I totally neglected the 3rd string guys when talking secondary, and
wanted to rectify that. Dealing with the starters and the nickel
combatants is crucial, but it's not the full picture.
Colin Jones, for instance, is a critical special teamer that plays in
essentially all phases. A missile that runs a sub-4.4 40, Jones is the
gunner on punt team and is essentially a lock to make the team. Last
preseasaon, Jones started showing more aptitude for free safety, and had
two picks in a game. It's clear they're continuing to develop that
side, and while they have Tre' Boston, the team's 4th rounder, Jones
will have plenty of looks in preseason as well.
Boston is a vocal FS with good athleticism and length, and while he's
studious, he has to be careful of not freelancing himself. His
outspoken personality is one that has to shine through at the right time
- it's the difference between being a respected competitor and being a
Behind all that, Anderson Russell is a guy who's spent since the back
quarter of 2012 with the team, and had some good special teams hits when
playing in preseason last year.
As well, I neglected James Dockery at CB. With the top 3 outside
players and two nickel players possible at CB, Dockery seems the first
man outside the bubble, but he's hung around for years now and is always
in the mix. He has good length and ball skills, and is another player
in the mix at the outside CB spots. I don't know if Bene Benwikere or
the possibly still ailing Charles Godfrey will play much outside in
preseason, so there might be a lot of room to make impact out there for
There aren't likely to be any UDFA surprises compared to last year, when
the spotlight was on Melvin White and Robert Lester almost directly
after signing. Carrington Bynum of Texas is the only other rookie.
Of the street guys, De'Quan Menzie has slot experience at CB. A 5th
rounder in '12 by KC, he was a two year Alabama star after JuCo, and got
hurt early in the process there.
Carolina's only carrying the six safeties - the three mentioned above,
likely starters Decoud and Harper, and likely first off the bench guy
Robert Lester. They hold nine corners.
Five safeties are a lock for the roster, assuming everyone is healthy;
it could be up to five corners, too. But the lynchpin of the corner
conversation is on Godfrey's health; if he starts the season on PUP, it
won't look as good for him and Benwikere gets a 6-9 week trial as the
slot by default.
The rest is on whether Norman can play within the system, or if Dockery
climbs the ladder over him.