The punchline for the Panthers over the last few years has been their lack of receiving talent, with possibly the biggest joke being last years group. This year should dispel all critics; it seems the Panthers will trot out a formidable group of receiving talent. However, behind the twin towers in Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, the remaining wideouts form a muddled yet talented group. The Panthers kept 5 receivers on their 53 man roster last year, this year I can see them keeping 5-7. Here is my prediction on who will make up this group.
The Absolute Locks:
Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess:
This should come as no surprise, Benjamin and Funchess may form one of the most physically dominate receiving tandem that the NFL has seen the last few years. Behind these two, no one is guaranteed a spot.
Likely to Make it:
Jerricho Cotchery, Philly Brown, Ted Ginn
These three seem in a safeish position to make the 53 man roster. Cotchery still provides solid route running and decent hands, and will be relied upon to coach up the young guys. Philly Brown came on late last season and looks to battle Ginn for the slot receiver spot. The aforementioned Ted Ginn was one of our biggest offseason acquisitions (Ugh) and played decent when we rented him the year before last. Even though I don’t want Ginn attempting to catch many balls, he still makes it as our return specialist, which is direly needed.
Might Make it:
Stephen Hill and Jarrett Boykin
This is where it gets interesting. I think this will be the camp battle for the final spot at receiver. Polar opposites in style of play, Hill relies on athleticism to make plays while Boykin relies on solid hands and route running. Even though we brought Boykin in during free agency, I expect Hill will be in a better position to catch footballs for the Panthers come regular season. It is possible both make the roster, but I look for one to rise above the other.
Close But No Cigar:
Damiere Byrd, Marcus Lucas, Brenton Bersin, De’Andre Presley
I didn't really like lumping up these four, mainly because Damiere Byrd might make me look stupid (I hope he does). Not going to sugar coat it, I have a football crush on Byrd. Damiere is a guy who could earn a roster spot this year and possibly get a lot of meaningful snaps. I’m going to be bold and predict he sticks to the practice squad and earns a spot next year. The other three are question marks, with Bersin being the likeliest to make the roster.
Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, Jerricho Cotchery, Philly Brown, Ted Ginn, and Stephen Hill
I say the Panthers keep one more receiver than last year with six. I feel this is a very solid group, and one of the best assembled in Carolina since Cam arrived. I urge fans to keep their eyes glued to preseason activity, there are so many position battles that will be worth monitoring. It is possible Damiere Byrd adds to his blazing start and Boykin shows his 2013 self, both earning a roster spot. As the leading Cam Newton excuse maker; David Gettleman may have shut me up for good on the “no receivers line.” Cam finally has a solid group of pass catchers, and should be in for a career year.
By Grant Hughes
Follow Grant on Twitter @KenjonVander