A Look at the 2019 Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver Corps

Panthers Wide Receiver Corps

After finishing 7-9 last season, the Carolina Panthers had plenty of work to do in the off-season if they wanted to put together a competitive team. One of the most addressed positions this off-season happened to be at wide receiver, a position that was very young but looked promising in 2018. The Panthers currently have 11 wide receivers on their roster as the team starts OTAs and that number will have to decrease as we get closer to the start of the 2019 season. The group consists of both dynamic young weapons and savvy proven veterans meaning no one should feel like they have a guaranteed roster spot. During the Ron Rivera era, the Panthers have never opened up with more than five receivers on their opening day roster. With that in mind, we will break down the pros and cons of each member of the Panthers wide receiver corps and determine if they are worthy of one of the five spots.

Making the Case for the Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver Corps

D.J. Moore

Pros

D.J. Moore might be the only wide receiver who is guaranteed a roster spot in 2019. The 2018 first-round pick became an important chess piece in Norv Turner‘s offense. He finished the year with 55 receptions, 172 rushing yards, two touchdowns and contributed in the return game as well. Moore, who just turned 21 years old, displayed an elite level of versatility and elusiveness with the ball in his hands. The receiver lined up all over the field and showed great toughness when running with the ball in his hands. Moore has the potential to be the franchise’s best wide receiver since Steve Smith.

Cons

Despite his explosiveness, Moore was kept off the field in certain situations due to his lack of ball security. The rookie coughed up the ball four times last season, all coming at inopportune times. Improving ball security has to be one of Moore’s top priorities this off-season if he hopes to obtain a larger role in the Panthers offense in 2019.

Probability of making Carolina’s Opening Day Roster: 99.9 percent

Curtis Samuel

Pros

Along with Moore, Curtis Samuel provided plenty of spark for the Panthers offense last season. The second-year wide receiver lined up in the backfield, participated in the return game and emerged as a reliable receiving option towards the end of the season. The former Buckeye finished with 39 receptions, 494 receiving yards, five receiving touchdowns, 84 rushing yards, and two rushing touchdowns. Like Moore, Samuel’s ability to contribute in a variety of different ways makes Carolina’s offense that much better. His vision as a ball carrier is what sets him apart from the rest, such as this play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Cons

One of the only knocks on Samuel is whether or not he can stay healthy for a full season. During his rookie year, Samuel dealt with a couple of minor injuries during the early parts of the season before finding his groove. However, the receiver fractured his ankle during a game in November that kept him out the rest of the year. Before the 2018 season, Samuel had a procedure done to fix an irregular heartbeat that kept him out of the team’s first three games. Samuel’s injury history is a cause for concern because he has proven to be a special weapon when he is on the field.

Probability of making Carolina’s Opening Day Roster: 96 percent

Torrey Smith

Pros

As far as experience goes, the Panthers don’t have a ton of it at the wide receiver position. Ninth-year veteran Torrey Smith is the only receiver on the roster to play in a Super Bowl (twice) and has the most career games under his belt. That experience could be extremely valuable to a group of young receivers if the Panthers find themselves in the playoffs. Despite the lack of production in 2018, Smith came up huge for the Panthers in a few big moments such as this catch and run on fourth and 10 during Carolina’s comeback against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Cons

Smith’s lack of production last season was alarming. The receiver finished with 17 receptions, 190 yards and two touchdowns, all career-lows by a large margin. Smith was set to receive $5 million in 2019 which felt like way too high of a price tag for minimal production. However, the Panthers and Smith restructured his contract to where his base salary will only be $3 million in 2019. With a much more team friendly deal, the odds of Smith making the final roster increase by a significant amount.

Probability of making Carolina’s Opening Day Roster: 75 percent

Jarius Wright

Pros

Jarius Wright was signed last off-season after spending his first six years in Minnesota. The receiver has a lot of familiarity with Turner so the signing made a lot of sense. Despite having only four or more receptions in two different games, the receiver was still a reliable weapon in Carolina’s offense. Wright finished the year with 43 receptions, 447 yards, and one touchdown. Wright may never wow anyone with his statistics but he finds ways to get open on third downs and in key moments.

Cons

Wright is on a team-friendly deal and is due $2.46 million in 2019. The receiver has never been an issue on any team he’s played for and no coach has ever spoken badly about him. If he has a con, it’s that he is an average receiver and you know what you are going to get from him. Unless one of the new receivers show plenty of potential during training camp, Wright has a good chance to make Carolina’s roster.

