They’ve put it off long enough. After a frustrating playoff exit, the time has come for the Carolina Panthers to address their wide receiver problems.
Cam Newton unable to solve San Francisco 49ers pass defense
He got away with it the first time, but unfortunately the lack of an explosive pass offense was bound to catch up to Cam Newton eventually. The San Francisco 49ers proved that as they were able to shut down the Panthers offense for most of the game. Though Newton had 267 yards through the air, he threw two costly interceptions. Steve Smith had a game typical of his long, successful career but aside from the occasional plays by Greg Olsen and a few others the Panthers could never truly find a rhythm against the 49ers. There comes a time when talent is needed more than scheming, and it showed up for Carolina. Newton has made great strides for the Panthers in 2013. His defense should remain a powerhouse moving forward with Luke Kuechly and company. The offensive line is stable and the running game steady. It’s all about improving the weaponry in the 2014 NFL draft.
Kelvin Benjamin and Paul Richardson among several options
Lucky for him, the upcoming class could turn out to be one of the strongest in recent memory at the receiver position. As many as seven players have high enough grades to go in the first round. Sammy Watkins and Marqise Lee lead the pack but the Carolina Panthers know the chances of landing one of those two is negligible at best. Based on their recent loss they won’t pick until 28th in the first round, so they must do their homework on the prospects who could fall in that area. One that Cam Newton could learn to love is Kelvin Benjamin. The FloridaState standout is widely known that the man who caught the game-winning touchdown pass to given the Seminoles the national championship. At 6’5″ he is an impressive target with a wide catch radius and deceptive acceleration that allows him to gain separation from press coverage. His leaping ability makes him a terror in the red zone, as Auburn found out in the Rose Bowl. Then there is overlooked Colorado star Paul Richardson. Though a more modest 6’1″, he has more of a game breaking ability. He possesses sub-4.5 speed and used it extremely well, catching seven touchdown passes of 53 yards or more during the 2013 season. Many see him as a taller version of DeSean Jackson.
The Carolina Panthers know they have other positions to think about, but when it comes to the 2014 NFL Draft, wide receiver must come first.