A look at Panthers' post-draft depth chart

May, 12, 2014
May 12
8:30
AM ET
The NFL draft all but completed the 2014 depth chart for the Carolina Panthers barring any surprises from undrafted free agents they sign.

Here's a look at it now and how the rookies (all caps) fit in:

Quarterback
Running back
  • Projected starter: DeAngelo Williams
  • Backups: Jonathan Stewart, Kenjon Barner, TY GAFFNEY
  • Comment: Gaffney was an interesting choice in the sixth round as crowded as the backfield is. It will be even more interesting to see how Carolina gets him on the field. Maybe on special teams.
Fullback
  • Projected starter: Mike Tolbert
  • Backups: Richie Brockel, Michael Zordich
  • Comment: A 6-foot, 226 pounds, there's a chance the Panthers could work Gaffney in here a bit. He's a versatile athlete, having given up a pro baseball career to play football.
Wide receiver
Tight end
Center
  • Projected starter: Ryan Kalil
  • Backups: TRAI TURNER, Brian Folkerts
  • Comment: This position is solid with a perennial Pro Bowl selection in Kalil. The team likely will teach third-round pick Turner how to play center as well as right guard, his primary position.
Left tackle
  • Projected starter: Byron Bell or Nate Chandler
  • Backups: Bell or Chandler, Travis Bond, Andrew McDonald
  • Comment: No way to say one player has this job, although Bell will go in as the heir apparent to retired Jordan Gross. I'm still surprised this position wasn't addressed in the draft, but the Panthers felt after the first four tackles were selected the players on their roster were a better value than anybody they could pick.
Left Guard
Right Guard
  • Projected starter: TRAI TURNER or Chris Scott
  • Backups: TURNER or Scott, Garry Williams, Derek Dennis, Phillipkeith Manley
  • Comment: It may be too early to pencil in third-round pick Turner as the starter here, but at 6-2 1/2 and 310 pounds and what the coaches call a "nasty'' attitude, it's hard not to.
Right tackle
  • Projected starter: Garry Williams or Nate Chandler
  • Backups: Williams or Chandler
  • Comment: Williams has started 13 games at right tackle, so he'll begin as the starter. The loser of the left tackle job between Bell and Chandler also could figure in as a starter, particularly Bell who was the regular here a year ago.

DEFENSE

Left end
  • Projected starter: Charles Johnson
  • Backups: Mario Addison, KONY EALY, Frank Alexander *, Wes Horton, Craig Roh, Alex Hall
  • Comment: The second-round pick Ealy can be eased into the lineup as a pass-rush specialist and give Johnson a break. The nice thing about the rookie from Missouri is he can play either end and move inside to tackle. *Suspended first four games
Right end
  • Projected starter: Greg Hardy
  • Backups: Mario Addison, KONY EALY, Frank Alexander *, Wes Horton, Craig Roh, Alex Hall
  • Comment: When Carolina moves Hardy inside as it did at times last season, Ealy can step right into the end spot. *Suspended first four games
Tackle
Tackle
  • Projected starter: Dwan Edwards
  • Backups: Colin Cole, Linden Gaydosh
  • Comment: This position is solid. Any of the top four tackles can play either spot and rotate in.
Inside linebacker
  • Projected starter: Luke Kuechly
  • Backups: Chase Blackburn, D.J. Smith, Ben Jacobs
  • Comments: I really thought Carolina might look for depth here, but the reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Year (Kuechly) never comes off the field so that player would have been relegated to special teams anyway.
Strongside linebacker
Weakside linebacker
  • Projected starter: Chase Blackburn
  • Backup: A.J. Klein
  • Comment: See above comment.
Left cornerback
  • Projected starter: Antoine Cason
  • Backups: Josh Norman, De'Andre Presley, James Dockery, BENE BENWIKERE
  • Comment: The Panthers are hoping Cason returns to the form he showed a few years ago in San Diego, where he once played for Carolina coach Ron Rivera. It would be a reach to think fifth-round pick Benwikere will figure in as a starter, but he will be given a shot to play nickelback.
Right cornerback
  • Projected starter: Charles Johnson
  • Backups: Melvin White, Josh Thomas, BENE BENWIKERE, DeQuan Menzie
  • Comment: I know White started much of last season here, but the Panthers are going to give Godfrey a chance to move from safety to cornerback and it's my guess they did it with the hope that he'll start on one side.
Strong safety
  • Projected starter: Roman Harper
  • Backups: Robert Lester, Russell Anderson
  • Comment: The veteran Harper gives Lester, who started a handful of games last year here, a chance to grow into the position.
Free safety
  • Projected starter: Thomas DeCoud
  • Backups: TRE BOSTON, Colin Jones
  • Comment: The Panthers are hoping free-agent acquisition DeCoud returns to his Pro Bowl status of 2012.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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