Today we begin a new series called "3 questions," which will detail some of the concerns that Panthers fans likely have heading into the 2020 season at each position. To start things off, we are going to talk about the three biggest question marks surrounding the entire defensive unit.
Is Eli Apple good enough to be a No. 2 corner?
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said that he believes Eli Apple's best football is still ahead of him. To this point, Apple has been a corner that teams have picked on and could honestly be a risky move by the Panthers organization. Donte Jackson is going to be the Panthers No. 1 guy at corner and will likely go up against the opponent's best receivers, but can Apple handle starting opposite of him? If he continues to be a liability, Carolina will have to get creative with their secondary alignments. Personally, I believe Carolina still needs to add another corner to solidify depth and Apple needs someone to compete with for the job.
Will Derrick Brown be Rookie of the Year caliber?
Many draft experts pegged Derrick Brown to the Panthers since the draft order was finalized and they got it right. Many of those same experts believe that not only is he the best defensive player in the draft, but could end up being the best player coming out of this draft class. The Panthers desperately needed help on the interior of the defensive line and Brown should be able to come in right away and make a marginal impact. By the end of the season, he will be in the conversation for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but others like Chase Young and Isaiah Simmons will likely win it due to having the numbers. Brown's impact won't be shown on the stat sheet as much as the others.
Will Brian Burns have a breakout season?
After a rollercoaster rookie season, the Panthers are hopeful that Brian Burns will become the elite pass rusher that they believe they got in the 2019 draft. I see Phil Snow's defense being a perfect fit for Burns. He won't be lining up in the same spot of the field and the multiple defensive looks will be a nice disguise for a pass rusher to make his living in the backfield. Registering double-digit sacks shouldn't be out of the question for him, especially since he notched 7.5 in his rookie season.
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