Panthers' 53-man roster projection includes three rookie CBs, 'Rockhead'

The Panthers have three rookie cornerbacks, (from left) Daryl Worley, Zack Sanchez and James Bradberry, who are in the running for roster spots. AP Photo/Chuck Burton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers wrapped up their offseason program on Thursday and open training camp on July 27 at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Here’s a 53-man roster projection:

QUARTERBACK (3): Cam Newton, Derek Anderson, Joe Webb.

Comment: Some teams don’t keep three quarterbacks, but few teams have a third-stringer, such as Webb, who is valuable on special teams and as an emergency wide receiver.

RUNNING BACK (4): Jonathan Stewart, Fozzy Whittaker, Cameron Artis-Payne, Brandon Wegher.

Comment: This position hasn’t changed from last year, with the exception that Artis-Payne appears ready to step up if something happens to Stewart.

FULLBACK (2): Mike Tolbert, Devon Johnson.

Comment: Johnson, an undrafted rookie out of Marshall, has been compared to Tolbert in that he can play fullback and running back. Nicknamed “Rockhead,’’ he reminds me of Richie Brockel, who hasn’t been replaced since being waived injured last year. I kept him at the expense of a sixth linebacker because he can play special teams.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6): Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, Ted Ginn Jr., Stephen Hill, Philly Brown, Damiere Byrd.

Comment: Call me naïve for buying into the hype of Byrd by wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl. Keeping Byrd over Kevin Norwood or Keyarris Garrett sounds like a risk, but not so much when you consider Byrd’s amazing speed gives Carolina something the others don’t.

TIGHT ENDS (3): Greg Olsen, Ed Dickson, Beau Sandland.

Comment: The third tight end came down to Sandland and Scott Simonson. I went with this year’s seventh-round draft pick, but it could go either way.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Michael Oher, Ryan Kalil, Mike Remmers, Trai Turner, Andrew Norwell, Daryl Williams, Gino Gradkowski, Chris Scott, Donald Hawkins.

Comment: The final lineman will come down to a number of players. This may be the year the experiment with Canadian David Foucault ends.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Charles Johnson, Kony Ealy, Kawann Short, Star Lotulelei, Vernon Butler, Paul Soliai, Kyle Love, Mario Addison, Wes Horton.

Comment: I’m not sold that Horton will be the fourth end or that Love will be the fifth tackle. Rakim Cox, Arthur Miley or Ryan Delaire could replace Horton here. Carolina also could go with four tackles and keep five ends, although five tackles makes more sense.

LINEBACKERS (5): Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Shaq Thompson, A.J. Klein, Ben Jacobs.

Comment: Linebackers typically play a big role on special teams, so it wouldn’t surprise if Carolina kept six and went with eight linemen. David Mayo, a fifth-round pick last year, and undrafted rookie Jeremy Cash are candidates here.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (9): Tre Boston, Kurt Coleman, Bene’ Benwikere, James Bradberry, Daryl Worley, Zack Sanchez, Dean Marlowe, Colin Jones, Robert McClain.

Comment: The final corner spot could come down to McClain or Teddy Williams. Regardless, you have to keep bodies around because of the inexperience with three rookie corners (Bradberry, Worley, Sanchez) in the group.

SPECIALISTS (3): PK Graham Gano, P Mike Scifres, DS J.J. Jansen.

Comment: The only possible change here would be if Swayze Waters beat out Scifres as the punter. Scifres got the edge here because of experience.