Predicting the Panthers 2016 Starters & Backups
Starter: Kelvin Benjamin
The Panthers offense surprised last season by leading the league in scoring (31.3 ppg) behind Newton’s 35 passing scores. And they did so without their number one wideout in Kelvin Benjamin. After a tearing his ACL and rehabbing a full season, Benjamin is primed for a productive year as he steps into one of the league’s most dynamic offenses as the number one target.
Backup: Devin Funchess
After ending the year on a high note, Devin Funchess is poised to contribute even more in 2016 and could wind up seeing plenty of opportunities. After being set back by preseason injury, Funchess came on late in the year in 2015 to catch 24 passes for 383 yards and five scores in the final nine weeks of the season. This offseason, the second-year wideout has reportedly looked “light years” ahead of where he was last year and should see plenty of chances to prove it.
Starter: Ted Ginn Jr.
When Benjamin went down in 2015, all eyes were on the rag-tag receiving corps of Carolina who weren’t expected to do much. Fast forward to 2016 and Ted Ginn Jr. is fresh off a career year in which he caught 44 passes for 739 yards and 10 scores as the team’s top wide receiver threat. This upcoming season, Ginn will be able to benefit from the return of Benjamin and could be in store for another solid year as the Panthers’ deep threat. With the experience he possesses and his chemistry with Newton, expect Ginn to hold onto a starting spot this year.
Backup: Philly Brown
An undrafted free agent in 2014, Corey “Philly” Brown has slowly but surely carved out a role in the Carolina offense. As one of the few Panthers receivers with no drop issues (one on 54 targets in 2015), Brown has established himself as a valuable, shifty, sure-handed weapon who can go up and make plays all over the field when necessary. His speed isn’t blazing and his size (5-foot-11, 190-pounds) will likely never make him more than a third receiver but he should still have a productive role with the Panthers again in 2016.
Next: TIGHT END