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Godfrey adds to cornerback competition

Posted May 15, 2014

With Charles Godfrey moving to cornerback, do you think he will be a starter? - Kris in the United Kingdom

General manager Dave Gettleman announced after the draft that Godfrey, a safety his first six NFL seasons, had been moved to cornerback. The move makes a lot of sense, both because of Godfrey's skill set and how the roster is built. Safety now features a pair of former Pro Bowlers in Roman Harper and Thomas DeCoud in addition to a strong second-year prospect in Robert Lester and 2014 fourth-round draft pick Tre Boston.

Will Godfrey, who started at cornerback 25 times in college, start there for the Panthers? It's simply too early to say with all the options the Panthers have, but he definitely could be in the mix if he can return to full health following an Achilles injury suffered in Week 2 last year.

Melvin White and Captain Munnerlyn were the Panthers' starting cornerbacks for the last 10 games last season. With Munnerlyn gone to Minnesota, White has to be an odds-on favorite to start. Josh Thomas began last season as a starter, but after White made his debut in Week 8, Thomas' only start was as a third cornerback. Josh Norman and James Dockery also return. Norman is a physically talented corner who has struggled with the nuances of the position at times, while Dockery is somewhat of a forgotten man coming off an injury plagued season but shouldn't be discounted.

The player to watch is veteran Antoine Cason, a productive full-time starter from 2010-12 with the San Diego Chargers before playing a reserve role for the Arizona Cardinals last season. White and Cason have to be considered the early favorites to start, but Godfrey, Thomas and rookie Bene' Bewikere are nickel candidates at the very least. Plus, the Panthers aren't afraid to switch things up in the secondary. Carolina had four different starting corners and four different starting safeties in 2013 while ranking sixth in the NFL in pass defense.

I'm really looking forward to seeing Cam Newton and Kelvin Benjamin together. I think Cam's accuracy will be improved by his offseason ankle injury, and that along with Kelvin's catch radius could mean great things in the passing game. Your thoughts? – Kurt in Charlotte

I think you're right on target with your assessments, just like the Panthers hope Newton and Benjamin will be. Gettleman said Benjamin should be a red-zone threat from Day One, and I think he'll be deep threat almost immediately as well not because of his speed but because of his size. Benjamin is big enough that defenses might have to fade a safety to his side to help with jump balls.

Naturally, there are questions about how Newton's new group of receivers will perform, but I'm excited about the possibilities. Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant are as reliable as they come, and Tiquan Underwood is a deep threat because of his speed. Plus, all three are ready, willing and able to help Benjamin, Marvin McNutt and Tavarres King improve. It's an underrated group.

How do you think a burner like Carrington Byndom can help the Panthers secondary out? – Ariel in Coppell, Texas

Much like size, you can't teach speed, and Byndom has it. He reportedly ran a sub-4.4 at Texas' pro day, one of the reasons many expected the cornerback to be drafted. At 6-0, 180 pounds, he's considered undersized and isn't as known for his play against the run as he is as a pass defender, but he's certainly worth a look.

At first glance (we should find out more at this weekend's rookie minicamp), the undrafted free agent I'm most intrigued by is Denicos Allen. I wouldn't have been surprised if the Panthers had drafted a linebacker for depth reasons, but they got a draft-worthy one without investing a pick. Allen, who led Michigan State in tackles this past season, is a savvy football player with special teams ability.

Bryan, I'm loving the value we got in the draft and via the undrafted free agents, but I am still questioning our offensive tackle options. Do you see Gettleman bringing in a veteran after June 1 cuts or are we rolling with who we have? – Greg in Tega Cay, S.C.

First off, June 1 isn't the significant date it once was on the NFL calendar. Whereas teams used to release players after June 1 because it allowed them to spread out the hit to their salary cap, teams are now allowed to release two players prior to June 1 and designate them as June 1 cuts. DeCoud, for example, was released by the Atlanta Falcons on March 11 but given a June 1 designation.

As for the plan at tackle, I understand your apprehension but believe the position is in better shape than some realize. I posted my two cents on the situation earlier this week on Panthers.com.
Panthers.com senior writer Bryan Strickland answers your questions. Fill out the form below to send it to him. The answer to your question could be posted on Panthers.com.
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