We've discussed almost all the top prospects here on CSR, but now it's time we look at little deeper in the board to find a player who may not be a unanimous top-10 pick, but a player who could hold a lot of value to the organization. Time and time again we've seen that it only takes one team to fall in love with a prospect to see them go earlier than 'expected'. Sometimes this can result in Jon Beason, and other times Troy Williamson- but regardless how these picks pan out there will always be a team who are scolded for 'reaching' in the draft post-mortem.
This morning I'm looking at Baylor WR Kendall Wright, a player I'll freely admit I've been a little harsh on. At first glance Wright looks to be the product of an excellent QB, however when you really distill his film you'll see a player who was the only receiver in this draft class who made his opponents look foolish. After the jump we'll look at what Wright did last season, what he could mean to the Panthers and why he might warrant a 1st round pick.
There are plenty of voices who believe that when the dust settles Kendall Wright will stand out as the best receiver in this draft class. Drawing comparisons to Steve Smith and Wes Welker sounds good on Sportscenter, but what does it really mean when looking at the prospect?
The first word that comes to mind is 'separation'. When looking at Wright vs. the other receivers in this class there's no comparison. He plays not just with a speed, but a suddenness that leaves DBs in his wake. His cuts are second to none, and he was able to make something out of nothing on numerous plays.
Previously I saw him as a player who was a product of Robert Griffin III's ability, but the truth is that Wright made RGIII look as good as Griffin made him look. In relation to Alshon Jeffrey I've discussed his ability to catch in traffic aiding Cam, Wright is able to get such separation that he would be an easy target for Newton.
Even though I've poked fun facetiously, it's clear Wright is far faster than his combine numbers suggest. I don't pretend to know why he looked so poor in Indy, but the player on film is not the one who we saw joining the cattle call in Indy.
When it comes to Kendall Wright the 10,000 lb elephant in the room is size- as he measures just 5'10". As always it's important to become too size obsessed. Steve Smith, Wes Welker and Victor Cruz- all of whom measure 6' or shorter, all of whom were in the top 5 in receiving yards this year. They're joined by Antonio Brown, Percy Harvin and DeSean Jackson- another three players who are sub-6' and had over 900 receiving yards last season.
It's DeSean Jackson who I think Wright most resembles, minus the attitude problems. He has the ability to split zone defenses with his speed, and weasel his way into the second level. With the ball in his hands he's almost impossible to catch. We saw defenses start to get the better of Steve Smith as the season when on by doubling him with a safety, unafraid of LaFell or Naanee being deep pass threats.
In the Panthers pass heavy offense you could play Wright either in the slot, or on the outside paired with Smith. From here there's no good option for defenses. You can't afford to cheat your safeties in to help with LaFell (in the slot) or Greg Olsen due to the deep threat Smith and Wright present, nor can you stand to give LaFell and Olsen 1-on-1 options against linebackers. It's a horrible situation to be in for a defense.
Call it 'due diligence' if you must, but the Carolina Panthers have spent ample time scouting Kendall Wright. Yes, I know Adam Schefter is saying the Panthers believe LaFell is 'poised to breakout' and that could be true, but you don't spend as much time looking at the top three receivers in the draft if you don't have a serious interest. While I'm definitely not a fan of taking Wright in the top 10, should the Panthers find a trade partner and move back to #16 (with New York) it could be an ideal scenario to add another receiver with game-breaking speed, and take advantage of the depth at DT, DE and CB in the second and forth rounds.