SBN's Ryan Van Bibber continues his position rankings with TE next up. Considering the Panthers only subtracted from this position over the offseason I'm not surprised by this ranking and analysis:
I expected more from Greg Olsen last season with a rookie quarterback and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. This could be a much better year with Jeremy Shockey, who caught 37 passes on 59 targets, out of the picture and Cam Newton vowing to put more burden on his teammates in the red zone. Gary Barnidge could emerge as a pass catcher as well. Ben Hartsock is their blocker.
So will Greg Olsen get those balls that went Shockey's way in 2011? I'm not so sure honestly. Olsen's stats for 2011 were actually right on par with his previous 4 years in Chicago:
2011 Totals: 45 receptions 540 yards and 5 TDs
The Panthers run a lot of 2 TE sets and therefore its safe to say the other TE will have to get some targets to keep the secondary honest. I expect that to be Barnidge who is an unknown quantity when the games count. Those targets might instead go to Mike Tolbert which would make Van Bibber's assessment fairly accurate.
I do know Olsen needs to reduce the amount of dropped balls and he needs to get tougher at holding on to the ball. If he does that and gets an increase in targets then he could easily have a career year.