Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver Stock Watch
The Carolina Panthers will be taking a few weeks off before training camp convenes at the end of July. The offense will be counted on to be the team's strongest asset, which will only happen if the wide receivers step up. Many have suggested the Panthers needed to add a top receiver to complement Steve Smith, but the only additions have been the signings of Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon.
While there still is a lot of time to make evaluations on the current crop of receivers in this year's camp, it's worth a look at the stock each one brings to the roster. Carolina will need to see these guys step up and give Cam Newton plenty of options during the season.
Here is a look at each wide receiver's stock and where they stand upon entering camp.
Since the stock watch will be focused on the more notable players on the team, the only wide receivers featured here would have had to play a full year as a member of the Carolina Panthers or any other professional team. Essentially, anyone who has a year in which they participated in a NFL game will be evaluated.
There will be no undrafted free-agent signings or waiver pickups listed here. The following players will be exempt from this slideshow:
Years in League: 13
Two things we know about Steve Smith: He is the best wide receiver on the Carolina roster, and he plays with a very high level of intensity.
There is no doubt about what Smith can do on the field, and he has thrived with Cam Newton under center.
He has put together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since the young quarterback was named the team's starter and should do the same again this year. If Newton can find ways to get the ball to him without forcing the issue, Smith could have another spectacular season.
However, a lot will depend on the receivers behind him and their ability to draw the double-teams from Smith so he can be in more one-on-one situations. Regardless of what happens, a healthy Smith should be in line to catch at least 75 passes and should have no trouble getting to 1,000 yards receiving.
Years in League: Four
Some feel that Brandon LaFell isn't the kind of receiver to be filling the No. 2 slot, but if you look at his stats, he continues to grow into a quality possession receiver.
He has seen increases in receiving yards and touchdowns since his rookie season. Based on the growth of Cam Newton and his increasing role in the offense, he could be primed for a breakout season. If he can haul in at least 60 passes this year, he could boost his receiving yards to around the 800 mark.
LaFell may not be the fastest guy on the field, but he is capable of breaking out for a long score. Of course, it helped to have a timely block delivered by Steve Smith, but he has those tendencies for the big play.
Look for him to get a few more targets this season, and his production overall should increase considerably.
Years in League: Seven
Domenik Hixon was brought in by new general manager Dave Gettleman. While he served primarily as a backup with the New York Giants, he should see an increase in his role with the Carolina Panthers.
Despite appearing in 13 games for the Giants last season, 2012 was arguably his best to date. Had he played in every game, he may have put up numbers similar to Brandon LaFell last year.
It's still unknown what his purpose will be this upcoming season. But considering the Panthers need a veteran presence in the offense, he could see a lot more of the field than he did while in New York.
If the Carolina offense is to take off in the passing game, Hixon will be one reason for it. In a best-case scenario, Hixon will be a quality third receiving option.
Ted Ginn Jr.
Years in League: Seven
Ted Ginn Jr. has been more of a special teams threat than an offensive one during his NFL career. Entering his seventh season with his third team, Ginn will try to make a difference as a receiver in conjunction with his return skills.
Ginn's best season as a receiver was in 2008 when he caught 56 passes for 790 yards. However, he only scored twice and has never had more than two receiving touchdowns in a year.
While he should be the key cog of the special teams game plan, he has been working hard in OTAs and minicamp to find a spot in the Carolina offense. If that happens, the Panthers will have another speedy receiver opposite Steve Smith for Cam Newton to find on Sundays.
Right now, it is too early to determine just how well Ginn will fare with his new team. His stock could go either way.
Years in League: Four
The good news about David Gettis is that he has the potential to be a good receiver in the NFL. He proved that with a solid rookie campaign in which he caught 37 passes for 508 yards from three different quarterbacks. Also, he found the end zone three times.
That is where the good things end for the young Baylor product.
He has been spending the past two seasons battling injuries. If he is able to stay healthy, he will be pitted in a tight battle for one of the few remaining receiver slots. Because of his health concerns, this could be a make-or-break year for Gettis.
If he has a good camp and shines during the preseason, he should lock up a spot on the 53-man roster. However, if he is unable to stay healthy or fails to produce during those August games, he may be shown the door.
Like the other young receivers on this team, Gettis will be pushed. It will be up to him to determine his destiny.
Years in League: Four
Stock: Rising (for now)
After the season and prior to the start of OTAs, it seemed as though Armanti Edwards' career was all but done. During his first three seasons as a pro, he has failed to be the multi-purpose weapon the Panthers envisioned when they picked him in the third round of the 2010 draft.
He has not made an impact on special teams and has been mostly quiet on offense. If anything, he has caught the ire of the Carolina fanbase. Needless to say, this will be Edwards' last chance to make a name for himself.
However, Edwards will not quietly into the night.
During the OTAs and minicamp, he has been playing well, and his efforts have not gone unnoticed. While it is good to know there have been some good things going for him, the real test will come in training camp and actual games.
Fortunately for Edwards, he isn't limited to just a wide receiver role. If he can show some flash on special teams, he could be in the running for a spot on the kick or punt return teams.
Years in League: Two
When Joe Adams was drafted in the fourth round of last year's draft, he was expected to improve the special teams unit on punt returns. However, he did not pan out the way the team had hoped and even lost his job as the return man at one point.
He was not a factor in the offense, either.
Adams only caught one pass in nine games for seven yards. With his speed, he was projected to add a little spark to the running game, but he only carried the ball three times for 13 yards.
Considering his issues at returning punts and his lack of effectiveness within the offense, Adams could be the odd man out. He will need to show some signs of progress if he is to have a legitimate chance at making the final roster.
Years in League: Three
Kealoha Pilares is much like Joe Adams; he has a lot of special teams potential when it comes to returning kicks but unlike Adams, he has had more success in the offense. Of course, that success was just slightly better than what Adams accomplished when he was in the offense. After all, he did score a touchdown.
There hasn't been too much said about Pilares during the offseason workouts but he will be fighting just as hard for a wide receiver slot when the final cuts are made. He played in eight games last season before being placed on the injured reserve with a right shoulder injury.
It is difficult to gauge the stock of Pilares at this point but given what he has shown in the past, he has a lot of upside in either special teams or in the offense. Still, he will have to battle Armanti Edwards, Joe Adams and David Gettis during camp and hopefully outperform them during the preseason games.