his tenth year with the Panthers it was important for me to put him on this list because he has been the glue to our offensive line in protecting the quarterback and creating a rhythm for the offense game after game.He is also very durable in five of his nine seasons, he has started all 16 games and in his career, he has started 103 games, giving an offensive line that has been a revolving door over the past few years great stability. He is a great veteran for all of our young players to learn from! This team has veteran sprinkled throughout the roster that can help the young guys no matter what position they play!
10. Josh Norman
Josh Norman is entering his fifth season with the Carolina Panthers and he has become one of the best shutdown corners in the NFL! He was drafted in the fifth round out of Coastal Carolina; I think he is upset that he was overlooked for that long because he plays with a chip on his shoulder every game. He has become our mini Steve Smith because of the fire, he plays with on every play and he will take no crap from any wide receiver he goes against!
Last season was a solid one for Norman with 48 tackles one forced fumble and one interception. he looks to build on that solid season paired with the veterans we added this off-season Kurt Coleman, Charles Tillman and Roman Harper are secondary looks like it’s going to be a strength being led by Josh Norman in 2015! if I had to rank Josh Norman at 10 you know we have great players on our team and I’m excited to see what we will be able to do!
This was a really tough list for me to put together, but this just shows you the quality talent the Carolina Panthers have been able to draft and acquire throughout the years! Not only do we have great players, but we have great people that care about his fan base and community and the way the NFL is today that is a great aspect of this team! Hope you enjoy Go Panthers!