The Carolina Panthers officially started OTAs this week (Organized Team Activities) and with that discussion turns now towards who will make the 53-man team come August. I’ll break down candidates who I believe will make the team and some players who may be sent packing.
To preface this, I believe that almost all of the draft picks will make the cut, so I won’t get into guys like Kelvin Benjamin. He’ll be on the day one roster.
Tyler Gaffney, RB Stanford: In my article last week, I stated that this draft pick didn’t make much sense given the Panthers depth at the position. Needless to say I’m still scratching my head over this one. Gaffney will have to prove that he brings a unique skill set that the other running backs on the Panthers roster don’t already have. Physically, he doesn’t differ much from the two back tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Carolina picked him because he fit the mold of the tough, physical downhill runner they’re looking for. He will have an uphill fight to make the team.
Prediction: Gaffney makes the team. He probably won’t see the field in the I formation but his talents could very well land him a spot on special teams or even the scout team. If Gaffney proves successful, Kenjon Barner could be out of a job.
Undrafted Free Agents
Corey “Philly” Brown, WR Ohio State: This could end up being a big steal for the Carolina Panthers. Brown ended his college career at Ohio State on a high note nabbing 123 catches for 1,440 yards and 13 touchdowns in his last two season. Given the question marks surrounding the Panthers at receiver, Brown could see some reps right away.
Prediction: Makes the Team
Carrington Byndon, CB Texas: Byndon flew under the radar for much of his time at Texas and given his struggle with physical receivers in the Big 12 it’s easy to see why. While Byndon has great track speed running a 4.35 40 at his pro day but he also struggled with run support at times. If given some time to develop, he could become a very durable back up in the Carolina secondary.
Prediction: Makes the Team.
Andrew Norwell, OG Ohio State: Could we have two former offensive stars from Ohio State on the same team? It’s a possibility but I don’t believe it’s likely. The Carolina Panthers made it very clear that they are very comfortable with the rotation they have on the offensive line. Norwell’s chances of making the team took a huge blow when Canadien offensive lineman David Foucault was signed to a contract after the team’s rookie mini camp.
Prediction: Gets Cut.
Shaq Rowell, DT WVU: Carolina Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman said you can never have enough pass rushers and that’s certainly true, but with a defensive line like the one the Panthers have, it takes a lot to stand out. Rowell’s tape isn’t stunning but it’s not bad either. He didn’t have a particularly great showing at the combine which could explain why he went undrafted. Rowell will have to shake off those bad workouts and have to learn fast.
Prediction: Gets Cut.
Marcus Lucas, WR Missouri: Lucas had an up and down career at Mizzou, finishing his career with over 1,600 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. He wasn’t targeted as much last season given the emergence of receivers Dorial-Green Beckham and L’Damian Washington. The Panthers like big and physical receivers and Marcus Lucas is just that. He’ll have a lot of competition to compete for snaps but I can see Carolina signing him based on his great hands and size.
Prediction: Makes the team.