Probability of making Carolina’s Opening Day Roster: 75 percent

Chris Hogan

Pros

Carolina signed Chris Hogan this off-season with the hopes that he would beat out Smith to be the veteran of the position group. Hogan has seven years of NFL experience including the last three seasons in New England with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. With two Super Bowl rings under his belt, he could provide quality veteran leadership to a group of young receivers. Hogan’s big game experience could certainly provide a boost to Carolina’s offense in a deep playoff run.

Cons

Many believe Hogan is a product of New England’s system. In his first four seasons with the Buffalo Bills, he recorded 87 receptions, six touchdowns and only started six games. It is uncertain whether or not Hogan can be productive in another team’s offense.

Probability of making Carolina’s Opening Day Roster: 50 percent

Aldrick Robinson

Pros

In May, the Panthers signed six-year veteran Aldrick Robinson. Robinson played last season with the Minnesota Vikings and recorded 17 receptions, 231 yards, and five touchdowns. He is a natural speed burner and has the potential to take the top off any defense every time he’s on the field.

Cons

At 5’10” weighing 185 pounds, Robinson has a similar body type and skill set to three receivers that were on Carolina’s roster last year (Moore, Samuel, and Wright). The odds of the Panthers carrying four players with the same skill set and body type are slim, so Robinson will have to really turn some heads to earn himself a roster spot.

Probability of making Carolina’s Opening Day Roster: 50 percent

Rashad Ross

Pros

The fall of the AAF sent dozens of jobless players into the free agent market and the Panthers jumped on the opportunity to sign Arizona Hotshots standout Rashad Ross. In the AAF’s inaugural season, Ross finished third overall in receptions (36), second in receiving yards (583) and first in touchdowns (7). The receiver spent three seasons in the NFL as a kickoff returner and took one to the house in 2015 for the Washington Redskins. His speed and vision as a returner could drastically help a Panthers team that has been lacking in that area.

Cons

The AAF was significantly behind the NFL from a talent standpoint so Ross’ statistics may look like a fluke. In addition to that, NFL teams now are looking for special teams players to contribute to the team in multiple ways. Gone are the days where a team would carry a player to only be the return specialist. Ross will have to show that he can contribute either on offense or on another special teams unit to earn himself a roster spot.

Probability of making Carolina’s Opening Day Roster: 40 percent

Terry Godwin

Pros

The Panthers used their 2019 seventh-round pick on Georgia’s wide receiver Terry Godwin. Godwin plays with a lot of tenacity despite being undersized and won a lot of 50-50 balls. He displayed really great footwork along the sidelines and is tough to bring down in the open field.

Cons

When watching Godwin’s tape, he reminds you a little bit of Moore, Samuel, and even Robinson. He is similar in size and that may cause him to get lost in the shuffle. As mentioned earlier, the odds of the Panthers carrying four receivers or more of the same skill set and size are slim. Godwin will have an uphill battle to make the final roster.

Probability of making Carolina’s Opening Day Roster: 35 percent

DeAndrew White

Pros

DeAndrew White has bounced around from one practice squad to another during his short career. He only has three career receptions but he’s viewed as a return specialist and has 11 total returns under his belt. White brings explosiveness to the return game and will compete for the spot.

Cons

White has struggled to make a 53-man roster and will have his work cut out for him as he will have to beat out the likes of Moore, Ross, and others for the return specialist spot.

Probability of making Carolina’s Opening Day Roster: 15 percent

Andre Levrone

Pros

At 6’3″ and 222 pounds, Andre Levrone is a big target that had plenty of deep ball success at the college level. The Panthers have yet to find Cam Newton a big receiver during his career and a player like Levrone could help expand the offense.

Cons

Levrone was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Baltimore Ravens in 2018 and did not make the final roster. With a year off from football and limited knowledge of the route tree, Levrone may find himself battling for a spot on the practice squad rather than the final roster.

Probability of making Carolina’s Opening Day Roster: 10 percent

Damion Jeanpierre

Pros

After the NFL Draft, the Panthers signed undrafted free agent Damion Jeanpierre, a big-body receiver from Nicholls State. Many considered him as one of the best small-school receiver prospects in this year’s draft class due to the brilliant plays he made at the college level. He averaged 18.2 yards per receptions and brings an elite level of explosiveness once the ball is in his hands.

Cons

Jeanpierre was not invited to participate at the NFL Combine nor one of the college bowl games. His knowledge of the route tree could use some polishing and he will have to compete against a much higher talent level than he did in college. Like Levrone, Jeanpierre will most likely be competing for a spot on the practice squad.

Probability of making Carolina’s Opening Day Roster: 10 percent

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