First Round: Kelvin Benjamin, WR
Stats: 21 receptions, 329 yards, 82.3 receving yards per game, 3 touchdowns
Analysis: By far the star of this draft class has been Kelvin Benjamin, who has been a welcomed addition for Cam Newton. It is expected that rookies will have their ups and downs in their rookie season but over the first four games, Benjamin has been pretty steady. In three out of his four games he has had at least five receptions, 75 yards, and a touchdown. This pairing of Newton and Benjamin could be very good for Carolina for a long time to come.
Second Round: Kony Ealy, DE
Stats: 2 assisted tackles
Analysis: With Greg Hardy out, there has been a significant void left in the pass rushing department. It would be expected that this should set up perfectly for Ealy, whose strength was getting to the quarterback. The problem was that he was not a finished product coming out of college and isn’t quite developed yet at the position. He has been primarily used as a situational rusher and has yet to have that breakout game.
Third Round: Trai Turner, OG
Stats: Getting playing time at right guard
Analysis: The rookie guard has been rotating at the right guard position with Fernando Velasco. He has played pretty well and I would imagine as the season progresses, Turner will find himself more regularly on the field. Based on how he has played to this point, he should be the full-time starter by the end of the season.
Fourth Round: Tre Boston, S
Analysis: The safety out of UNC has not been able to get on the field this season. Boston spent most of training camp and preseason recovering from sports hernia surgery in June. He was recently inactive for the Baltimore Ravens game on Sunday. I would imagine that he will be ready to go and on the active roster sometime in the coming weeks.
Fifth Round: Bene Benwikere, CB
Stats: 5 solo tackles, 2 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery
Analysis: The fifth round cornerback has seen significant playing time over the first four games, primarily playing the nickel cornerback position. However the play of his career came in the fourth quarter of his first game when he recovered a fumble in the final two minutes of the game to secure Carolina’s first win. He is sure to have his rookie moments but he certainly has shown a lot of promise these first four games.
Sixth Round: Tyler Gaffney, RB
Stats: Out for season with knee injury
Analysis: The Panthers certainly could use the rookie running back right now with the injuries they have suffered at the position. However when Gaffney went down with the knee injury during training camp, the team waived him and he was picked up by the Patriots. Before the season started, the Patriots placed the rookie running back on their IR.
Be sure to stop by the message board and let me know your opinion of the rookies. Who has impressed you so far? Who has disappointed? What are your expectations for them the rest of the year?