Wide receiver has long been an issue the Panthers have delayed in addressing or not addressed properly. Previous draft picks at the position have included Brandon LaFell, Armanti Edwards and David Gettis. Only LaFell remains with the team and has yet to really establish himself as a sound No. 2 receiver.
Carolina could look at both the draft and free agency to fill this role. Although Domenik Hixon disappointed for the most part, he did have the game-winning touchdown grab against New Orleans. However, in a league that demands consistency, he may be out of a job despite his clutch catch. Just ask former New York Giants receiver David Tyree.
Riley Cooper (Philadelphia Eagles)
Controversy aside, Cooper stepped up in a big way after the Eagles lost Jeremy Maclin for the season. He had 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. Prior to this season, Cooper was merely a third- or fourth-string wide receiver who only started 10 games between 2010 and 2012.
He proved he can be a reliable target on the field, and if the Eagles don't bring him back, he could be a possible target for the Panthers. However, after coming off a great year, his contract demands may be more than what Carolina is willing to offer.
Devin Hester (Chicago Bears)
Hester has been a mainstay with the Bears for a long time. He has been more renowned for his kick- and punt-return prowess than anything else. However, he has been inserted into the Chicago offense on occasion. But he did not contribute to that unit in 2013 and may seek greener pastures in free agency.
Carolina appealed to Ted Ginn Jr. last season, as he not only got to be a big part on special teams, but he put together a decent season in the offense. Hester would allow the Panthers to add more speed to their offense and, if combined with both Ginn and Steve Smith, it is hard to imagine not one one them being open downfield.
Hester is still a force on kick returns as he averaged 27.6 yards per return last season, which was the second best mark of his career. Teaming him up with Ginn would force kickers to boot the ball out of the end zone as each man has the ability to take the return deep.
Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State)
At 6'5”, 235 pounds, what is not to like about Benjamin? He is the ideal receiver the Panthers would love to have since Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans will no doubt be off the board late in the first round. During the Seminoles title run of 2013, Benjamin caught 54 passes for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns. He practically doubled his production from the year before. It is time for Carolina to begin a new era at wide receiver, and it could start with Benjamin.
Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)
Slightly smaller (6'3”, 209 lbs) than Benjamin, Matthews is still an ideal receiver with size the Panthers could pursue on draft day. The young man could help himself tremendously if he has a great combine and pro day.
He was a great asset for the Commodores and should be able to do the same for Carolina. Based on production, Matthews had a better season than Benjamin, despite only scoring half as many times (seven touchdowns). He caught 112 passes for 1,477 yards in his senior year. His steady improvement over his four-year collegiate career suggests he is probably one of the most NFL-ready receivers in the draft.