With Marty Hurney as general manager the Carolina Panthers have had an affinity for bringing in players from Fresno State wherever possible. This ranges from Richard Marshall, to David Carr, Seyi Ajirotutu and Jason Shirley- while this is a fairly short list it also represents a large portion of the players the Bulldogs have sent to the NFL.
Today the Carolina Panthers sent several coaches out to California to view their pro day, and this is fascinating for one key reason: There's only one player worth that kind of attention, and he's a WR.
Devon Wylie is just 5'9" and weighs only 185 lbs. No scout believes Wylie is a future #1 or #2 receiver, so why the onus on spending so much time with him? Ultimately I think it might be the writing on the wall, not the draft board that sheds some light on the interest. I'll dig into that...
After the jump
716 yards receiving and just one touchdown doesn't seem impressive, especially for a player who would likely warrant no earlier than a fourth round pick. However it's his role as a punt returner that the Panthers are likely scouting- 4th in the nation last year with 15.38 yards per return and two touchdowns, he finished the year 0.81 yards per return away from #1 in the nation.
If you're an Armanti Edwards fan you probably want to stop reading now.
The focus of the Panthers on looking at punt returners doesn't stop with Wylie; they were also at Arkansas' pro-day and scheduled a 2-day visit with WR Joe Adams (the #1 PR in the nation). While at Virginia Tech's pro day they wanted to see Jayron Hosley run PR drills (#13 in the nation) and finally the ST coaches spent time observing TJ Graham at NC State's pro day (#12 in the nation). That makes four of the NCAA's top 15 punt returners all being heavily scouted by the Panthers.
Obviously none of us know if they like any of these prospects, but let me put it this way- I wouldn't rush out and buy an Armanti Edwards jersey right now. If the PR job is taken from him there is very little chance he'll make it through training camp, and Ron Rivera's staff have no loyalty to the former 3rd round pick. It would obviously be an extremely hard pill to swallow for Appalachian State fans, but all doesn't seem to be well for Edwards' long term future with the organization.
I'll be keeping an eye on more PR targets the Panthers are looking at, because as it stands they are investing a lot of time in the smaller, more elusive WRs with PR experience. Revamping the special teams is a focus for Carolina, and it appears they're willing to continue this philosophy into the draft.