The Panthers have a lot of hope for the future with quarterback Cam Newton and had a very successful offense because of him, but their defense was the cause of their 6-10 season. A big part of their defensive struggles was their 8.4 YPA allowed, highest in the league. #1 cornerback Chris Gamble was solid, but their other cornerback, Captain Munnerlyn, really struggled last year.
Munnerlyn allowed a 73.8% completion percentage, 10.0 YPA, and 4 touchdowns to no interceptions, which led to a 126.9 QB rating allowed, good for 2nd worst among all cornerbacks who played more than 60% of their team’s snaps (behind Quentin Jammer). Munnerlyn stands at a mere 5-8 and doesn’t have the size to be a starting cornerback, but played better in the past as a depth cornerback in base packages.
According to Pro Football Weekly, the Panthers seem to agree. They report that the Panthers would prefer to move Munnerlyn into the sub packages and a reserve role. The candidates to start in his absence would be Darius Butler, a tried and failed starter in New England and Carolina, who made 6 starts last year and allowed almost as bad a QB rating as Munnerlyn last season (117.6), as well as Brandon Hogan, their 4th round pick last year who played just 57 snaps as a rookie, and 5th round rookie cornerback Josh Norman.
The Pro Football Weekly report mentioned Hogan as the guy they’d like to see develop into the starter opposite Gamble. Their belief in him explains why they didn’t address the position in the 2012 NFL Draft until the 5th round. This battle will be one to watch in Training Camp and the Preseason, but it appears that Munnerlyn is very much a long shot to start and someone who will probably only see the field in nickel and dime packages this year.