After being thrown into the fire and working through the rookie growing pains, cornerbacks James Bradberry and Daryl Worley ended the 2016 season on a high note, giving the Panthers confidence in their ability to stabilize the position going forward. The team was ecstatic to bring back fiery veteran Captain Munnerlyn, who is viewed as the perfect nickel for Carolina's defense.
1. How big a step will Bradberry and Worley take in Year Two?
The Panthers' front seven is unquestionably talented and deep. It's the second-year corners that can make this defense one of the top units in the league. Bradberry and Worley are expected to make a sizable jump entering Year Two, and they've got the physical tools to flourish with some experience under their belts. Their development is essential in combating the high-powered NFC South passing attacks.
2. What kind of impact will Munnerlyn make?
Captain's veteran presence and leadership has already been a huge help to Carolina's young secondary during offseason workouts. And his playmaking ability at the nickel spot is something the Panthers have missed since he left for Minnesota three years ago. He could very well be the missing piece of the puzzle to get this defense back where it needs to be.
3. Who will provide the depth behind the starters?
As mentioned above, there are reasons to be confident about the trio of Bradberry, Worley and Munnerlyn. But if injuries were to strike, what about the guys behind them? There isn't much proven depth to speak of. Teddy Williams and Zack Sanchez are the only ones with any NFL game experience, and that experience is very limited. Corn Elder, like Sanchez the year before, was drafted in the fifth round. We'll see if he can prove to the coaches that he can be counted on in a reserve role.