First Round: Kelvin Benjamin, WR
Stats against Falcons: 9 receptions, 109 yards, 1 touchdown
Season Totals: 52 receptions, 768 yards, 8 touchdowns
Analysis: The rookie wide receiver has been on a tear as of late, with three touchdowns in two games. He led the team in all three receiving categories (receptions, yards, touchdowns) against the Falcons. Benjamin leads all rookie receivers in touchdowns and is second in receptions and receiving yards. It is clear that Benjamin has become Newton’s number one target, particularly in the red zone, and certainly is in the discussion for Rookie of the Year.
Second Round: Kony Ealy, DE
Stats against Falcons: 1 tackle
Season Totals: 5 solo tackles, 9 total tackles, one sack
Analysis: The second round rookie had another disappointing game, this time against the Falcons. This should have been the perfect game for Ealy to make an impact on the game since he was going up against a weak Falcons’ offensive line. However, the production wasn’t there and the season looks to be a disappointment for the defensive end.
Third Round: Trai Turner, OG
Stats against Falcons: Start at Right Guard
Season Totals: Four starts at G
Analysis: The rookie guard made his return to the football field against the Falcons after missing the previous three games due to injury. Turner’s return was short-lived after the first series when he missed his assignment and Cam Newton was on the unfortunate end of that. Turner was replaced by Chris Scott however did see time later in the game, playing a little over a third of the game.
Fourth Round: Tre Boston, S
Stats against Falcons: None
Season Totals: 7 solo tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 12 total tackles
Analysis: After getting the start against the Saints, Boston has seen his playing time drop off from 10 snaps against the Eagles to nothing against the Falcons. Boston is a strong hitter and good tackler however he has a ways to go in learning the position. The rookie should probably see a few snaps here and there the rest of the season and be ready to compete for a starting spot next year.
Fifth Round: Bene Benwikere, CB
Stats against Falcons: None/Out with Injury
Season Totals: 7 solo tackles, 8 total tackles, 2 passes defended, one fumble recovery
Analysis: The Panthers desperately need Benwikere back to help tighten up the secondary. Right now the team doesn’t have anyone capable of playing the nickel position, although Colin Jones has improved the past few weeks. Hopefully, the fifth round pick will be fully healthy after the bye week and finish out the final five weeks of the NFL season.
Undrafted: Philly Brown, WR
Stats against Falcons: 1 reception, 47 yards, 1 touchdown
Season Totals: 12 receptions, 160 yards, 1 touchdown
Analysis: Philly Brown’s role in this offense could see a major boost after the bye week. The release of Jason Avant has now created some playing time that should go to Brown. The rookie wide receiver from Ohio State is a speedy wide receiver that caught his first NFL touchdown against Atlanta. The Panthers can only hope this is a sign of things to come.
Undrafted: David Foucault, OT
Stats against Falcons: None
Season Totals: One start at LT, allowed three QB sacks, one QB hit, nine QB hurries (according to Pro Football Focus)
Analysis: After the undrafted rookie was thrown in to the fire at left tackle against New Orleans, he has not gotten back on the field. Foucault has a lot of potential however he is still very raw and needs time to develop to an NFL offensive tackle. Depending on what the Panthers do in the offseason, I could see Foucault competing for the right tackle position in 2015.
Undrafted: Andrew Norwell, OG
Stats against Falcons: Start at LG, allowed two QB hurries (according to Pro Football Focus)
Season Totals: Four starts at Guard, allowed one QB sack, eight QB hurries (according to Pro Football Focus)
Analysis: Aside from Kelvin Benjamin, Andrew Norwell could end up being the next best player from this rookie class. The undrafted rookie from Ohio State has bounced between the left and right guard positions the past few weeks and seems to be improving each week. Norwell should stay in the Panthers starting lineup for the rest of the season and be a key contributor in 2015.