C3 is taking a look at 10 WRs that the Panthers could and should be targeting in the upcoming Draft. We will Chronicle 10 guys (or Cats) and give you some little known information on them.
This is not a ranking based on talent nor production. This is who I see as the best fits for what the Panthers want and need to do to add juice to the Panthers Offense in 2015 and beyond. And we will get these in prior to the Combine that begins on Feb. 20.
There are four players that I did not include in my list as I just don’t see them either being there or I don’t see them as “Panther-type players. Those four are: Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker (who I don’t see as available at Pick 28) and I left out DGB as I don’t see anyway the Panthers take the risk with this young man.
I see the Panthers needing speed, good route running, ability make plays (whether that be YAC or elusiveness) and Special Teams ability. I also look for players that are willing and able blockers both in the run-game and down field. The more of these traits a player has, the higher on my list they will end up. And I have to admit that the Combine could reshuffle this order, so I will put out a revised ranking after the Combine. The next Cat that I look to Chronicle is out of East Carolina:
Justin Hardy WR ECU 6’0 /188 lbs.
Why he is a good fit:
Coming in at #7, Hardy is a backyard-baller that would excite me greatly if the Panthers draft in the third round and he could shoot up to the second round with a good showing at the Combine. He is the NCAA’s all-time receptions leader with 387. Compare that to the ACC all-time leader in Jamison Crowder who had 283. Hardy has good but not great size for a WR but does have NFL speed. He would also solve our Punt Return problems as he is very gifted in that area. He has been clocked at 4.51 and will shoot up Draft Boards if he tops that at the Combine.
The Panthers were terrible at the Punt Return position in 2014. And even when we had Ginn, he struggled as a Receiver. I see Hardy as a guy that would add excitement and production into the receiving game first and then also punt return game. Watching tape on Justin Hardy, he reminds me of a younger version of Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery was an animal while at NC State and was Phillip Rivers’ main target. I see Hardy with that same type of skill set. He runs very crisp routes and has sure hands. He would be a very nice complement to Kelvin Benjamin. He also has good enough size to be an asset as a blocker, which is a big deal in Carolina’s Offense.
Things he needs to work on:
Hardy does many things well but does not have elite athleticism. He will be a steady pro but may not have the high ceiling. However, he was a walk on at ECU and went on to be the all-time NCAA receptions leader, so he could easily prove this statement wrong.
Something you might not know:
Did you know that Hardy played QB as a Senior in High School and threw for over 2,500 yards and 35 TDs? (Could that come into play as a wrinkle in the Panthers Offense?) He also lettered in High School as a Basketball Player and a High-Jumper in track.
Hardy is an ideal Third Round Pick for the Panthers this year and they may have to utilize a 2nd Rounder to get him. I think The Professor and The Freakin’ Peurto Rican would lose their minds with excitement if their guy, Justin Hardy, lands as a Panther on Draft Day.
What are your thoughts Panther fans? Leave your comments below.