Panthers need to draft a wide receiver early
The Carolina Panthers need to address their wide receiver position in the NFL Draft this offseason…
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is able to elevate average receivers to the same level as other Hall of Fame quarterbacks. The issue over the past seven years has just simply been his surrounding talent. This April at the NFL Draft, let’s all look forward to the Panthers drafting some wide receiver talent within the first three rounds.
It’s been no secret that Carolina hasn’t had a premier wide receiving corps since Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad started opposite one another. After watching a third heartbreaking loss against the New Orleans Saints – filled with drops and missed opportunities – the Panthers need to address the wide out position via the draft. That need should be sufficed with adding someone who can immediately contribute within the first three rounds.
From 2011-2018 there have been 35 wide receivers nominated to the Pro Bowl. Twenty-eight of those players were drafted in rounds one through three. Seven players were drafted lower than the fourth round and four of those were undrafted free agents. The painful truth is that Kelvin Benjamin never turned into more than an overly targeted red zone receiver, while the jury is still out on Devin Funchess. Ultimately, Carolina initially drafted him as a project.
Sick of hearing about Newton having accuracy issues? Take a look at two of the more notable receivers who recently left Carolina and compare their production.
Brandon LaFell was Newton’s secondary receiver starting opposite Smith from 2011-13. During free agency LaFell left Carolina to play for the New England Patriots. His first year with Tom Brady was a complete anomaly. LaFell finished the season with over 70 catches for the first time in his career and just under 1,000 yards. Year two he regressed to the player he always had been and wasn’t resigned. Over his next two seasons playing for the Cincinnati Bengals he’s been just as mediocre.
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Next, Ted Ginn, a speedy receiver initially drafted by the Miami Dolphins who was traded to the San Francisco 49ers and ultimately looked like a first-round bust until arriving in Carolina. Once Newton helped Ginn gain statistical relevance, he got a deal with Arizona and failed to create anything even resembling an impact leading to his release. Returning to Carolina during the 2015-2016 seasons, Ginn managed his two best years in the league. Gaining over 700 yards and reaching the end zone 14 times. Fast forward to 2017 when Ginn leaves to play for the Saints with future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, and he puts up almost identical numbers.
Newton not only raises the level of his receivers but somehow with an unheralded group throughout his career, he’s been able to gain the second most yards of any quarterback over their first seven seasons.
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Now, imagine what he could do with two legitimate receiving threats on the outside. With the right moves, everybody may find out next season.