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Projected 2015 starters: Carolina Panthers

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Around The NFL predicts the Week 1 starting lineups for all 32 teams, analyzing the potential impact of each rookie class. See every breakdown here.

Panthers Projected Starters
  Offense Defense
  QB Cam Newton DE Charles Johnson
  RB Jonathan Stewart DT Kawann Short
  WR1 Kelvin Benjamin DT Star Lotulelei
  WR2 Devin Funchess DE Kony Ealy
  WR3 Jerricho Cotchery OLB Thomas Davis
  TE Greg Olsen MLB Luke Kuechly
  LT Michael Oher OLB Shaq Thompson
  LG Andrew Norwell CB1 Bene Benwikere
  C Ryan Kalil CB2 Josh Norman
  RG Trai Turner SS Roman Harper
  RT Daryl Williams FS Tre Boston

» It doesn't really matter whether Devin Funchess or Jerricho Cotchery get listed as a starter. They will both be on the field most snaps, and they both don't have NFL-level speed on the outside. It's strange that three of Carolina's best four receiving options are best off in the slot.

» This is the first season where Jonathan Stewart enters as the clear starter, with no injury concerns. It would be wild if he finally made the leap after seven NFL campaigns. He has top-10 running back talent if he stayed healthy.

» The Panthers offensive line improved late last season. The presence of Michael Oher at left tackle threatens to ruin that progress. Fourth-round rookie Daryl Williams is the best bet at right tackle.

» Shaq Thompson was drafted to replace Thomas Davis, but there's no reason they can't play together this season. Carolina's front seven has a chance to be nasty. Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei are breakout candidates in year three. We picked Kony Ealy as a starter because of his pass rush skills, but Wes Horton and Mario Addison will be in the mix.

» We have veteran pickup Charles Tillman slated as the team's third cornerback for now. Bene' Benwikere could primarily play the slot when three corners are on the field. The Panthers defense could be great if Benwikere and Tre Boston hold on to the gains they made late last season.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast welcomes Lindsay Rhodes to discuss the Patriots' response in the "Deflategate" saga and the latest names revealed on the "The Top 100 Players of 2015" countdown. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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