Carolina Panthers Offseason Review Charlotte, North Carolina - The Carolina Panthers are entering the 2016 season looking to improve after an abysmal 2015 season. The Panthers finished in last place in the NFC South division by a mile with a (4-12) record and ended up picking 7th overall in the HaW draft. They will be entering the new season with a revamped roster and hopefully improved play from quarterback Cam Newton. FREE AGENCY Free agency was a big time for the Panthers this offseason. They had a lot of money to spend and there was definitely some talent on the market. They went hard after some players and in the end came away with a decent, not great, crop of players. The key signings were as follows: Name: Shane Vereen Position: Halfback Contract: 4 Years | $13.50M Role: Starting Running Back Key Attributes: 91 Speed | 76 Strength | 93 Agility | 94 Acceleration | 82 Catch | 87 Elusiveness | 93 Ball Carrier Vision Shane Vereen was signed to be brought in and become the starting halfback for the Panthers. Vereen brings both running and catching ability to the table which will be coveted in the Panthers run first offense. He will be paired with Cedric Peerman to bring back the Crash & Bang type duo the Panthers used to possess in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Name: Keith Rivers Position: Middle Linebacker Contract: 2 Years | $4.00M Role: Linebacker Depth | Pass Rusher Key Attributes: 84 Speed | 75 Strength | 83 Agility | 86 Acceleration | 86 Tackle | 88 Hit Power | 90 Pursuit | 86 Play Recognition Keith Rivers is a physically gifted linebacker who could be a starter on some teams and may be moved to the outside linebacker position for the Carolina Panthers. He bring a cheap contract to the table as well which is always valued in depth. Name: Brandon Tate Position: Wide Receiver Contract: 1 Year | $0.85M Role: Slot Receiver Key Attributes: 95 Speed | 66 Strength | 92 Acceleration | 90 Kick Return Brandon Tate is a big bodied fast wide receiver with a penchant for returning kicks. He will immediately challenge for the top kick returner spot for this coming season and should put up some good receiving numbers in the Panthers offense. His hands are suspect to say the least. Name: Brandon Mosley Position: Right Guard Contract: 5 Years | $9M Role: Offensive Line Depth | Future Starter Key Attributes: 66 Speed | 93 Strength | 65 Agility | 79 Acceleration | 78 Awareness | 82 Run Block Brandon Mosley was signed to a low-risk contract with a low bonus. He doesn’t possess the pass blocking skills to be a starter currently but if management works on it he may one day be a starter in front of Cam Newton. He has the athleticism to be a great player in this league. DRAFT The entry draft was very important for the Carolina Panthers this offseason. With a top ten pick in each of the rounds they would need to maximize the talent at those picks in order to have a hope of competing this year. The draft went well for the Panthers according to many analysts. Name: Ellis Maxwell Position: Cornerback Height: 6’2 Weight: 188 lbs. Position Drafted: 1st Round | 9th Pick Role: Nickel Cornerback Development: Slow Key Attributes: 92 Speed | 78 Strength | 93 Agility | 97 Acceleration | 88 Jumping | 88 Man Coverage | 77 Zone Coverage | 85 Press Ellis Maxwell is a stud physically but is lacking in game smarts and play recognition. He fits the Panthers stereotype of a cornerback with a big frame coming in at 6’2 and 188 lbs. He will be played at the #3/#4 cornerback position for at least the first season in Carolina in hopes of getting him some much needed experience at which point the Panthers feel he will be able to develop into one of the top cornerbacks in the league. Name: Doron Crosby Position: Outside Linebacker Height: 6’4 Weight: 248 lbs. Position Drafted: 2nd Round | 7th Pick Role: Starting Outside Linebacker Development: Slow Key Attributes: 90 Speed | 81 Strength | 88 Agility | 91 Acceleration Doron Crosby is a physical specimen at linebacker and should put up monster numbers at the position in the future. He is raw and the slow development trait will be tough to overcome but Panthers’ management has no doubts that he will become a star in the future. Name: Darien Clark Positon: Strong Safety Height: 6’3 Weight: 191 lbs. Position Drafted: 3rd Round | 7th Pick Role: Starting Strong Safety Development: Superstar Key Attributes: 85 Speed | 86 Agility | 92 Acceleration | 88 Jumping | 70 Awareness | 78 Man Coverage | 83 Zone Coverage | 78 Tackle | 79 Hit Power | 74 Catching Darien Clark was a pick of need for the Carolina Panthers. They are currently fielding no decent starting safeties and went for a very big-bodied safety. Clark combines amazing size with very good athleticism and he is already very developed in awareness and coverage attributes. With his superstar development trait he could become a true star. Name: Isreal Tillman Position: Wide Receiver Height: 6’2 Weight: 207 lbs. Position Drafted: 4th Round | 7th Pick Role: Receiving Depth Development: Average Key Attributes: 96 Speed | 60 Strength | 93 Acceleration | 77 Catching Isreal Tillman is a very raw wide receiver but he brings great size and speed to the table. He will likely begin his career as a #3/#4 wide receiver but his combination of speed and Cam Newton’s arm strength could turn him into a viable deep ball threat in no time. Name: Kirifi Hampton Position: Right Tackle Height: 6’4 Weight: 299 lbs. Position Drafted: 5th Round | 7th Pick Role: Offensive Line Depth Development: Average Key Attributes: 66 Speed | 85 Strength | 69 Agility | 76 Acceleration | 83 Run Block Kirifi Hampton is a pure depth pick with starter potential in the far future if he is correctly developed. He has very good athleticism but lacks the blocking skills necessary to be a starter. Name: Delmar Mauro Position: Cornerback Height: 5’10 Weight: 188 lbs. Position Drafted: 6th Round | 7th Pick Role: Secondary Depth Development: Average Key Attributes: 92 Speed | 66 Strength | 90 Acceleration | 79 Man Coverage | 79 Zone Coverage Delmar Mauro is a cornerback that is shorter than the normal Panthers requirement but brings a solid set of skills to the table. He will likely never amount to more than cornerback depth. Name: Delency Branch Position: Wide Receiver Height: 5’9 Weight: 191 lbs. Position Drafted: 7th Round | 7th Pick Role: Kick Returner | Deep Threat Development: Superstar Key Attributes: 97 Speed | 94 Agility | 94 Acceleration | 88 Elusiveness | 87 Spin Move | 90 Juke Move | 86 Ball Carrier Vision | 81 Catching | 76 Route Running | 82 Kick Return Delency Branch is the surprise pick of the draft for the Carolina Panthers. His athleticism and overall skillset is off the charts good. The only thing lacking in his game is his height but that should not be a big issue for him. The Superstar development trait is just icing on the cake for him. He could very well be a superstar in the future.