Five Bold Predictions for the Carolina Panthers

Steve Seufert | May 22nd, 2020

The Carolina Panthers are going to be a fun team to watch moving forward. They took the risky route and hired Baylor head coach Matt Rhule away from the collegiate scene. One that he is most familiar with, Rhule doubled that down by hiring a 31-year-old coordinator to manage the offense. Let’s not forget they almost immediately signed Teddy Bridgewater to a $63 million dollar deal to become the starting quarterback of an NFL franchise. That is something he hasn’t done since 2015 when he suffered a gruesome knee injury while playing for the Minnesota Vikings. Needless to say, this will be fun.

Make sure to check out all of our other team bold predictions here.

Curtis Samuel emerges as a complete weapon for Joe Brady and Teddy Bridgewater

Samuel was the topic of many trade rumors during this offseason and I think they kept him for good reason. The former Ohio State Buckeye is entering year four which is a huge contract year after being drafted 40th overall in 2017. He finally had his first healthy season in 2019 and posted a healthy 54/627/6 slash line, with two rookies in Kyle Allen and Will Grier at quarterback. Don’t forget he added over 100 yards rushing that I would expect Brady to further use in his balanced offensive attack.

The Brady addition is crucial for Samuel and the other receivers. He exploits soft zone defenses by asking his quarterback to get the ball out quickly to his receivers. They’ve added Robby Anderson to stretch the field vertically, leaving more room for D.J. Moore and Samuel to stretch the field horizontally. If you combine the natural ability with innovative offensive coaching and the contract motivation, I don’t think 1,000 total yards is out of the realm of possibility for Samuel.

Joe Brady wins assistant coach of the year

Fun fact, Brady is younger than former Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton. I’m extremely high on Brady and I believe he’s the next coaching prodigy. Rhule was smart in bringing him to the NFL before someone else did. Another fun fact, Brady’s first coaching job was at his Alma mater, William & Mary. Why is that a fun fact? Because he was a linebackers coach, further proving he has an all-around understanding of the game.

When you check out LSU offensive numbers under Steve Ensminger and Brady, you would think they run a pass-heavy attack. However, they were pretty balanced running the ball 45-percent of the time. He spent time at Penn State working under RPO guru Joe Moorhead and I love how he uses basic RPO concepts to set up the running game. I’d look for Christian McCaffrey to get even more carries under Brady, riding McCaffrey and company to an assistant coach of the year award in year one.

UDFA Rodney Smith wins the backup role to Christian McCaffrey

Without mini-camp, Smith hasn’t had his chance to shine but his time is coming. The sixth-year senior, who received two redshirts, was eager to get his name called during the NFL draft. That didn’t happen and part of the reason had to do with his age. He had 879 carries at Minnesota and is already entering his age 24 season as an undrafted rookie. Luckily for Smith, if he does prove worthy of a roster spot, he won’t have to carry the load. He will have an opportunity to run sparingly behind the best running back in the entire league.

As for his overall game, I think he has very good contact balance both at the line-of-scrimmage and at the second level. He’s difficult to tackle and you need multiple hats to do so. Smith doesn’t offer much in the way of receiving but he has third-down versatility thanks to his advanced pass protection. Between maturity, toughness, experience, and pass protection, I think Smith can sneak his way onto the roster and have an impact at some point during the season.

Derrick Brown is a defensive rookie of the year candidate with eight total sacks

Eight is a healthy number for an edge rusher, let alone a rookie defensive tackle. The defensive rookie of the year in 2019 had nine and played edge rusher on a team with a boatload of talent. So projecting Brown to finish with eight shows just how high I am on the talent of Brown.

There’s a common misconception surrounding Brown that he is merely just a run-stuffing tackle. That idea comes from his total sack numbers at Auburn where he was asked to do different things and often double-teamed. Although he is a stud run defending defensive tackle, he has an advanced pass-rushing repertoire. His quickness plays faster than his size and timed speed would indicate. He reminds me of a bigger Jonathan Allen, meaning I even think he can play the strong-side defensive end in a 4-3 front. Also, let’s not forget to mention that the defensive guru head coach who surrounded Brown with a bunch of guys to grow with, as he only selected defenders in the most recent draft. I expect Brown to immediately turn heads in year one.

Jeremy Chinn flirts with 100 tackles as a rookie

Let’s make something clear, 100 tackles is an excellent total as a rookie. However, tackle stats can be a noisy statistic as many will come downfield. With that being said, we all know Rhule values athleticism and speed. That’s probably why he drafted Chinn. If Chinn beats out the competition at safety, I would expect him to roam around the field and be set free to make all sorts of tackles. The question will be, are these empty tackles or tackles that have a huge impact? That is to be determined but the opportunity will certainly be there. I think Chinn and his 99.9% athletic profile will be on full display in Rhule’s attacking defense.

Questions and comments?

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