2014 Carolina Panthers Roster: Is Tavarres King the answer at wide receiver?

Andy Lyons

"The answer is often on your roster"

-Panthers GM Dave Gettleman

Instead of writing a scouting report on a wide receiver who will most likely be selected by another team in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft, I decided to focus on a receiver who is already on the Carolina Panthers roster -- Tavarres King.

Tavarres King’s 2012 NFL Combine Results

Height

6’

Weight

189 pounds

40-yard dash time

4.47 seconds

Bench Press

11 reps

Vertical Jump

36.5"

Broad Jump

123"

3 cone time

6.91 seconds

20-yard shuttle time

4.33 seconds

King possesses average size standing 6-feet tall, and weighing 189 pounds. However, he has excellent straight line speed, as he clocked a 4.47 time in the 40-yard dash. This speed showed up numerous times on film. Here's a touchdown catch King makes against Kentucky:

Tkverticalsephands_medium

King runs a go route and achieves five yards of seperation on the cornerback due to his speed alone. Despite a slightly overthrown pass by Aaron Murray, he is able to extend his hands and reel the ball in to make the touchdown catch.

Of course, wide receivers need more than just straight line speed to survive in the NFL. They need to be able to run crisp, precise routes to get the most separation possible from cornerbacks. Fortunately, King is a very talented route runner who showed an excellent ability to stem his routes, which is basically forcing the defender to turn his hips in the opposite direction of the wide receiver’s break.

On this play, King will run a deep post route. He's matched up against current Panthers strong safety Robert Lester:

Skpost1_medium

King starts to shade his route just slightly to the outside. Lester falls for it.

Skpost2_medium

King cuts inside, but look at Lester's hips -- paralell and facing the sidelines. King's excellent stem has completely taken Lester out of the play.

Skpost3_medium

The ball's in the air now, and Lester is a good three or four yards behind King. He doesn't stand a chance to play this ball in the air.

Skpost4_medium

Here's another play against Kentucky. Once again, King is able to sell his route by slightly shading it to the outside before breaking inside, and as a result gains ample seperation.

Tkstem1_medium

Notice the cornerback's hips. Once King breaks inside he'll have no chance at recovering.

Tkstem2_medium

The cornerback is now out of position. King uses his speed to break away for an easy touchdown catch.

Tkstem3_medium

Here's a touchdown catch against Vanderbilt:

Tktd1_medium

King runs a post route.

Tktd2_medium

Once again he does a good job selling the outside route before breaking back inside. The cornerback completely falls for it. The cornerback is athletic enough to recover, but still can't prevent the touchdown catch. King does a great job using his body to shield the defender from making any play on the ball.

Tktd3_medium

King also has solid hands. He displayed good technique catching the football, with his hands away from his body and using his body to shield the ball away from defenders trying to make plays on it.

On a poorly placed screen pass:

Tkhandscatch_medium

Most college receivers would just let this pass into their chest, and would probably still catch it, but it's encouraging to see King use good tecnique by slightly extending his hands out and catching this pass:

Tkhandsreach_medium

This is another impressive catch, on a back shoulder throw:

Tkbackshouldercatch1_medium

When studying King’s film I saw one play that reminded me of Steve Smith’s touchdown catch against the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs.

King will be running a deep post route.

Tkhands1_medium

The cornerback does a good job in coverage. This play appears to be a 50/50 situation.

Tkhands2_medium

However, King is very patient on this route -- he doesn't raise his hands until the last second. The cornerback reacts as soon as King catches the ball.

Tkhands3_medium

A millisecond too late. Touchdown, Bulldogs.

--

So why was King selected in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, and then cut in October? It’s because he’s not a perfect prospect – his game still has flaws that will need to be addressed before he can take the field with the Panthers.

One area where he’ll have to improve is fixing his concentration drops. In college, I noticed that King would often display good technique catching the football; however, he would start running before he fully completed the process of making the catch, and that resulted in some easy drops.

King is also a very poor run blocker. Part of this has to do with technique, which is severely lacking at the moment. It also has to do with his strength. It’s clear that King will need to get stronger if he wants to make more of an impact in the run game. Getting stronger will also help him beat press coverage at the line of scrimmage more effectively, something he also struggled with at times in college.

King is also not the greatest receiver after the catch -- he slows down and tries to get too shifty by laterally dancing around, and this minimizes the number of yards he can gain.

Despite some of these flaws, after studying Tavarres King’s film, I believe that with the proper coaching and development, he can be an effective #3 outside receiving option for the Carolina Panthers. He has decent size, excellent speed, and is a polished route runner with improving hands. He fits the Panthers offense as an intermediate threat who can excel on routes over the middle of the field, like posts and digs. He might not make much of an impact this upcoming 2014 season because he's still developing and there will be at least two veteran wide receivers in front of him, but I think he’ll get a very fair shot to show the Panthers that he can be a legitimate starting option in 2015.

So, is Tavarres King the answer at wide receiver? No -- he's not a #1 wide receiver. However, if King continues to develop, I have no doubt that he can become a meaningful contributor to the Panthers offense in the future.

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