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NFL Carolina Panthers

Predicting the Impact of Every Carolina Panthers 2014 NFL Draft Pick

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Predicting the Impact of Every Carolina Panthers 2014 NFL Draft Pick

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of a surprising 12-4 season and an NFC South title, the Carolina Panthers enter the 2014 season with very high expectations. They’ve had a bit of a bumpy offseason, however, so it will be important that they get contributions from their rookie class. Here are some modest predictions for each one of the Panthers’ 2014 draft picks.

WR Kelvin Benjamin (28)

Kelvin Benjamin Carolina Panthers Rookie Minicamp
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WR Kelvin Benjamin (28)

Kelvin Benjamin Carolina Panthers Rookie Minicamp
Getty Images

For the first time since 2000, the Panthers’ receiving corps will be without franchise icon Steve Smith. Carolina also lost Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon. Therefore, it will be imperative for Benjamin to make an immediate impact. The former Florida State standout will likely start the season as Carolina’s No. 1 wide receiver. While very raw, Benjamin certainly has plenty of talent.

DE Kony Ealy (60)

kony ealy missouri tigers
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

DE Kony Ealy (60)

kony ealy missouri tigers
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Ealy enters a very desirable situation in Carolina. The Panthers have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, led by studs Greg Hardy, Charles Johnson and Star Lotulelei, so Ealy will not be asked to do too much right away. That said, Ealy was given a first-round grade by many experts, and if he finds some consistency, he could end up being a steal.

G Trai Turner (92)

trai turner lsu tigers
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

G Trai Turner (92)

trai turner lsu tigers
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers have some questions along their offensive line, so it wouldn’t be a shock if Turner saw some key minutes as a rookie. Like Kelvin Benjamin, Turner is a bit raw, as many people were surprised that he decided to enter the draft early. However, he has natural upside and could wind up as an important piece in the Panthers’ offense.

SS Tre Boston (128)

Tre Boston Miami at North Carolina
Bon Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

SS Tre Boston (128)

Tre Boston Miami at North Carolina
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

While Carolina’s secondary played pretty well last season, they needed an influx of talent this offseason, and Boston was the first of two defensive backs the Panthers selected in 2014. He might not be ready to play on defense right away, but Boston’s energy and athleticism could land him a spot on the Panthers’ special teams unit.

CB Bene Benwikere (148)

bene benwikere san jose state spartans
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

CB Bene Benwikere (148)

bene benwikere san jose state spartans
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

While he comes from a fairly small program in San Jose State, Benwikere is no stranger to matching up against big-time receivers; he was a high school teammate of former USC Trojans and current NFL players Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. Despite his interesting background, it is unlikely that the fifth-round pick will see much playing time in 2014.

RB Tyler Gaffney (204)

tyler gaffney stanford cardinal
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

RB Tyler Gaffney (204)

tyler gaffney stanford cardinal
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

While not particularly quick or agile, Gaffney is a very tough runner who will endear himself to Panthers fans if given the chance. It will be interesting to see when that might happen. DeAngelo Williams is a solid, yet unspectacular starter, so there will be touches to be had behind him. Gaffney will have to fight hard to see those touches, though.