The Carolina secondary was monstrously good in 2015, but as they head into the 2016 there are some holes. All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman was allowed to leave town as a free agent, as did safety Roman Harper who had a renaissance last season before returning to New Orleans.
That movement has left gaps in the back of Carolina’s defense and the cover 2 they love to play. Norman played 96.5% of the defensive snaps in 2015, Harper played 86.5% – that is a huge amount of play, and at an amazingly high level, to replace.
It’s unreasonable to expect anyone to come close to Norman’s level of play, and the Panthers have a lot of options to cover the snaps, from rookies James Bradberry, Daryl Worley and Zack Sanchez to more established players like Robert McClain – but it is likely to be a long road to finding a new starter.
What is far more likely, is the ability to replace Harper at safety.
Boston is entering his third year with Carolina, the prime moment for a breakout season, and does have some experience as a big contributor – playing 35% of snaps in 2014. He was fairly productive in those snaps as well, snagging the above pick six against Matt Ryan and deflected 4 passes. He showed a good nose for the football in college and has a pair of playoff interceptions against Arizona to prove his ball-hunting skills at the highest level. He is also a terrific tackler who has excelled on special teams over the last two years and alongside Kurt Coleman should slot in fairly seamlessly. He does lack some of the range of Harper, but makes up for it with surer tackling and the fact that as just 25 there is a lot of room for improvement in the mental aspect of the game which can help to solve some of his range issues.