When you think of the Carolina Panthers defense, you’re wondering how the opposing team is going to get through the front seven. That won’t be the case anymore as the Panthers will field two young corners on the rise and ready to get an invitation as the best secondary in the league. We’ll save that for another day though as I’m here to bring you a couple cornerbacks who are bound to break out in 2015 in IDP leagues.
The first CB I’ll be covering is rising shutdown corner, Josh Norman. He’s entering his 4th season with the Panthers. He was taken in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft and all I can say is Norman quietly had an impressive 2014 campaign down the stretch. Norman was asked to step in and start in week eight, that’s when the secondary as a whole took off. Just how good was Norman? He only gave up five yards per pass, allowed only 29 receptions on 62 targets with his best game coming against Julio Jones in week 17. As hot as Julio was down the stretch, all he could muster was 4 catches for 58 yards being covered by Norman. Norman has seen his fair share of coverage duties throughout 2014 as he had to contain Mike Evans and Jeremy Maclin as well. When quarterbacks throw his way they’re have a rating of 53.9 while posting 48 tackles, 2 interceptions, 11 pass deflections.
Some say Norman already had his breakout. I don’t believe that as 2015 he’ll truly emerge as a breakout star and be among the top covering cornerbacks in the league. He’s learned a new technique from newcomer Charles Tillman, who taught him the “Peanut Punch.” Creating turnovers will only add to Norman’s impressive stat line. He finished as CB48 in 2014, he’s basically free in any draft you do today (and another reason why you should wait to draft a CB, even in CB-required leagues.) He’s one of a handful that has a top 10 ceiling, although he’s the main guy in Carolina he’ll see his fair share of targets still to hit the mark.
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IDP FORECAST: 70 total tackles, 5 interceptions, 15 pass deflections #Money
Next up we have the up and coming Bene Benwikere, who as of right now is the nickel back behind Tillman and Norman. Bene flashed what he’s capable of as a rookie in 2014, he got a starting nod from weeks 14-17 and no CB was better (in coverage) than him during this time frame. It’s not much but it’s something to build on going forward. His best game came in week 14 against the Saints as he had a 4.0 rating on PFF (Pro Football Focus) had 5 tackles and 2 stops. Bene allowed a 66 percent catch rate with 5 pass deflections; he was thrown at 61 times and allowed 41 receptions.
IDP FORECAST: unless an injury occurs to Tillman or Norman, Bene’s opportunities have a cap because he’s the nickel back. He finished 2014 as CB87 in spot duty but during weeks 14-17 he was the CB8 averaging 9.6 points per game, that’s good for a CB. The upside is there regardless of the cap and he’ll get a good amount of opportunity to make plays. Buster Skrine’s IDP profile is a good comparison to what Bene can accomplish. Bene can rack up 50 tackles 3-4 interceptions 10-12 pass deflections and has a ceiling in the top 30, I’d buy all day as my CB2 in leagues as he’s another freebie to be had in drafts; wait on corners – trust me.
SPECIAL FEATURE: Charles Tillman is having a healthy off-season, will be starting with Josh Norman and can still pack a punch, the Peanut Punch, that got him 42 forced fumbles in his career (nobody comes close) and the punch that knotted him 4 forced fumbles in ONE GAME! Remember that? Tillman is another free option to be had in drafts or even picked up off waivers as he’s been forgotten, sure the upside is gone but his floor is solid and he’s a CB who can rack up tackles in bunches, has a few 80+ tackle seasons under his belt and averages nearly 13 pass deflections per season, he’s worth a flier in any DB/CB league as I’ll gladly take a chance on him as my CB/DB3-4.