Many of us thought the Panthers would get more than one WR in this draft but I have to admit I'm a little surprised they got three. Being the third WR drafted means Gettis has an uphill battle on the depth chart but he has a number of things going for him. First and foremost are his physical attributes.
At 6'3" 217 lbs and large hands the former Baylor Bear has the classic big WR build NFL teams love. The 4.47 40 yard time at the combine means he's a big play threat as well, not just a possession receiver. As much as we believe the Panthers drafted Brandon LaFell to replace the role of WR Muhsin Muhammad as a blocker in the running game Gettis could also be targeted for that role.
In spite of his physical gifts I am not convinced Gettis' upside is limitless. Let's look at his pre-draft profile to explain what I am talking about:
Release: Has moves and strength to get past press coverage, but must be more quick and violent with his hands to beat the jam. Accelerates quickly off the line and gets past most corners with his long strides.
Being a ‘long-strider' concerns me as it will makes his double moves harder sell. Struggling against the jam will also not earn you playing time.
Having good body and control and being to snare passes is desired but he must get out of the habit of waiting for the ball.
Hands: Catches nearly everything thrown his way, but traps the ball against his chest too often; needs to trust his large and strong hands and catch the ball away from his frame. Extends to grab wide throws and reaches above his head to snare high throws, exhibiting good body control in the air.
Route running: Uses his size and length to get physical separation, and his long strides are hard for corners to match when running full tilt down the sideline. Sells the deep route, but has better foot quickness than expected for his size when stopping to curl or turn outside. Working on sinking his hips to get into and out of cuts more fluidly.
Sending him on fly patterns is certainly what Steve smith would want but if he wants to get targets in this league he'll need to be able to run all the routes.
After the catch: Possesses acceleration and elusiveness not expected of large receivers. Also able to stiff arm and run through smaller would-be tacklers in the secondary. Used on quick screens. Though he's taller than most kick returners, he has a chance to contribute there because he has a bit of elusiveness and hits holes at full stride.
I have no complaints here.
Blocking: Uses his size to neutralize corners in the run game or on quick screens, dropping his hips and extending to keep them from ripping off. Needs to consistently give the effort to get to a target.
He had better excel for blocking or he won't make it past the final cut.
Intangibles: Took him some time to become a regular contributor despite his physical attributes. Puts effort in on the field now, however, gaining the respect of his teammates and coaches - and now looks to be ascending up draft boards in a similar way.
This concerns me the most. I put more credence in on-the-field production and in this regard Gettis appears to be a project. There is truth the fact Baylor struggled to throw the ball but Gettis didn't really become a threat until his senior year in spite of his obvious physical gifts.
The fact Gettis matured slowly makes me inclined to think Gettis is a project who could end up on the practice squad if he doesn't show promise in his ability to block or grasp his assignments. Given the fact the Panthers are suddenly deep at WR will they have the patience to cut a guy like Charlie Martin in favor of Gettis?
There is no denying there is a place for a WR of Gettis' size and speed. Yet even the big Moose had some quicks and the ability to sell the double move. In a couple seasons Gettis could become the same type of WR.
In summary, Gettis seems to have the kind of potential any team would covet provided they have the patience and the depth to stash him on the end of the roster for a season or two. From there it's up to Gettis to fill the role he is targeted for and that is a big blocker who can bring reliable hands and occasionally get behind the defense.