The Panthers are very young on the defensive side of the ball but if there is one area that defensive coordinator Phil Snow has to feel confident in, it's the defensive line. A year ago, Derrick Brown and Yetur Gross-Matos got their feet wet as rookies but now they're ready to take that next step.
In addition to the two youngsters and star pass rusher Brian Burns, Carolina drafted a pair of defensive tackles in this year's draft - Daviyon Nixon (Iowa) in the 5th round and Phil Hoskins (Kentucky) in the 7th. There's no guarantee that Hoskins will see the field in 2021 but Nixon should be able to play his way into a rotational role thanks to his ability to apply pressure from inside.
Prior to the draft, Carolina signed defensive end Morgan Fox, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, and edge rusher Haason Reddick to add a veteran presence along the defensive line. Now that the Panthers have depth and experience up front, they should be a much-improved unit in 2021.
In a recent article by Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus, he ranked the Panthers as having the 17th-best defensive line heading into the 2021 season.
Youth is the theme across Carolina’s defense. The defensive line is no exception, with the Panthers expected to start Brian Burns, Derrick Brown and Yetur Gross-Matos next season. Brown and Gross-Matos still have plenty of room to grow heading into 2021, but Burns already began to show signs of becoming one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers last year. He improved his pass-rushing grade from 68.7 in an injury-plagued rookie season to 86.9 in 2020. The next step will be adding more of a power element to complement his high-end burst and bend.
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