Talk to a Carolina Panthers fan for five seconds and they'll tell you about the woeful position the team is in at wide receiver. It's become an ever-present concern since the release of Steve Smith and it seems almost inevitible that the organization will walk away with one, possibly two pass catchers in May.
The problem is working out which ones.
Dan Kadar has assembled the wide receiver rankings for SBNation.com based on his film evaluation and study. The top is solid with Sammy Watkins being the guaranteed top player at the position, but things get a little more shaky from there. Here are the rankings that leaped out at me.
4. Odell Beckham Jr.
Last year there was the inescapable fact that the top rated wide receiver wasn't a fit for the Panthers. Tavon Austin had a lot of unique traits I still believe will shine through when the dust settles, but in order to use him it requires a very specialized offense.
What I love about Beckham Jr. is that there's nothing about his game that needs to be altered to slot in with the Panthers. In fact, he could be the best fit of any player -- at any position.
The characteristic I'm a sucker for is separation through route running. Forget speed and leaping ability, can the dude run a route? Don't get me wrong, the other two are important but that's what I saw in Keenan Allen last year and why I was so high on him.
Beckham Jr. has that same ability. He accelerates quickly and knows how to shake a DB by using an array of moves. Is he going to be a deep burner like Brandin Cooks or an end zone threat like Kelvin Benjamin, no -- but he's a guy who I think becomes a workhorse wide receiver who can move chains.
Of the players who the Panthers have a slim chance of taking, he's the top of the heap.
7. Kelvin Benjamin
Gambling on upside, every team does it. Sometimes this risk pays off, other times it's a total bust. By ranking him in the seventh spot it shows that Kadar doesn't grade Benjamin out as a first round pick, which is sensible given how much he needs to work on.
That said, there are things to his game that suck you in. Rare size, fantastic athleticism, a mismatch nightmare. Essentially he's a bigger Alshon Jeffery, but a better athlete.
Would he be a risk at No.28? Absolutely. However, if one of the teams picking in the top five foregoes taking a quarterback or pass rusher it could be a fascinating situation in a trade down scenario. Drop back to the top part of the second round, pick up a third round pick THEN swing for the fences on Benjamin? Sounds like a heck of a plan, especially with more picks to mitigate the risk.
11. Allen Robinson
It wasn't long ago that the Penn State receiver was the flavor of the month to be in play at No.28, but that sentiment has cooler. While I think Robinson is too good to last until the Panthers second round selection, it is fascinating to see Kadar rank Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams and Donte Moncrief ahead of him.
Robinson is a good receiver, not a great one. I think he'll be a long time top-level second receiver, but never crack into being a franchise's game changer. The Panthers really need a guy like that, but his talent leaves him in a limbo -- not good enough for the first round, unlikely to last until the second.
36. Michael Campanaro
Yeah, I'll keep beating this drum because I friggin' love this kid. If you're looking for a guy in that fourth or fifth round range you're hard pressed to find a better option.
Kadar thinks less of Campanaro than I do, but hey -- different opinions are fun! Personally, from a pure scouting and film level I don't think he's completely dissimilar to Brandin Cooks. Look, Cooks is better, let's make no bones about it -- what I'm saying is that if you're telling me it's a first round investment for an elite slot receiver and a fifth round investment for a darn good one, I know where my money's going.
Campanaro is a heck of an athlete, he has that small man chip that Steve Smith does and he's a tireless worker. Pair that with Ricky Proehl basically having an unfiltered Wake Forest pipline to learn about him? Seems like a great option.