Coming into the 2014 season, the Panthers had a mix of veterans and unknowns catching passes from Cam Newton after doing a complete overhaul of their group from the previous season. Of this year’s receivers, only the former Florida State Seminole Benjamin looks as though he’ll be a steady contributor in the future.
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Philly Brown, an undrafted rookie free-agent out of Ohio State, showed promise in the second half of the season, but it remains to be seen if he can be a consistent contributor in the future.
There are many big-name wide receivers coming to the end of their current contracts, such as Dez Bryant and Randall Cobb, however, the Panthers may not be able to afford such players with the many issues they need to fix. It’s unlikely that either of these guys will be playing in a different uniform next season, anyway.
There will be some lesser-known wide receivers that David Gettleman could target, like Dallas’ Dwayne Harris for example. But the Panthers may be looking for someone more impactful than that. After all, according to Gettleman, they will no longer be shopping at the “dollar store” during free-agency.
The Panthers’ best option at getting a game-changing wide receiver will almost certainly be via the draft. Last season, they jumped at the chance to grab the big-bodied Benjamin and he has panned out quite nicely to this point.
Carolina is rather fortunate given that for the past two seasons, wide receivers have been one of their biggest needs. Last year’s and this year’s drafts are being considered possibly two of the best ever in terms of pass-catchers.
They will most likely take the best available offensive lineman in the first round, but there should be plenty of enticing options at receiver in the ensuing rounds.
One player that could find his way falling into Carolina’s lap is the former Missouri Tigers star, Dorial Green-Beckham.
Green-Beckham is an interesting case, as he has the talent of a top-10 pick, but off-the-field issues have caused his draft stock to fall.
At 6’5, 225 pounds, DGB is a mammoth wide receiver with plenty of speed. Many scouts believe he will need to add muscle to his lanky body, but that is something that can be addressed during the offseason.
He enjoyed an exceptionally productive career at Missouri, particularly in his sophomore year, snatching 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013. Many of his catches were highlight-reel worthy, as he possesses the capability to turn an eight-yard slant into an 80-yard touchdown.
Selecting Dorial Green-Beckham would not come without its risks, however.
His troubled childhood has translated into a career riddled with legal troubles that eventually led to his dismissal from Missouri’s program. In a two-year span, he was arrested for marijuana possession, and then later possession with intent to sell. He was also involved in an incident in which he allegedly pushed an 18 year old female down a set of stairs.
While his assault charges were dropped, these issues are a cause for concern.
With the recent news that Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon has failed yet another drug test, many teams may not want to risk a high draft pick on a player with a potentially similar fate.
That being said, the Carolina Panthers run as respectable an organization as any (aside from Greg Hardy‘s troubles) and may feel that they can contain a troubled player.
If Cam Newton could have two 6’5″ athletic, mammoth wide receivers lined up beside him, this Panthers passing attack could do a complete 180 from this past season. Considering how young he, Green-Beckham, and Kelvin Benjamin all are, they could form an unstoppable trio for many seasons to come.
Dorial Green-Beckham may have his share of off-the-field issues, but if he’s available when the Panthers are up to make their second round pick, they must select him. Talent like his is extremely rare. And to get him in the second round could wind up being one of the biggest steals of the draft.
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