Throughout the summer, we will touch on players on the Carolina Panthers’ roster looking to step up and emerge into the spotlight. Predictions will be thrown about. Egos will get inflated. Feelings might get hurt along the way.
Cat Crave Nation, we bring you the next player in our PTP14 Series – Jerricho Cotchery
Jerricho Cotchery has enjoyed an impressive NFL career spanning ten seasons, with Carolina being his third stop. He will be counted on to come in and contribute immediately, as well as help mentor the younger Panther wide receivers.
After a brilliant 2013 season, Jerricho Cotchery is primed to break out for the Carolina Panthers in 2014.
Jerricho Cotchery is smart, strong and quick enough to still compete at a high level. Despite rolling in at 32-years old, he will do big things in 2014. Putting up 700-800 yards and six-eight TDs is very doable for him. Cam Newton has the arm to go downfield, and with his nimble legs, can extend the play long enough for Cotchery to break off and get open.
Cotchery will never be confused for a number one WR anymore.
At one point in his career, he was capable of being the WR1, but at this stage of his journey, he is better suited as the second option. That’s not to say that the former NC State stud wideout isn’t a solid receiver, because he is.
While a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he quietly put up 600 yards and 10 TDs in 2013. His total yards were only 140 yards less than Steve Smith, but Cotchery found the endzone six more times than Smitty. Cotchery also had 18 fewer receptions to produce his numbers from.
Comparing Smitty to Cotchery isn’t really the point of this, but expectations for Cotchery to assume the production of Smith is.
Jerricho Cotchery possesses nice size (6’1″, 200-pounds) and is a precise route runner. He is well-conditioned and is a calming presence that the Panther’s receiving corps has not had for a few years. Cotchery has good hands and has always been a receiver that helps his quarterback look good.
While with the New York Jets, Cotchery helped Chad Pennington and Mark Sanchez look better than their weak arms would lead you to believe. Cotchery ran the entire route tree like a champ, and was always a reliable source to find open downfield or underneath for Pennington and Sanchez.
Cotchery then went on to Pittsburgh, where he got lost in the clutter and found his niche as the #3 veteran WR. The ex-Wolfpack WR might not have put up good numbers the first two years in Pittsburgh, but he made up for it in year three.
So how does all of this tie into Jerricho Cotchery being a PrimeTime Player in ’14?
I feel the Panthers are moving towards the model that successful teams have used for awhile now. Rather than having that All-Pro WR1 like Megatron or A.J. Green, the Seattle’s, San Francisco’s and New England’s of the League have adopted the “sum-of-the-parts” logic.
Rather than have a star, they have three or four solid, yet balanced receiving threats allowing their quarterback to be comfortable, and operate with confidence.
Cam Newton has enough confidence in himself, and having Jerricho Cotchery on the outside will only raise Newton’s game. Cotchery is a name that we will hear called a lot in 2014 for our Panthers. His knowledge of the game will not only help Carolina on the field this year, but will influence rookie Kelvin Benjamin, as well as Tavarres King and Marvin McNutt.
By the looks of early reports from OTAs and mini-camp, Cotchery is focused and balancing his time learning the playbook, as much as he is taking the youngsters under his wing. This combination will be what helps Cotchery have a meaningful impact on our 2014 team and he will emerge as the PrimeTime Player he is destined to be in ’14.
He will do it. He will do it right. He will be the humble team-first leader for this young offense.