Quarterbacks (3): Cam Newton, Kyle Allen, Will Grier
Last year at this time, Taylor Heinicke won the competition to be Cam Newton's backup. This year, it’s Kyle Allen, while third-round pick Will Grier starts out as third-string. Allen didn’t produce the way he wanted to during the preseason, but coaches and teammates are confident in his ability to execute and lead the offense. Grier knows he needs more seasoning, and he’ll continue the development process throughout 2019.
Running backs (4): Christian McCaffrey, Jordan Scarlett, Reggie Bonnafon, Alex Armah
Jordan Scarlett, the fifth-round draft choice from Florida, overcame a training camp back injury to secure a spot. Former college quarterback/wide receiver Reggie Bonnafon took what he learned on the practice squad last year and took a step forward this summer. Panthers brass took notice, and veteran Cameron Artis-Payne wound up on the outside looking in. Alex Armah could arguably be listed with the tight ends (he practices with them occasionally) but he’ll primarily serve as fullback and short yardage sledgehammer.
Wide receivers (6): Curtis Samuel, DJ Moore, Jarius Wright, Chris Hogan, Ray-Ray McCloud, Brandon Zylstra
What a difference a year makes. Last year, Devin Funchess and Torrey Smith were atop the depth chart. Funchess is now a Colt and Smith has given way to the young guns – Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore. Jarius Wright and Chris Hogan provide some necessary veteran savvy, but it’s clearly time for Samuel and Moore to be the focus.
McCloud and Zylstra were late additions after being waived by Buffalo and Minnesota on cutdown day. It'll be interesting to see how they assimilate and contribute with Week 1 around the corner.
Tight ends (3): Greg Olsen, Ian Thomas, Chris Manhertz
Greg Olsen is healthy and optimistic he’ll produce at the level we’re all accustomed to seeing. Ian Thomas, the fourth-round pick in 2018, will be counted on to take the next step. Chris Manhertz joined the organization as a bit of a project midway through 2016 and he’s continually made strides.
Offensive line (9): Matt Paradis, Trai Turner, Greg Van Roten, Taylor Moton, Daryl Williams, Greg Little, Dennis Daley, Tyler Larsen, Brandon Greene
Greg Van Roten grabbed hold of the starting left guard spot once again and Daryl Williams, who entered the league as a right tackle, has been working at left tackle all summer. The Panthers have big plans for rookies Greg Little and Dennis Daley, but they'll provide depth initially. Tyler Larsen offers valuable depth at guard and center. Former AAF lineman Brandon Greene is a guy the Panthers are high on.
Defensive line (6): Kawann Short, Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, Kyle Love, Vernon Butler, Efe Obada
Beyond the starters, it’s “go-time” for former first-round pick Vernon Butler in a contract year. Efe Obada and Bryan Cox Jr. were battling for the last spot and Obada won out to earn another year on the 53.
EDGE (5): Mario Addison, Bruce Irvin, Brian Burns, Marquis Haynes, Christian Miller
The new 3-4 defense created the opportunity for guys like Brian Burns, Marquis Haynes and Christian Miller to really thrive as pass rushers. Irvin has a lot of experience in this kind of system and the athletic Addison is built to function well in this new role.
Inside linebackers (5): Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, Jermaine Carter, Andre Smith, Jordan Kunaszyk
Defensive backs (9): Eric Reid, Tre Boston, James Bradberry, Donte Jackson, Colin Jones, Rashaan Gaulden, Javien Elliott, Ross Cockrell, Natrell Jamerson
We have a winner in the small nickel competition, and his name is Javien Elliott. Kudos to Ross Cockrell for embracing the opportunity to line up at cornerback and safety. He now provides valuable depth at both spots after missing all of 2018 following that gruesome leg injury.
Cornerback Kevon Seymour made the original 53 but was waived to make room for Natrell Jamerson, an athletic safety who could make an impact on special teams.
Specialists (3): Joey Slye, Michael Palardy, J.J. Jansen
With Graham Gano on season-ending IR, the Panthers turn to undrafted rookie Joey Slye at kicker. It’s the first time since 2012 that Gano hasn’t been Carolina’s kicker on opening day. A huge opportunity for Slye, and a well-deserved one at that.
Breaking Down the Numbers
The Panthers have 14 players from SEC schools, the most well-represented conference, including a team-high three players from LSU (Jackson, Reid, Turner). There are also 10 players from ACC schools.
Five players went to schools in North and South Carolina.
The roster has players from hometowns in 26 different states and one foreign country. Florida is the most common home state.
The average age of the 53-man roster is 26.1.
View all of the headshots of the 53 players on Carolina's roster before Week 1.