A story that has flown under the radar is the position change of Panthers linebacker Jon Beason. The best 4-3 middle linebacker in football could be moving to the weak side to fill the void left created by Thomas Davis’s injury (Davis is out for a second-straight year after tearing his ACL again).
Recall that Beason was drafted out of Miami to play weakside linebacker; he only moved inside because of injuries to Dan Morgan. But since taking over at Mike, he’s become nothing short of a superstar. Beason’s football IQ and sideline-to-sideline speed are fantastic. He’s also adroit in coverage and a fierce hitter. It’s odd to see a top echelon player get relocated.
But Carolina wants to get third-year pro Dan Connor in the starting lineup. The Panthers don’t believe Connor has enough speed to play in space on the weak side and, for whatever reason, they don’t seem inclined to move James Anderson out of the strongside spot. Anderson, however, is a tad undersized and not ideal for lining up over the tight end.
Thus, Connor will man the middle, relegating Beason to the weak side. The weakside ‘backer is a prominent run-defender in Ron Meeks’s Cover 2 scheme, but not as prominent as the Mike (regardless of what Carolina says). Instead of forcing Connor into the lineup (by the way, he was very average as a spot starter last season), the Panthers should consider replacing Davis with former Bear Jamar Williams. They’de compromising strength for speed there, but at least they wouldn’t be reshuffling the strongest part of their D.
For more NFL new, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter