Could the explosive WR the Panthers seem to want be found in the 3rd or 4th round, rather than the 1st

The debate over who is the best WR pick for the Panthers at #14 has raged for over a month now, usually it's Tavon Austin vs Cordarrelle Patterson, but in the lasy week it seems Keenan Allan may have suplanted Patterson in the argument. Well, today we should learn all we need to know about Allen, as he undergoes his first workout. So, if Allen proves he's fully recovered from his November knee "sprain", and runs a fast 40 time, he can lockup the 14th draft slot, but if he doesn't, then he probably drops out of the running.

Everyone posting on this sight seems to favor the Panthers drafting an explosive WR. With Steve Smith's age, it's hard to argue with that logic, when LaFell and Hixon are the only 2 other productive WR's on the roster. Since everyone seems to want an explosive WR who can help Steve Smith now, and replace him when he leaves, let's look at Smith's 2001 Combine numbers, and see how they compare with some of this years draft options.

Measurement - Steve Smith - Cordarrelle Patterson - Tavon Austin - Marquise Goodwin - Kenny Stills - Ryan Swope

Height - 5'9" - 6'1 7/8" - 5'8 1/2" - 5'8 7/8" - 6'0 1/2" - 6'0 1/8"

Weight - 184 - 216 - 174 - 183 - 194 - 205

Arm Length - NA - 31 3/4" - 30" - 31 1/2" - 30 1/2" - 31 3/8"

Hand Size - NA - 9" - 9 1/8" - 8 5/8" - 9" - 8 1/2"

"Official" 40 time - 4.41 - 4.42 - 4.34 - 4.27 - 4.38 - 4.34

"Unofficial" 40 Time - NA - 4.37 - 4.25 - 4.21 - 4.28 - 4.38

10 Yard Split Time - NA - 1.55 - 1.45 - 1.43 - 1.53 - 1.47

Bench Reps - NA - NA - 14 - 13 - 16 - 16

Vertical Jump - 38.5" - 37" - 32" - 42" - 33.5" - 37"

Broad Jump - 10'1" - 10'8" - 10'0" - 11'5" - 10'4" - 10'5"

3-Cone Drill - 7.49 - 7.19 - NA - NA - NA - 6.76

20 Yard Shuttle - 4.25 - 4.42 - 4.01 - NA - 4.35 - 4.13

How do this drafts WR's stack up against Steve Smith?

Cordarrelle Patterson is a bigger WR than Steve Smith, but their workout numbers aren't much different, just an edge to Patterson on the 3-cone drill, offset by Smith's better 20 yard shuttle. Tavon Austin is slightly smaller than Smith, and a good bit faster in the 40 and 20 yard shuttle, but a very poor vertical jump, making him an even shorter target. Marquise Goodwin is by far the fastest of all these WR's, with an excellent 42" vertical jump, that when added to his height, ties him with Patterson for the highest vertical reach of all these WR's. Kenny Stills is only held back by a short vertical, and an average 20 yard splt. Ryan Swope ran very well, and his only drawback is small hands.

All the draft's top WR's seem to be lacking something.

Cordarrelle Patterson's drawback is that he only has 1 season of BCS level experience, with only 46 catches. Tavon Austin's had great college production, but his drawback is his small size, which his poor vertical jump limits him to being a slot receiver, where his ability to absorbe NFL hits is questionable. Marquise Goodwin's drawback is small hands, and that 2012 was his least productive season, with only 26 catches, but he spent that spring and summer preparing for and participating in the Olympics. Kenny Stills had good college production (around 60+ catches a season), but not great, and short arms. Ryan Swope's drawbacks are small hands and a history of concussions.

What's my conclusion?

All of these WR's could turnout to be good NFL WR's, or draft bust. So, my conclusion is that the 3 likely 3rd or 4th round WR's(Goodwin, Still, and Swope) are a better value in those rounds, and not more risky than the 2 likely 1st round WR's (Patterson and Austin). Of those 3 likely 3rd or 4th round WR's, I give Goodwin the edge, because of his outstanding speed, and his ability to play outside like Steve Smith, thanks to his great jumping ability.

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