I figured that I’ll do my due diligence and take a more in-depth look into every position of need in attempts to posture myself for the upcoming NFL draft on April 26-28 2012. Figuring that we’re already set at the Quarterback, Fullback and Running Back position I ssee no point to scope those positions in my overall studies. This is part#1 and unless my boss catches me I'll be able to support my series, wish me luck (and i'm not talking about Andrew). I do know that we have some interest in obtaining a back-up QB to groom with the same skill set as Cam Newton, but of course that's minor compared to other needs that we have. So let’s move on to my first focus area for my focus group... the Carolina Panthers wide receivers.
Steve Smith #89 Last season Steve Smith had his best year as a pro (79 rec, 1394 yrds, 17.6 avg, 7tds) since 2008 (78 rec, 1421 yrds, 18.2 avg, 6tds), and honestly broght tears to my eye's. To see the resurgence of #89 breathed life into the Carolina fan base who for some were screaming for his head on a platter or basically for him to be traded. Some fans were even calling him washed up and wanted him traded to New England for draft picks, imagine Brady season with Smitty and Welker (I don't want to). Steve definitely had something to prove to the organization and to the fans and I believe that he accomplished just about everything he set out to do. Even at his age (32) he proved as long as he have someone to air the ball out to him… that he’ll run under it. His fiesty demeanor on the feild is what the Panthers need more of to motivate this franchise to contenders... some people call it SWAG!!! On his contract he’s due 7.75 million which I believe he deserves being the only legit deep threat and sure handed receiver on the team. Obviously he’ll restructure his contract to retire a Panther (this is the time that you cheer silently). He even stated "I hope I can play four more years at a pretty decent level," he said. "I'm not the prototype receiver, so I'm kind of breaking the mold, anyway. If I keep taking care of my body. I haven't really had any really bad injuries." Expect the organization to restructure for cap relief and make Smith the greatest Panther of all time (another silent cheer). Welcome back Smitty, I for one never gave up hope in you. You're the GOAT (greatest of all time).
Legedu Naanee #17 Legadu whose nickname by fans for a short stint was Legadoodoo, Hands of stone, Brickyard 17, etc… This receiver and Cam never quite read the same sheet of music more like hiphop and country. He manage to record 44 rec, 467 yrds, 1 td being opposite Steve Smith and playing mainly against single coverage where he should have florished. Legedu never lived up to his potentialis and I believe that it cost him his position on this team. Many combine fanatics on CSR are obsessed with speed and measureables well take a look at this, Legadu ran a 4.41/4.42 but if your hands are shot then why bother. How do you know his hands are shot.. you can’t say that the writing was on the wall coming out of college with Legadu never catching more than 35 receptions (35rec 541yrds and 6tds senior season) at Boise State. His body of work was minimal there, and minimal in the NFL. I believe Legadu was a nice bridge or a stop gap receiver kind of the way Jimmy Clausen was the bridge between Delhomme and Greatness... I mean Newton. Don’t expect the Panthers to resign him so… happy trails (in my Master P voice) Na Na Na Na….
Brandon Lafell #11 All I can say is WOW!!! Originally having high hopes for Lafell coming out of LSU (6'2" 211lbs, 4.58) the Panthers expected him to grab the #2 wide-out spot and run with it once David Gettis went down with a torn ACL. Unfortunately he never seem to separate himself during the preseason, and at times never even looked like he wanted it. What Lafell was doing was buying time learning the system, but on the field he aced the practical exam as the slot or #3 receiver putting up 36rec, 617yrds, 3tds. Lafell’s production on Sundays had fans lobbying for him to take the #2 spot, and likely he'll be the front runner for it this off season. He's currently under contract but I believe that he’s ready for a major role in the offense.
Armanti Edwards #14 I’m not sure how to really address this issue seeing as how this is such a touchy subject among Panther fans. So I’ll just say that his stat were blanketed across the board… no receptions. Working with Muhsin Muhammad in the off season he seamed poised for a good season. It's hard being the #4 Wide-out on a team that uses two Tightend sets and Three wide receiver sets regularly. With his contract only being worth 490K why not let him circle the wagons one more year, and prove his worth, but this is... the last year for it. Let's get it Armanti.
Kealoha Pilares #81 Not a great deal of production as a wide receiver actually there was no production but Kealoha was primarily utilized as a kick returner after Edwards had been in effective, he showed good flashes and sparked and otherwise pedestrian special teams unit. No contract issues here and I expect to see this gentleman in a Panther uniform in 2012 as the team’s lead kick-returner.
David Gettis #12 Injury, Injury, Injury… David never had the opportunity to shine in 2012, but he has tremendous upside if he can rebound from a torn ACL. He may have lost a step and people usually do returning from this kind injury. The jury is still out until we can get him on the field but he’ll be a Panther.
Darvin Adams #86 Practice Squad player who played in two regular season games logging no catches and one tackle. Most likely will be cut from the team, or will return to the Practice Squad.
Seyi Ajirotutu #19 Who??? I’m sorry that was sooo disrespectful. The Seyi kid played in one game and managed to log one reception for four yards. Again the writing was on the wall running a 4.58 40 yard dash. His best year in college (Fresno State) he logged 47 rec, 677 yrds, 7tds. I can’t see where a spot on the roster will be for him.
With everything I managed to spout out about Carolina’s finest receivers I can only see Smith, Lafell, Edwards, Pilares, and Gettis returning. What does that mean… that the receiver position is not a position that Carolina will pass on come Free Agency or draft day. In free agency there are more than our fair share of quality receivers out there… and some great ones at that, unfortunately with our cap space we’ll be looking for a young #3 receiver who can develop into a #2. What are some possible options:
Robert Meecham, Ted Ginn, Mike Sims-walker, Bernard Berrian, Roy Williams, Donnie Avery, and of course Randy, Randy, Randy!!! (there... I've said it).
If the Panthers decide to find a good receiver through the draft, then the question is "what round will the Panthers draft one?" At our current positiont, the fourth round seems a very optimistic place to get our man. What’s this you say??? Earlier??? Of course anything can happen where the right prospect falls to us or we reach for someone, but with our other pressing needs 4th round seem better suited. If we had our third round we’d select there but 4th is as good as it gets. Possible targets:
Ryan Broyles (Oklahoma) 5’10" 192lbs, 4.46 – His injury could be the saving grace which allows him to fall into our lap. I know that it’s a stretch for him to fall but with other receivers having a strong Combine this could possibly happen.
Tommy Streeter (Miami) – 6’5" 219lbs, 4.40 – Great combination of size and speed who should be available in the forth.
Brian Quick (App St) – 6’4" 220lbs, 4.55 – Armanti 2.0??? I think not...
Marquis Maze (Alabama) – 5’8" 186lbs, 4.51 – Upgrade for our special teams.
Well that’s it boyz and girlz… Well focus group there you have it.