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Final 2022 ratings for the Panthers defense, per Pro Football Focus

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By: MickSmiley

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

It was all about Derrick Brown’s absolute dominance in the middle.

The good people at Pro Football Focus spend enormous amounts of time breaking down every player’s performance on every individual play throughout the season. In the end, players can then be given a final rating somewhere between zero (poor) and 100 (elite). If you want to learn more about their methodology, you can read PFF’s Player Grade overview.

Most of us as fans view PFF ratings this way: “If the grade fits my opinion of a player then it’s credible, but if the grade conflicts with my conclusions then PFF is stupid garbage and should never be trusted.” I’m not advocating for PFF, rather I’m just providing one set of data that’s at least interesting. Here’s how PFF graded and ranked the Panthers defensive players.

Defensive line

Props to Derrick Brown for a phenomenal year in his third NFL season. His PFF grade of 84.4 was the highest by far of any Panthers player and ranked eighth of 126 at his position. With this being his age 24 season, the best is yet to come from the future Pro Bowler. Matt Ioannidis ranked 40th among interior defensive linemen and lived up to his one-year, $9.5 million contract and can hopefully be re-signed in 2023.

Brian Burns’ PFF grade of 64.5 ranked just 65th of 119 defensive ends, or slightly below average, which is just nuts. His career highs of 63 tackles and 12.5 sacks resulted in his second straight Pro Bowl nod. C’mon, PFF!

Yetur Gross-Matos seemed to regress in Year 3 despite starting for the first time in his career. He registered just 2.5 sacks in 846 snaps and his 51.2 PFF grade (110th of 119 defensive ends) and was the lowest single grade on Carolina’s defense. Marquise Haynes did his job as a spot contributor perfectly well with five sacks.


The strength of Carolina’s defense, per PFF, was the linebacker corps as all three main contributors registered grades above 70. Frankie Luvu’s 74.8 grade ranked 16th of 84 linebackers during his breakout season. Shaq Thompson continues to live in the space somewhere higher than “above average” but below “Pro Bowler” and ranked 23rd at his position. New arrival Cory Littleton was just a hair behind Shaq and was ranked 24th. Littleton was a nice one-year free agent addition and will hopefully be back next year.


After a tantalizing but very brief rookie season in 2021, Jaycee Horn was spectacular in Year 2 in the 13 games in which he played. PFF’s 71.4 grade ranked Horn as the No. 32 corner in the NFL, which is simply laughable. Sorry, PFF, but you botched this one. Jaycee Horn is a Top 15 cornerback, if not Top 10.

But outside of Horn, PFF was really, really down on the rest of Carolina’s corners, which isn’t a surprise. Donte Jackson (55.0 grade), Keith Taylor (53.8), and CJ Henderson (52.9) were all ranked below 110 of 122 NFL corners. The Henderson reclamation project isn’t paying off after trading for him in 2021.


Xavier Woods’ grade of 63.5 ranked him just 58th of 89 safeties, which seems to undervalue his 86-tackle season through 15 games. Woods had a pretty good season overall and seems to be more of a Top-35 safety than closer to 60.

Perhaps the most concerning result on the Panthers defense was Jeremy Chinn’s 54.9 grade, which ranked 79th of 89. He continues to be a solid tackler. After racking up over 100 tackles in each of his first two seasons, Chinn racked up 70 in 11 games this year. But he continues to struggle against the pass and often seemed to be out of position or getting beat in man coverage. Let’s hope he can turn things around in 2023.

What do you think about the offense, CSR community? Which PFF grades sound about right, and which ones seem way off base?

Originally posted on Cat Scratch Reader – All Posts