The Carolina Panthers again refused to draft a wide receiver in the draft this year, and the repercussions became evident on Sunday in Phoenix.
While Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandon Lafell have played well so far this season, they don’t have the talent or the skills to consistently get open and mask the deficiencies in Cam Newton‘s game, while also compensating for the declining production of Steve Smith.
Lafell had some clutch catches against the Cardinals, but he dropped a critical fourth-down pass, and neither he nor Ginn could get open in the second half, forcing Newton to hold on to the ball and leading to turnovers.
The fact of the matter is that Smith is getting old and its starting to show. Not that he isn’t a good receiver, but he simply can’t play at the level he has over the past 10 years, which is exactly what the Panthers need. No one on the Panthers roster can fill that spot right now, and the no. 2 spot is shaky as well.
The Panthers need to seriously consider picking up someone over the offseason, but the projected market for the offseason doesn’t look great in terms of receivers. That means the Panthers will have to draft someone, a move they should have made a long time ago.
The Panthers need a receiving playmaker as soon as possible if Newton is going to stick around and have any kind of success. To find that kind of talent, they will surely have to go in the first round, and given how the Panthers’ season is going so far, they should have an early pick.
The Panthers would love to get a dynamic speedster like Sammy Watkins or Marquis Lee, but both players will be hot commodities and may not be available for the Panthers.
Because of this, the Panthers may choose to draft a corner in the first round and get a receiver later in a the draft. In that case, I think the best fit for the Panthers would be Allen Robinson from Penn State, who has the size and route-running ability consistently get open and make tough catches, while also becoming a much-needed threat in the red zone.
The Panthers must do everything they can to get a talent like Watkins or Lee, but don’t be surprised if they settle for Robinson.