No team in the South has struggled more to figure out their wide receiver situation than the Panthers. Some of that is due to their quarterback and his unique playing style. Cam Newton isn’t the most accurate passer in the world, so he needs receivers with large catch radiuses or blazing fast 40 yard dash times. This has somewhat been their model recently, with big Devin Funchess and speedy Tedd Ginn being their two most successful receivers over the last two seasons.
The Panthers have tried getting by on the legs of Cam Newton and a heavy dose of running game, but their weak receiving group held them back last season. Tedd Ginn left for New Orleans before the season, leaving behind Funchess and a bunch of question marks. Kelvin Benjamin was traded early in the season to the Buffalo Bills, but still finished as the Panthers third most productive wide receiver on the season. Rookie running back Christian McCaffrey led the team in receptions, and no Panther receiver hit the 1000 yard mark.
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Needless to say, the Panther receivers struggled in 2017. Devin Funchess however showed promising growth as a player. In his third season Funchess broke out to the tune of 63 catches, 840 yards and eight touchdowns, career highs across the board. At 24 years old, the Panthers at the very least have a solid second receiver for the foreseeable future.
Carolina wisely traded for veteran Torrey Smith this off-season, who will fit into the role that Tedd Ginn had as a downfield speedster for Cam Newton to chuck bombs at. Like the Falcons, the Panthers prioritized getting a receiver in this year’s draft and selected D.J. Moore 24th overall out of Maryland. How Moore fits in with the Panthers this season is up in the air, but long term the team obviously sees him as a starting “x” receiver.
If I were judging this group on a typical scale they wouldn’t grade out very positively. But for the Carolina Panthers who boast one of the league’s best tight ends and emphasize running the ball, their new trio of receivers should be fine.