Every NFL season comes with unforeseen surprises and unexpected turns. Not all of them are pleasant, but it’s always great to see players who take an unexpected leap forward and make a big impact for their team.
Last year, the Carolina Panthers had a few sleepers show up. Backup running back Mike Davis did an excellent job in Christian McCaffrey’s place while he missed most of the season due to injuries. On defense, rookie Jeremy Chinn broke through with an exceptional rookie year.
This year, Bleacher Report has identified one sleeper for every team. In Carolina’s case, it’s linebacker Denzel Perryman.
“Perryman is getting a second chance to be a starter after inking a two-year deal with the Panthers. Shaq Thompson is entrenched as one of the every-down linebackers, but Perryman has a path to a three-down role if he can stay on the field. If he starts in the middle for the Panthers, he’ll blaze past that 73-tackle high-water mark. And the acclaim we thought was inevitable all those years ago may finally come.”
Perryman proved to be a reliable tackler and a solid coverage linebacker during his time with the Chargers. The question is if he’ll stay healthy enough to maintain that full-time middle linebacker role. Since he was drafted in 2015, Perryman has missed 27 games total.
The good news is that even if Perryman’s injury issues continue, the Panthers have a quality backup option in Jermaine Carter, who performed well down the stretch after Tahir Whitehead was benched.
Related Panthers LB Jermaine Carter: Rookie CB Jaycee Horn has ‘held his own’