Underrated: Kelvin Benjamin
He missed all of last year, so many may have forgotten the rookie season he had in 2014. Yes, he was unpolished, but when that ball was up in the air, he could always go up and get it. Without Benjamin last year, the Panthers lost that crucial red zone target. How many times did you throw your hat down because Ted Ginn dropped a long bomb?
Overrated: Star Lotulelei
The Panthers’ first-round pick in 2013 is a good player, but he gets a lot of credit for being the backbone of their run defense when he hasn’t played nearly as many snaps down in and down out as Kawann Short has. Lotulelei is more of a two-down player who doesn’t give you a whole lot in pass rush. You can connect the dots in terms of how people in the Panthers’ building feel about the situation when you look at how they picked defensive tackle Vernon Butler in the first round of the 2016 draft. They’re not going to be able to pay both Kawann and Star, and I know that if I had to let one of those two go, it would be Star.
There’s a misconception that Cam Newton is a selfish player who just cares about himself. He’s not old-school, but his style of leadership is something that resonates with his teammates. Those guys go to war for him, and we see that week in and week out.