The 2012 season was one that saw the defensive end position return to dominance in Bank of America Stadium. A stable of home-grown talent finally matured, giving the team its best pass rushing in a decade. Coupled with this, the team enjoyed production from unpredictable places, and now a position that looked so weak for so long, can be leaned on as a team strength.

It has been a long time since the Carolina Panthers had a dominant pass rush. Julius Peppers was the team's constant, but across from him was a cavalcade of mediocrity -- a talentless black hole, left void since Mike Rucker's retirement in 2007. When Julius bolted for colder pastures in Chicago, the Panthers had no plan -- only hope. That hope hinged on Charles Johnson, a then-young pass rusher that advanced metrics said was poised to break out, but who it was hard to throw unconditional faith behind -- especially with just 10.0 career sacks to his name. To the chagrin of the rest of the NFC South, he did break out, and in a big way. Now joined by Greg Hardy, whose coming out party happened in 2012 -- Carolina is a team to watch on the rush.