With day 7 of the 2014 NFL free agency period drawing near, the Carolina Panthers still find themselves without weapons for Cam Newton. Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, and Ted Ginn Jr. are all gone. Meaning Cam Newton will be without 3 out of his 4 favorite targets from 2013 (at least Carolina still has Greg Olsen).
I understand that the Panthers don’t want to break the bank on any one weapon, but there comes a point where you need to budge a little bit. After letting a bevy of their own player’s walk and then missing out on both Hakeem Nicks and James Jones, it is still very unclear as to who will be catching passes from Cam Newton next season.
I’ll list a few possibilities. Some will be free agents and some will be 2014 NFL draft prospects. Let’s start with the free agents.
After having two impressive seasons to open his career, Kenny Britt has strongly regressed. Before tearing his ACL and MCL early in the 2011 season, Britt was playing lights out. He racked up 289 yards and 3 touchdowns with 17 receptions. His post-surgery play hasn’t been great, though.
He had an okay season in 2012 with 45 receptions for 589 yards and 4 touchdowns. But his 2013 season cannot be described as okay, not even if you’re trying to be polite. Britt played in 12 games and started 3 last season. And he was only able to muster up 11 catches for 96 yards.
A change of scenery might be exactly what Britt needs to revitalize his once very promising career. A one year “show me” deal in Carolina would make sense.
Kenny Britt has been in the league for 5 years, but he is still only 25. The 6 foot 3 wideout’s best football might still be ahead of him.
Miles Austin certainly isn’t going to come in and be your number 1 wide receiver…or at least I would hope not. Austin, 29, is still capable of contributing, though. I view him as a low-end number 2 or high-end number 3. He’s also a guy that is capable of coming in for your number 1 while he’s tired or injured.
I’m not saying that Carolina should bring him in as a starter, but I do think that he’d be a good add for depth and veteran presence. And a veteran presence is something that the Carolina receiving corps will most likely need if they plan on building the position through the draft.
2014 NFL Draft
Luckily for the Panthers, the 2014 NFL draft is stocked with talent at the wide receiver position. 5 or 6 of them are good enough to go in the first round, too.
Due to their success last season, the Panthers will be drafting at number 28 in the first round. They’ll probably miss out on Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, but should still be in the running for some very talented wideouts.
Odell Beckham Jr. | LSU
Though Beckham Jr. doesn’t have great size, he is a dynamic playmaker. He runs solid routes and has the ability to snag the ball out of the air. He also brings punts and kick return skills to the table (something that Carolina lost when Tedd Ginn Jr. departed).
It isn’t very likely that Beckham Jr. will slide all the way down to Carolina. There is a small chance, though.
Brandin Cooks | Oregon State
Like Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks doesn’t have great size. He’s small, only 5 foot 10. But once you see how fast he is, his size quickly becomes somewhat of a side note. He ran a 4.30 40-yard dash, 4.33* officially. Simply put, he’s a burner. A burner with excellent body control and movement.
Cooks would provide Carolina with a punt returner and a true weapon on offense. They’ll be lucky if he falls to them at 28.
Kelvin Benjamin | Florida State
After watching his tape and seeing some highlights from his pro day, Kelvin Benjamin has quickly become one of my favorite players in this year’s draft. Benjamin doesn’t have blazing speed and I don’t think that he needs it. Benjamin is big. Like really BIG.
He’s 6 foot 5 and 240 pounds (roughly the same measurables as Calvin Johnson). Personally, I like Benjamin more than Cooks and Beckham Jr. I’d even go as far as saying that he’s capable of being the second or third best receiver taken in this years draft.
His leaping ability allows him to go up for the ball and snatch it at it’s highest point. It seems as if he just glides to the football. His big body also allows him to box out defenders and snag balls that seemingly aren’t within his catch radius. Benjamin is a good talent that possesses the skills to turn into an elite NFL wideout.
The players I listed are just a few possibilities, though! Who would you like to see the Panthers sign and/or draft? They have to sign somebody eventually….right?