Hopes are extremely high for the Carolina Panthers secondary, which could take the NFL by storm in 2022 if everyone meets expectations.
The Carolina Panthers have a very underrated secondary for the 2022 season. The organization lost Stephon Gilmore in free agency and AJ Bouye fell victim to the salary cap in the offseason, but there’s enough talent to suggest that this group of positions could be one of the strongest in the coming months.
Those in power have secured themselves a solid acquisition in the form of Xavier Woods from the Minnesota Vikings. The veteran has already improved communication on the backend and his presence will also allow Jeremy Chinn more freedom to be instinctive, making plays all over the court dynamically.
Jaycee Horn’s return after breaking his foot last year against the Houston Texans brings a physical stopping presence that was missing in 2021. He can potentially lock down the opposition’s No. 1 wide receiver consistently , allowing defensive coordinator Phil Snow to be more aggressive in his coverage packages and sending more blitzes.
Horn is a great physical turner with exceptional athletic qualities. But with such a small sample of just three games, it’s hard to say if he can turn into a better area cornerback and improve his ability to become more effective in that area of play.
The 2021 No. 8 overall selection is used to bump-and-run type play because that’s what he’s done mostly in South Carolina. Horn has all the tools to make a significant leap next season and the Panthers hope there won’t be any additional issues in terms of the player missing time.
Carolina Panthers secondary has the right mix of youth and experience in 2022
Chinn and Woods also make a good duo at safety, which the Panthers missed last year as Snow primarily used the Southern Illinois product as free safety, as opposed to boxing as he was. in 2020.
Woods will bring veteran experience and a high football IQ to this secondary. Something that could benefit the Panthers given the relative lack of experience outside of Donte Jackson, who was brought back to a lucrative three-year contract this offseason.
There is also growing optimism around CJ Henderson after an exceptional period of preparation. The former first-round pick had a rough start to life in the pros, but he certainly looks like the player many thought he had become when the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him 9th overall in Florida.
Keeping everyone healthy is crucial. But new defensive backs coach Steve Wilks may hold the key to unlocking this unit en route to potentially becoming one of football’s best secondaries.
This side room is scary in 2022 as they can be very flexible in terms of philosophy and disguises due to the hybrid players they have under Wilks’ tutelage.
The experienced coach had a top-10 defense in five of Wilks’ six years with the team. He is a proven teacher and there is nothing but confidence in his abilities to get the most out of this talented group of players.
If the secondary meets or exceeds expectations, they will easily become the most productive group since Matt Rhule took over as head coach.
The excitement is palpable. Let’s just hope everything goes according to the script.