Carolina Panthers: Team Must Find Multiple Wide Receivers Early in May Draft

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Carolina Panthers: Team Must Find Multiple Wide Receivers Early in May Draft
Gene J. Puskar

It's been a tumultuous offseason in Carolina as far as the wide receiver position goes.

Not only did the team part ways with Steve Smith, the franchise's all-time leader in career receptions, receiving yardage and receiving touchdowns, but it also lost three receivers to free agency.

Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon will all be playing elsewhere next year.

The team did sign Jason Avant and Jerricho Cotchery, but both moves seemed like they were made out of desperation after the team failed to land players like Hakeem Nicks, Emmanuel Sanders and James Jones.

This has probably left many fans of the Panthers to wonder just what the front office must be thinking.

Cotchery and Avant would likely be the starting receivers if the season were to start today, and that certainly wouldn't strike fear into any of the teams Carolina will face next season.

It would also hinder the development of quarterback Cam Newton, who is coming off a 2013 season in which he set personal bests of completion percentage, touchdown passes and quarterback rating in a single season.

He also committed fewer total turnovers than he had in either of his previous two seasons in the league.

He did this while leading the team to the divisional round of the playoffs, but in order for all of that to continue trending in the right direction, the front office needs to provide him with viable weapons.

The only sense that can be made out of the madness that has turned the wide receiver corps upside down this offseason is the fact that this will be a very deep draft at the position.

It should be no secret what the Panthers are looking for when the draft opens on May 8, but they shouldn't just settle for one wide receiver. They should strike again in either the second or third round as well.

Here are some players they could target.

 

Allen Robinson, Penn State

If Allen Robinson falls to No. 28 in the first round, the Panthers should swoop in and grab him.

Robinson has the chance to be one of the most productive players in the entire draft and could contribute immediately.

At 6'3" and 210 pounds, he is a big, strong receiver who would provide Newton with an ideal target in the intermediate passing game.

In his career at Penn State, he caught 177 passes, including 97 in 2013. He is a streaky player who can be very hard to control at times.

Last season, he caught at least seven passes in 10 of the 12 games the Nittany Lions played.

Perhaps the most exciting part of his game is his ability to run after the catch. He is tough to bring down and can easily turn a five-yard pass into a huge gain.

 

Paul Richardson, Colorado

Paul Richardson is another under-the-radar player, but the team that selects him in May will be very glad it did.

At Colorado, Richardson was responsible for nearly single-handedly winning games for the team in 2013. In fact, without him, the Buffaloes may have gone winless.

Richardson possesses dazzling speed to go with very good hands. Newton would be salivating over throwing this guy a deep ball.

But Richardson is also an intelligent player who knows what it takes to gain separation and run by defenders. On top of that, he is a very good route-runner.

At Colorado, Richardson finished his career with 156 receptions for 2,412 yards. In 2013 against in-state rival Colorado State, he caught 10 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns.

 

Jarvis Landry, LSU

Jarvis Landry is a guy Carolina should be able to find in the second round, maybe even the third.

Known for being a physical wide receiver, Landry would be another guy who could make big plays off short receptions.

He comes with good hands and ball skills and will always fight the defender for the ball. He's not afraid to take a hit.

Last season at LSU as a junior, Landry caught 77 passes. He had a huge game against Georgia last September, catching 10 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown.

Paired with either Richardson or Robinson, Landry would be an excellent choice for the Panthers.

The team has other draft needs, such as offensive line and cornerback, but it must be aggressive and take advantage of a solid class of wide receivers.

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