Adding Jadeveon Clowney fleshes out defense, and helps bring roster into balance

But since Evero landed here last year, with senior defensive assistant Dom Capers in tow, they acknowledged that for their system to work best, they needed more than one pass-rusher. When Capers started here as head coach in 1995, they had an in-his-prime star in Lamar Lathon and journeyman Darion Conner on the other side. Those two combined for 15.0 sacks, and the Panthers had a respectable top-10 defense for the expansion team.

The following year, when they added future Hall of Famer Kevin Greene, he and Lathon combined for 28.0 sacks; they ranked second in the league in defense and went to the NFC Championship Game in their second year.

Clowney and Wonnum each had career years, and combined for 17.5 sacks in 2023, so they are not Greene and Lathon. They don’t need to be. But they may offer more of a balanced attack than the Panthers had last year, when Burns, Luvu, and Gross-Matos combined for 18.0, and no one else on the roster had more than Derrick Brown’s 2.0.

The work on defense isn’t finished; it can’t be finished. They’re still thin at the corner, and the depth across the board will be a constant question. There are still too many unknowns. But getting Clowney on board was a big step toward making things more stable and being able to work on getting the football right without worrying about filling glaring needs on draft weekend. You never want to draft for need, and now they don’t have to.

They have a big job ahead of them. But they’ve already done a lot of work, and Morgan credited the planning they did with executive vice president of football operations Brandt Tilis, Canales, and the coaching staff to pull this off in a short amount of time.

“I feel good about our execution, our alignment, and our plan in the building,” Morgan said. “I thought it was really good, the communication just between myself, the defensive staff and the offensive staff. Just kind of being on the same page with what we want from a player perspective and then, having that plan and then myself along with Brandt attacking that plan and executing. So, feel really good about it. . . .

“We want to build this roster to where we have a lot of depth and a lot of competition, and that’s going to be the premise of our program.”

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