The preseason is upon us and this Friday we finally get to see the Carolina Panthers in action. There are many position battles going on, but none as exciting as the wide receivers.
None of our guys will be fantasy football MVPs, but I anticipate a solid year. So far, the current cast has been taking turns showing flashes during training camp. Lucas, Bersin, King, McNutt, Brown, and company have all displayed their hands at various times, but it will take much more to earn a roster spot. Kelvin Benjamin, Jason Avant, and Jerricho Cotchery are all but assured a spot, but there are still question marks in the lineup. Who will grow into the #2 spot across from Benjamin? Is that #2 even on the roster at this point? Will someone hit the bottom of the list off the strength of their Special Teams contribution?
To focus on the “sure bets” initially, Avant and Cotchery are good compliments to Kelvin Benjamin, but there needs to be an age renaissance of sorts in the next couple years. Cotchery is going to be great out of the slot. He’ll decimate defenses on underneath routes, but the offense will need another WR on the end to lighten KB’s workload. Avant will plug in wherever needed, likely only seeing the field in four-plus receiver sets. This leaves a fairly inexperienced and unproven group to choose from. Tiquan Underwood is the obvious vet, but he may be playing himself right out of his two-year contract with drops and no solid contributions to Special Teams. The hope was he’d replace Ginn, but things aren’t looking good. The current training camp favorite, Brenton Bersin most likely won’t rise to superstar status. If he manages to reach a Ricky Proehl or Jason Avant level of reliability, though, he’ll lock in a roster spot for the foreseeable future.
Along with him, Marcus Lucas and Philly Brown have both shown potential. Brown struggled early with drops but has improved over time. His path is certainly through Special Teams, otherwise we’ll see him on the practice squad. McNutt is around as well, but it seems his opportunity has come at a very inopportune time. With Bersin locking in the #4 spot, my pick from recent training camp mumblings to take the fifth spot is Tavarres King.
King has been a treat to watch in camp it seems. Originally a fifth-round pick out of Georgia by the Denver Broncos (so many weapons there, no wonder he fell through the cracks), King understands he needs to separate during this rare opportunity. Hopefully his performance will translate into the preseason games so we can get a better idea of his potential.
Also, I’ll explain why we’ll only keep five receivers.
Versatility is the name of the game with Rivera and Gettleman looking for a lot of value. Bersin and King will be solid depth and can run block well also. That sixth WR spot, I feel, would need to be a Special Teams guy that has shown some flashes in the offense. Normally, Kealoha Pilares fits here but even he has had a couple down moments. With Bene Benwikere being given a shot on Punt Returns, it’s not looking good for Philly Brown or Pilares.
On top of all this, have you seen our TE squad?
Brandon Williams, Ed Dickson, and Greg Olsen are all monstrous targets and, with McNeil and Brockel contributing with great blocking, I have no doubt we’ll be running dual TE sets often. So what do you think readers? Share your predicted lineups down in the comments below!
Predicted WR Lineup