Last week, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero referred to his pass rushers as “Mr. Burns” and “a bunch of guys that are fighting and clawing and doing a heck of a job.” Sheesh.
Anyway, what if that job ultimately isn’t good enough?
Pro Football Network analyst Dallas Robinson recently paired a few NFL teams with some of the open market’s top remaining edge defenders. And if Evero and the Panthers are looking for a boost at some point, they could find one in Yannick Ngakoue.
Now that free agent signings like Vonn Bell and Shy Tuttle are joining impact players like Brian Burns and Jaycee Horn in Carolina, the Panthers’ defense has the makings of a potential top-10 unit, especially with Ejiro Evero in place as defensive coordinator.
The most obvious hole remaining on the depth chart is at defensive end opposite Burns, where Carolina is still waiting on former second-round pick Yetur Gross-Matos to deliver.
Yannick Ngakoue has serious issues as a run defender, and he was lucky to generate 19.5 sacks over the past two years, given that he ranked 91st and 60th in pass-rush win rate in those respective seasons, per PFF. But he’s still an NFL-caliber defensive end, and he played under Panthers head coach Frank Reich in Indianapolis.
Reich, of course, wouldn’t see the end of the 2022 season with the Colts. But Ngakoue, who hasn’t finished with fewer than 8.0 sacks in any of his seven seasons, did—with 9.5 takedowns and 44 pressures over 15 games.
As Robinson notes, the 28-year-old leaves much to be desired against the run. That, however, may not matter much if Carolina enlists him strictly as a QB-seeking missile amongst their arsenal of “guys.”
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Story originally appeared on Panthers Wire