Despite reloading weapons around quarterback Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers offensive skill players remain last in the division…
Even before new general manager Marty Hurney took roster control over for the Carolina Panthers, it seemed everyone knew Cam Newton needed a little help. The former No. 1 overall pick has set many individual records for players at his position and has even earned a league MVP award, but has yet to bring the Lombardi Trophy home to Charlotte.
For many seasons, both supporters and pundits have criticized Newton’s style of play and even more so, his perceived attitude on and off the field has been a lightning rod for controversy. All while orchestrating the most consecutive successful seasons in franchise history and leading the Panthers to their second ever Super Bowl.
After focusing on defense and constructing one of the more dominant units in the league, minus recent pitfalls in the secondary, a shift to the offense was required. The Panthers have used either a first or second round NFL Draft pick on an offensive skill player four of the past five years – using both in 2017 on running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Curtis Samuel.
The latest draft saw another first-round pick used on a wide receiver as D.J. Moore was selected to bolster a young receiving group that is largely unproven. A veteran addition of Torrey Smith this offseason helps but 10 of the Panthers 12 receivers currently on the roster have three or less years of experience.
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For these reasons, ESPN staff writer Bill Barnwell ranked Carolina as the worst NFC South team in terms of skill players at running back, wide receiver and tight end. Not taking into account coordinators, scheme, offensive line or quarterback play, the Panthers players are largely inexperienced with very few exceptions.
Veteran tight end Greg Olsen has proven to be a force in recent years but a foot injury sidelined him for a majority of the season last year. If he fully rebounds and returns to his All-Pro form then his contributions can be expected to raise the level of performance from this group.
Carolina ranked near the middle of the pack at No. 17 overall in the league but was last among divisional rivals. Atlanta (No. 3), New Orleans (No. 11) and Tampa Bay (No. 15) all were picked higher than the Panthers.
See the remainder of the league rankings and full article from ESPN here.