The SB Nation NFL preview came out this week and as usual, they got a lot right about the Panthers. Let's take a look at what they had to say and see if we all see eye to eye.
Of all the NFL previews, SB Nation's is one I routinely agree with, year in and year out. Perhaps it's having a network of plugged-in blogs (such as this one), but I find they have their finger on the pulse more often than not. It's refreshing seeing a media outlet not follow the national media party line. Here is this year's NFL Preview and more specifically, Carolina's page. I encourage you to read it, if you haven't already.
Here are some of the highlights. For the team MVP, they suggested Luke Kuechly. It's hard to argue with that. The Panthers had the second ranked defense in the NFL last year and as much credit as the defensive line gets, Kuechly is the director of the bloody ballet. When the defense is going, it's an absolute thing of beauty, thanks in part to the talented middle linebacker. However, I am going to suggest a popular alternative. While Kuechly is Carolina's best overall player, Cam Newton is the team MVP, hands down. Week in week out, no single player is more important to the Panther's than Cam Newton. Without Newton, the season would be a wash, regardless of how talented the defense is.
For team rookie, they highlighted Kelvin Benjamin. This quote stood out to me the most:
Though Benjamin was picked No. 28 overall, and the fifth receiver taken, he’s got the potential of a top-10 pick.
It's hard to disagree with this and I think it's the gamble Gettleman made when he drafted the kid. Originally, I said I thought he'd be the kind of player that may catch 30 balls and 10 of them will be for touchdowns his rookie year. In the preseason, he showed me a more complete receiver than I originally gave him credit for. It wouldn't completely surprise me if he had the best year out of his fellow rookie wideouts.
Finally, we get to the team wild card. SB Nation is suggesting it's Melvin White, and it's hard for me to disagree. In fact, PFF has rated White as a top corner in the preseason. However, I am going to offer up a different wild card. That's running back Jonathan Stewart. We know him as the often injured Carolina running back, and it seems like the national media has all but forgotten him. It's easy to see why, he hasn't exactly been effective the last couple years – he's combined for 141 carries for 516 yards and 1 touchdown. It's been said multiple times that he's the healthiest he's been in years and that's a good thing for Carolina. He's far and away the most talented and balanced rusher on the team and a healthy Stewart could be just what the doctor ordered for a team with offensive line struggles.
So what do you think, CSR? Agree? Disagree?
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