Jeremy Chinn Looks to be the Swiss Army Knife of the Panthers' Defense

Schuyler Callihan

Back in late April, Carolina Panthers GM Marty Hurney made an aggressive move by trading back into the second round to select safety Jeremy Chinn out of Southern Illinois. As Hurney noted back in April, Chinn was someone that the Panthers had their eyes set on for a while.

"He was a guy that we liked since the first time that we put eyes on him and he just impressed us more and more as the process went through," Hurney said. "We had him drafted fairly highly and we just thought that he was too good to take the chance of seeing if he could get through six more picks to get to us. We thought that we had a fair deal for both sides to go up and get him and thought that he was a player that could really help our defense grow. I think when you feel that strongly about a guy, sometimes you just don't want to take the chance to see him get there. I don't think he would've gotten to us in the third round and we started making calls and we got Seattle to make the deal."

For those who are still getting accustomed to the new faces on the Panthers' roster, Chinn is one to keep a close eye on. Albeit just a rookie, Chinn could very well become one of the team's best defensive players thanks to his versatility. 

Standing in at 6'3", 220 lbs, he is viewed as a "tweener," or a hybrid safety/outside linebacker that can be physical in the middle of the field. He played all over the place in college and he is going to likely do the same during his time in Charlotte. 

Wednesday morning, Chinn spoke with the media and talked about what his role will be on the defense, although his position isn't necessarily defined.

"I tell them defensive athlete. Coach Snow has me doing a lot of different things, learning a lot of different positions from the back end all the way to the second level. He's being really creative and I'm just learning," Chinn said. "I'm doing a lot of things that I did in college, but I'm also doing a whole lot more. I played safety in college, I played nickel, I played dime and I'm doing those similar things here. Coach Snow has me doing a lot more inside the box and in the back end as well, so really a lot of things that I did at school, but now more expanded."

To help with the transition to the NFL, Chinn mentioned that he has been able to "see Luke Kuechly every day and pick his brain," which is a type of resource that he didn't have during his time at Southern Illinois. With Tre Boston and Juston Burris having experience in the league, picking Kuechly's brain on playing in the box seems like a really smart idea. Despite being listed as a safety, head coach Matt Rhule gave the indication earlier this offseason that Chinn will be utilized in many different ways and won't be locked in at safety.

"He gives us an opportunity to have somebody that can be versatile, that can play the nickel, that can play the tight ends that we're going to face man to man, could be an excellent run defender as well, so he brings versatility," Rhule said. "Rare height-weight speed. He's also somebody who's been a multi-year captain on the leadership council, so he's someone that is an elite person. You don't find guys that are that big that run that fast and for me, at least, going to the Senior Bowl and seeing him play safety, seeing him play press man against some of the best wideouts in the country, he's kind of a positionless player right now for us." 

Regardless of where Chinn lines up for the Panthers on Sundays, expect him to fly all over the field and make plays. He has a lot of upside and has a knack for hovering around the ball. During his career at Southern Illinois, Chinn totaled 243 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 13 interceptions, 31 pass deflections, six forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.

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Comments (2)
No. 1-1

Makes sense that Hurney had Chinn in mind after passing on Clemson's Isaiah Simmons in round one. Simmons is thought to be one of the most versatile defensive players to enter the NFL. Panthers get an extremely versatile player in Chinn a round later and still secure the DL they wanted all along in Derrick Brown.