Ranking our top 4 candidates for the Panthers' DC job


Now that the Carolina Panthers have landed their head coach in Frank Reich, it's time to start scooping up his staff. And one of the biggest, if not the biggest hole sits at the defensive coordinator position.

So, let's sort our top contenders before the Panthers, of course, ultimately do that for us.

Marquand Manuel


Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Given the abysmal performance of Carolina's secondary when Jaycee Horn isn't on the field, particularly back in Week 17 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, perhaps it would make sense for the team to lean towards someone with experience in coaching up defensive backs.

Manuel fits that bill-not only having played as a defensive back in the NFL for eight years, but also serving as a secondary coach for the majority of his career on the sidelines. He also has a run as a defensive coordinator, when he pieced together a quietly solid Atlanta Falcons unit in 2017.

Gus Bradley


AP Photo/Gary McCullough

With the theme of experience ever-present within the hiring Reich, the Panthers may lean that way once more with Bradley.

Bradley, currently under contract as the Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator, has been on the NFL sidelines for the past 16 years. He was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks during their dominant run from 2009 to 2012, and was key in helping develop the likes of Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Richard Sherman.

He would bring a "been there, done that" type of feel to a young Panthers group that needs that one extra push to really solidify themselves.

Kris Richard


AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman

Another former player who turned his role as a defensive back into success on the sidelines, Richard has been one of the most decorated secondary coaches in the NFL. Like Bradley, he played a part in Seattle's defensive dominance-serving as an assistant, secondary coach and defensive coordinator there from 2011 to 2017.

Richard has had a hand in developing some of the most talented corners and safeties in the league, and is highly regarded as a coach by staffs and players alike.

Vic Fangio


Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of experience, it does not get much more experienced than Fangio-who has served as a NFL coach in some capacity for almost 40 years. Heck, he was the very first defensive coordinator for the Panthers back in 1995-a team that also rostered Reich. (The NFL just kind of works like that sometimes.)

Fangio is one of the most well-respected and competent defensive minds in all of football. And wherever he goes, a top-ranked defense follows-even during his brief three-year stint as head coach of the Denver Broncos.

A Fangio hire would bring security and discipline to an already loaded bunch, and could turn the unit into one of the premier defenses in the league next season. He could be key in sustaining growth within the already tethered unit and help push the Panthers into the playoffs.

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Story originally appeared on Panthers Wire


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