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NFL Carolina Panthers

2014 NFL Draft: USC WR Marqise Lee Has Potential to be Steve Smith Replacement Carolina Panthers are Looking For

Marqise Lee

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It is apparently clear that at this point in time the Carolina Panthers are making moves to bring in new wide receivers. As they have made no moves towards bringing in a wide receiver during free agency (although DeSean Jackson has been reported as a potential target), the Panthers are putting a lot of stock in the NFL Draft. A wide receiver is a first round must for the Panthers, who need to replace Steve Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandon LaFell. Luckily for Carolina, the draft has plenty of talented wide receivers worthy of a first-round pick. Among those is USC Junior Marqise Lee.

Early on in the offseason it appeared that the Panthers’ best interest would be try and take a large, over the middle receiver who could out jump defensive backs and pull in short yardage catches. This type of player would open up the middle of the field and allow Smith to work one on one down field by providing an extra offensive threat. However, now that Smith is no longer on the team, Carolina needs to find another speed receiver who can get down field and turn big plays. Lee is a perfect fit for that role.

While he battled a knee injury in the 2013 season, which greatly affected his stats, Lee’s first two collegiate years were very strong. He recorded over 1,000 receiving yards in his freshman and sophomore seasons while also scoring 11 and 14 touchdowns. That potential is something that Carolina should be very intrigued by. However, even more importantly, Lee also recorded a 4.52 time in the 40-yard dash at the combine which shows his propensity for speed.

Lee’s early potential mixed with his playmaking ability and speed makes him just what the Panthers are looking for in the draft. He is a talented wideout who can haul in touchdowns and stretch a field. Lee would be a great target for Cam Newton’s arm and fill the role that Smith played quite well.