Panthers 2014 Draft: Ranking Draft Picks by 1st Year Impact

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Here's a look at the Panthers 2014 draft class ranked by predicted first year impact.

Just because a player is picked in the first round doesn't necessarily mean they will get on the field much less make an impact on the team or season. This Panther draft class is no exception. I think that the player that will have the biggest impact on the team was not drafted first by the Panthers.

Ranking by predicted biggest impact to least.

#92 3rd Round OG Trai Turner

The Panthers had no position with more turnover in 2013 than RG. Turner provides a much needed answer at a position that has had little stability since Jeremy Bridges manned RG in 2008. The Panthers need a road grader on the right side who can also prevent pressure up the middle. If Turner can prove to be a quick study of schemes he can earn this spot in the preseason given his competition is either a vet coming off a serious injury or another young player.

Predicted Impact: 16 game starter

#28 1st Round WR Kelvin Benjamin

Unlike the situation facing Turner the Panthers have veterans at WR who should be healthy and motivated to make an impact. The Panther coaching staff tends to favor the vets they are paying to be starters. Cotchery, Avant and Underwood will get their chance to make plays as Benjamin is worked into the rotation. One thing in Benjamin's favor is that the vets WRs are just as new to QB Cam Newton as he is. Also none possess the size and red zone threat that Benjamin brings. If he and Newton can develop a sense of trust and timing then Benjamin could potentially make an increasing impact as the season progresses. By the mid-point of the season he could be starting.

Predicted Impact: Valued back-up with red zone potential who could be starting in the second half of the season.

#60 2nd Round DE Kony Ealy

Though Ealy will most likely remain a back-up behind Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy barring injury, he will get snaps every game in passing situations. Some early success will lead to more snaps and a bigger role beyond situational pass rusher.

Predicted Impact: Season long effective situational pass rusher

#148 5th Round CB Bene Benwikere

Even with veteran CBs Antoine Cason and Charles Godfrey on the roster the Panthers will still be trying to figure out the best combination for their nickel and dime packages. In today's NFL the Panthers will employ three CBs more than any other formation. Benwikere could fill the nickel CB spot given his athleticism and ability to play zone coverages. He will need to work on his strength, tackling and physicality so he might be better suited to the outside though he will get a chance to play in the slot. Benwikere also has experience playing gunner and jammer on special teams so he could also provide some impact in that phase of the game.

Predicted Impact: Rotational CB with potential special teams impact.

#204 6th Round RB Tyler Gaffney

Barring injury Gaffney will need to make his impact felt on special teams. Yet how long has it been since we went a season without a RB getting injured? If Gaffney can prove to be a reliable pass blocker he could then get a chance on contribute on offense. Otherwise he could be a nice addition to special teams whether it in the kicking game or in coverage.

Predicted Impact: Potential rotational player in event of injury with some possible special teams impact

#128 4th Round SS Tre Boston

Boston appears to be a slightly smaller version of 2013 UDFA Robert Lester. Lester remains in the equation with vets Roman Harper and Thomas DeCoud the likely starters. Outside of several injuries occurring in the secondary I don't see Boston getting a jersey week in and week out. He will need to prove a beast on special teams to make much of an impact in 2014.

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