Giovanni Ricci- Carolina Panthers TE/FB
The Carolina Panthers have depth at both tight end positions. Ian Thomas is slated as the starter but has hardly been a factor on offense since Rhule came on board with just 333 receiving yards and one touchdown in two seasons.
His lack of production could’ve been from the scheme. This has the potential to change dramatically as Carolina’s new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is known to get his tight ends involved heavily in the passing game.
Thomas has given the fanbase very little optimism, although the Panthers were confident enough in the player to hand him a three-year extension this spring. If his lackluster play continues and Tommy Tremble cannot make strides, Giovanni Ricci could step into the fold after impressing this offseason.
Ricci has good size and has been able to show the coaching staff he is versatile as a pass-and-run blocker. But he also can be used in the passing game with improving route-running and dependable hands across the middle.
The former Western Michigan star is likely to come in as a full-back when called upon, which is his primary responsibility initially. But if given the opportunity, Ricci could be a viable tight-end starter.
Maybe not long-term for Carolina, but possibly for the season if Thomas continues his poor play and Tremble doesn’t take a leap forward.