10 Defensive Players on Bubble to Make/Miss Panthers Roster

These players are riding the line to make or miss the Carolina Panthers' 53-man roster. How likely is each to earn a spot?
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Training camp is set to begin for the Carolina Panthers in just a little over one week in Spartanburg, SC. With training camp comes position battles and several guys fighting for a roster spot. Which guys are on the bubble for making the roster? Today, we look at ten of them on the defensive side of the ball and predict whether or not they will be on the roster for Week 1.

DT Phil Hoskins

Drafting Hoskins in the 7th round was solely to continue establishing depth along the defensive line. He doesn't offer much versatility which will hurt him in an attempt to see the field. With Bravvion Roy, Derrick Brown, DaQuan Jones, and Daviyon Nixon all expected to be ahead of him on the depth chart, Hoskins has a lot of work to do. As a senior in 2020, Hoskins finished the season with 30 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, and one interception.

Makes the roster? No.

DT Caraun Reid

Reid was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft and totaled 31 tackles, seven tackles for loss, five QB hits, and two sacks during his two seasons with the team. Since, Reid has spent time with the Chargers, Cowboys, Cardinals, Jaguars, Colts, and Washington. Although he has experience under his belt, he has never had a big role and has served as a depth player. Aside from the 2014 season where he appeared in 51% of defensive snaps, Reid's next highest percentage of defensive snaps in a season is 18%.

Makes the roster? No.

DE Marquis Haynes

Haynes is a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker that has the ability to rush the passer off the edge. With the addition of Haason Reddick, I would expect that Haynes will see a dip in terms of the number of snaps he sees but he will be in the rotation. Last year was without a doubt the best of Haynes' short three-year career. He notched four sacks, recorded five QB hits, and recovered two fumbles to go along with 18 tackles. If he has a good showing in training camp, I don't see how the Panthers can leave him off the 53-man roster, especially after what he showed in flashes last season.

Makes the roster? Yes.

DE Austin Larkin

Larkin was a late addition to the Panthers' defense but he did appear in nine games and held his own. Last year was a good opportunity for him to showcase what he can do and prove that he deserves a chance on an NFL roster. Unfortunately, I just don't see there being any room for Larkin to make the Panthers' 53-man squad in 2021. 

Makes the roster? No. 

LB Paddy Fisher

The Panthers signed Paddy Fisher as an undrafted free agent following the 2021 NFL Draft. All this dude does is make tackles. During the first two years of his collegiate career, Fisher registered 227 tackles. He left Northwestern with a total of 401 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, 10 forced fumbles, four interceptions, and two sacks. Fisher is a very active linebacker that can make plays all over the field in both the pass and run game. He may be an undrafted free agent but I'm expecting him to make the 53-man cut out of training camp. 

Makes the roster? Yes.

LB Julian Stanford

The 6'1", 230-pound linebacker made 10 tackles in 2020 and saw 261 snaps on special teams compared to just 16 defensive snaps.

Some special team players are often taken for granted, but not Julian Stanford. This is a guy that knows his role and doesn't try to do anything that he can't do. He can plug in at linebacker as needed, but he has made his living on the special teams units of the Jaguars, Lions, Jets, Bills, and now, Panthers.

Makes the roster? Yes. 

CB Stanley Thomas-Oliver III

Thomas-Oliver III is still fairly young in terms of playing the corner position. He began his collegiate career at Florida International as a receiver before making the switch to corner. He is essentially playing catch up in his development which doesn't bode well for his chances of making the roster. Especially now that the cornerback room is full of talent such as Donte Jackson, Jaycee Horn, A.J. Bouye, and Rashaan Melvin.

Makes the roster? No. 

DB Lano Hill

Hill was drafted in the 3rd round by the Seattle Seahawks back in 2017 out of Michigan and played a limited role on the Seattle defense over the last four years. He spent the majority of his reps on special teams but with the lack of depth that Carolina has at safety, he will have every opportunity to earn a solidified role on Phil Snow's defense.

Makes the roster? Yes.

S Sean Chandler

Chandler has played 32 games in his short three-year career (all with Giants), playing a large percentage of those snaps on special teams. The most defensive snaps he played in a single season was 141, which was back in his rookie campaign in 2018. He finished the season with 18 tackles, two QB hits, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery, and one pass breakup. He's a quality special teams player and will likely serve in a similar role with the Carolina Panthers if he were to make the cut.

Chandler is a familiar face to this coaching staff as head coach Matt Rhule had him during his days at Temple from 2014-16 and was an integral part of two 10-win teams. He finished his collegiate career with 265 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, 10 interceptions, and 23 pass breakups. 

Makes the roster? No. 

S Kenny Robinson

Robinson had very little impact as a rookie with the Panthers after he had a strong showing in the XFL the year prior. He appeared mainly on special teams and saw just six snaps on the defensive side of the ball. With a full, regular offseason under his belt, Robinson should contend for more playing time in 2021. He's got great hands and likes to make aggressive plays on the ball in the air. He shined in his two years at West Virginia and if he can produce like he did there and the XFL, the Panthers may have their answer in the back end to pair with Jeremy Chinn.

Makes the roster? Yes.

BONUS: LB/DE Christian Miller

Miller was the only Panther to opt-out of the 2020 season due to concerns of the pandemic and now, he returns to the team in hopes of regaining a spot on the active roster. I don't believe the Panthers will penalize Miller for sitting out a year but taking a year off is going to take Miller some time to get back into playing shape even if he has been working out the past year. I wouldn't be surprised to see him dress at some point this season but not out of the gate.

Makes the roster? Yes.

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