Happy Friday Cat Crave Nation!
By now, we are all aware of the newest Panther rookies looking to make a name for themselves, and show that they belong. They were brought in to help strengthen this Carolina Panthers team both for immediate impact, as well as future building blocks.
The bigger question is — Which 2014 rookie will have the greatest impact on this franchise over the long haul? The list is short, but it already looks like we can count on all of our draftees to have a positive presence at some point in the near future.
We know Kelvin Benjamin has already created a buzz around OTAs and the Queen City. We are all pretty confident he will put up amazing numbers and impact our beloved Panthers in 2014, but will he be able to sustain it over the next five years? Ten years? Will he make it to the Ring of Honor?
Kony Ealy has stepped into an enviable position with the talent here to mold him, plus the cap situation making it difficult to retain both Charles Johnson, and Greg Hardy after 2014. Feedback thus far on Ealy has been exceptional as he has been one of the first on the field and the last to leave the field. Trai Turner was a brilliant get at the tail-end of the third round.
He should be a starter from day one and could be an unsung hero in the trenches whose impact doesn’t show up in the box scores. His blend of athleticism, brute strength and age will allow him to grow into a beastly RG. The two defensive backs with different playing styles have an opportunity to shine in a secondary with question marks.
Tre Boston has veteran experience playing in front of him on the depth chart in Roman Harper and Thomas DeCoud. The veteran’s age will limit their longevity with Carolina, so Boston has time to become a student again and absorb as much as possible from the two tenured safeties ahead of him. Bene Benwikere (trust me Panther Nation, his name gets easier to say with repetition) has a different path in front of him. He will battle Charles Godfrey for the nickel slot in 2014, but is better equipped to eventually kick outside at RCB or LCB. Benwikere is a smooth “do-it-all” corner that already have coaches smiling in OTAs.
Tyler Gaffney arrives to a very cluttered backfield that is in need of some spring cleaning. High-priced, aging and banged up veterans occupy the two starting slots, and a second-year scat back is clawing at the same opportunity that Gaffney sees. Gaffney has low mileage on his tires and brings a different style of running back to this unit. He reminds me of a Stephen Davis-Roger Craig hybrid a little with his upright, yet bruising running style.
Each of these players brings something different to the table. Some will have early success, but might not project as a long-term answer. Some are in a position to slowly ease into things, and their presence might not be felt until 2017 or 2018.
So, what do you say Panther Nation…. who do you think will have the greatest long-term impact on our franchise?