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A Couple Of Offensive Prospects For The Panthers To Consider In The Middle Rounds

The bad news: neither of them are the sort of Khan Noonien Singh (the cool one played by Ricardo Montalban and not the creepy one played by Benedict Cumberbatch) type genetically superior specimens like Calvin Johnson and Rob Gronkowski. The good news: they could be productive role players in the Panthers offense.

1. UGA TE Arthur Lynch. Not the greatest athlete in the world in terms of speed, size or athleticism, yet he always makes plays when they actually remember to throw him the ball. It is the most confounding thing about this Georgia program: year after year they land some of the best high school TE recruits in the country (understandable because they are one of the few major college programs that still runs a pro-style offense instead of some form of the spread) only to never actually throw them the ball. Instead, the TE gets largely ignored in their offense in favor of throwing to their unreliable (lightning fast but poor route runners with bad hands) WRs and checkdowns to the RBs. Ugh! Anyway, Lynch was the #2 rated TE in the country in his recruiting class. He has 45 catches for 766 yards and 6 TDs the past 2 seasons, but don't let the modest stats fool you: he consistently gets open on short and intermediate routes, is a good blocker (not a glorified in-line WR lining up at TE) in both the passing and running game, and has decent measurables (6'5", 255 lbs, 4.7 40 yard dash). Even if Mike Shula never sees the merits in using a 2 TE offense to make both Cam Newton and the running game with Double Trouble + Tolbert devastatingly efficient, getting this guy in the 4th round so he could get on the field and make some plays in the passing game would be worth the investment.

2. Notre Dame WR T.J. Jones. Again, if you are looking for a 6'5", 230 lb. guy with 4.3 speed and a basketball vertical to be your franchise WR, look somewhere else, but if you are looking for someone from the middle rounds who can contribute this is someone to consider. Jones began his career at Notre Dame as a slot WR, but has grown an inch or two, put on some pounds and is now the #1 WR for the Fighting Irish. True, he has only 165 catches for 2212 yards and 18 TDs for his career, but the QB situation at ND has been less than stellar (to be kind). This season, even without a Tajh Boyd or Johnny Manziel getting him the ball, Jones has 54 catches for 890 yards and 8 TDs. What is particularly impressive is his 16.5 yards per catch this season despite playing with a QB who has a weak arm even for the college level. Now he is 6'0", 195 lbs. and has a 40 time of slightly below 4.5 plus was merely very good, not dominant in college so do not look for this guy to be the next Steve Largent. But if he is available in the 4th or 5th round, he would be a good option as a candidate for slot WR or a backup deep threat. And similar to Lynch, Jones was a 4 star recruit in high school.

Basically, what has killed the Panthers the past several years in the draft has been not getting practically anybody after the 1st or 1st 2 rounds. Rounds 3-5 are critical not just for finding developmental guys who will start down the line, but role and complementary players. This year Gettleman did a good job in getting A.J. Klein in the 5th plus guys with draftable grades on their board in Melvin White and Robert Lester as UFAs. Sure, get the franchise OT or CB or WR in rounds 1 and 2 to go with Star and Short (and before them Kuechly and Cam) as franchise pillars, but Lynch and Jones are the types of guys that are needed in the middle round to build on guys like that.

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