Panthers: Dwayne Jarrett to Fight TEs, RBs, Marcus Monk for Catches

Daniel PriceContributor IMay 27, 2009

PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 28: Dwayne Jarrett #80 of the Carolina Panthers checks his position with a official while playing the Pittsburgh Steelers during a preseason NFL game on August 28, 2008 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Who is the Carolina Panthers' No. 1 wide receiver? Duh! There's no question there—It's Steve Smith, for any of you non-Panthers people out there.

What about No. 2? That answer is just as easy to come up with. It's Muhsin Muhammad, who returned to Charlotte last season after a three-year hiatus in Chicago.

No. 3? With the Feb. 25 release of D.J. Hackett, it's third-year man Dwayne Jarrett out of Southern Cal.

Jarrett has hardly had time to build an NFL resume, fighting Hackett for every opportunity he got last season, when he managed just 10 receptions for 118 yards and no touchdowns. Still, it was better than his six-reception, 73-yard rookie campaign.

The prototypical NFL wideout, Jarrett stands at 6'4" and weighs 218 pounds. But in an offense that must seem like one that hardly utilizes the pass—Delhomme threw 414 balls last season in 16 games, while Trojan QB John David Booty threw 436 in 13 games Jarrett's junior season (his last)—Jarrett has yet to put up the kind of numbers many thought he would in the league.

Perhaps with Hackett's release—and the loss of his 13 catches and 181 yards in 2008—Jarrett will put up quasi-respectable numbers in 2009. At least he might get a reception in more than half of the Panthers' games, a feat he couldn't accomplish last season.

The only thing standing in the way? Well, in addition to the offense being run first, it's also a look-to-Smith-second, third, and fourth system. When Delhomme fixes his down-field glare on someone not wearing No. 89, it's usually Muhammad.

So having the quarterback out of the bayou even look his way is an accomplishment in and of itself, not to mention being open.

Did I mention there is another road block for Jarrett in Charlotte?

Second-year offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson isn't shy about using his backs and tight ends as receivers, leading a running back (DeAngelo Williams) and two tight ends (Jeff King and Dante Rosario) to better receiving years than Jarrett in 2008.

Williams hauled in 22 balls for 121 yards and two touchdowns, with King and Rosario each tallying around 20 receptions and 200 yards. Tailback Jonathan Stewart also nabbed eight receptions for 47 yards.

Billed a possession receiver in the mold of fellow former-Trojan (and former-Panther) Keyshawn Johnson, Jarrett can't be happy seeing non-wideouts filling that role for Delhomme.

If he is going to impress his ability upon Davidson and Delhomme at any point, it's not going to be able to wait until the regular season. He's going to have to show his ability in training camp and the preseason.

But he won't be alone. Newly acquired Marcus Monk, an NFL novice without a pro stat to his name since being selected in the seventh round by Chicago in 2008, was signed shortly after an impressive pro day at his alma mater, Arkansas. And he isn't about to let this newest NFL opportunity slip through his fingers that easily.

Still, with Monk never setting foot on an NFL field for a regular-season game, it mostly will be King, Rosario, and Williams that Jarrett will be competing with for the looks of Delhomme.

But regardless of whether he convinces Delhomme he is a star ready to shine—he might be, but not in this system and not with the receivers ahead of him—he should have his best year to date. Look for 20-30 receptions and around 300 yards from Williams in 2009, if not more.