Throughout the month of July, the Last Word on Sports NFL department has been taking a look at the three most recognizable faces for each NFL team. For this series in particular, we will be only considering active players. Today, we will be taking a look at one of the most polarizing and mysterious teams in the NFL: the 2019 Carolina Panthers. So without further ado, let’s jump into the action!
Faces of the 2019 Carolina Panthers
Since being drafted by the team in 2011, Cam Newton has quickly become the most polarizing player on the Panthers roster. The veteran quarterback has won the rookie of the year award, set numerous records, and even won an MVP award. But, through all the success, he has had some bleak moments while sporting a Panthers uniform. After losing Super Bowl 50, Newton was poised to make another run at the Lombardi Trophy the next season, but things never materialized. After having yet another shoulder surgery performed on him, Newton looks to make a powerful comeback in 2019.
The Panthers worked hard in the off-season to find Newton stable wide receivers to pair with the young duo of Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore. The team brought in veteran pass-catchers like Aldrick Robinson and Chris Hogan to help solidify an already-deep receiving corps. The Panthers also prioritized protecting Newton, something they failed to do well in 2018. One of the biggest acquisitions of free agency for the Panthers was veteran center Matt Paradis. The 29-year-old will provide Cam with quality protection while also being a leader in the locker room.
Heading into the 2019 season, Newton has all the weapons around him necessary to make a run at the title. If he can stay healthy, Newton can propel himself back to becoming the MVP candidate he was just a few seasons ago. In addition to leading the team on the field, Newton provides the Panthers with a veteran presence in a youth-filled locker room.
All in all, the Panthers should expect fan favorite Cam Newton to solidify himself as the face of the franchise yet again next season. With a roster full of promise and experience, the sky is the limit for Newton and the Panthers in 2019.
For the past several seasons, veteran Luke Kuechly has solidified himself as one of the best linebackers in the NFL. The six-time Pro Bowler has been an integral part of the Panthers defensive unit since he entered the league. With the Panthers using a new style of defense in 2019, Kuechly will need to be one of the leaders in the locker room. The Panthers will be likely leaning on Kuechly to help teach the new scheme to the young linebacking core.
In a room full of young, hungry linebackers, such as rookie Christian Miller, Kuechly will need to become a solid leader. If he can keep this group of young linebackers in order, he will be viewed as a great leader. With all the talent and ability these young linebackers possess, the team has a great future at the position.
After completing one of the best seasons in running back history, 23-year-old Christian McCaffrey put the league on notice. McCaffrey has solidified himself as one of the best running backs in the game, with some analysts even calling him the best in the entire NFL. McCaffrey has even been predicted to join the 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving cards club in 2019.
After seeing what McCaffrey was able to accomplish last season, the Panthers will be looking to cut down his workload. This choice will help save McCaffrey as the Panthers look to use him plenty during a potential playoff run. The organization has attempted to solve the situation by bringing in two rookie running backs to fill the spot. Undrafted free agent Elijah Holyfield and Florida product Jordan Scarlett have quickly become polarizing prospects, with the pair expected to take the RB2 and RB3 spots on the roster. The Panthers will be looking for McCaffrey to become a vocal leader inside of the Panthers’ youth-filled running backs’ room.
The Panthers have surrounded their star running back with many weapons, taking some pressure off his shoulders. With this group of young running backs behind McCaffrey, the squad could become one of the league’s premier rushing units.