2014 Stats: 73 receptions, 146 targets, 1,008 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns
Best Game: Week 11 versus Atlanta
Worst Game: Week 9 versus New Orleans
Notes: The rookie out of Florida State was given a tall challenge being thrown in as a number one wide receiver right out of the gate. While he had his moments, both good and bad, it is safe to say that he certainly met that challenge and played at a high level in his first year in the NFL. The most impressive part about Benjamin’s performance his rookie year was that he did it without a real number two wide receiver. The likes of Jason Avant or Jerricho Cotchery never struck fear in opposing defenses and this allowed them to focus more on Benjamin but he still was able to put together solid numbers.
The one issue Benjamin had, and this dates back to his college days, is the dropped passes. Benjamin actually finished the year tied for the most dropped passes in the NFL with ten, according to Sporting Charts. If he can correct this he will be a matchup nightmare for opposing cornerbacks because of his size and speed.
Final Grade: A-
2014 Stats: 48 receptions, 78 targets, 580 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Best Game: Week 15 versus Tampa Bay
Worst Game: Week 10 at Philadelphia
Notes: The fact that the Panthers were relying so heavily on two rookies (Benjamin, Brown) and a second-year player (Bersin) they needed a player like Jerricho Cotchery. The 11-year veteran was almost the opposite of Benjamin in the fact that he was very sure-handed (had only one drop all year) and started to have a bigger role in the offense towards the end of the year because of this. The last three games of the regular season he caught every pass thrown his way, 13 in total, and had his only touchdown of the year in Week 15 against Tampa Bay.
The issue with Cotchery is he doesn’t have that breakaway speed and when he makes a catch is tackled almost immediately. He finished with one of his lowest yards per catch average in his career (12.1 yards per catch).
Final Grade: C+
2014 Stats: 21 receptions, 36 targets, 296 yards, 2 touchdowns
Best Game: Week 3 versus Pittsburgh
Worst Game: Week 15 versus Tampa Bay
Notes: The undrafted rookie from Ohio State showed enough this year to warrant another look in training camp because of his game-changing speed. The thought would have been that after Jason Avant was released that Brown would see an increased amount of looks, which he did, but it didn’t result in receptions. Over the final seven games, Brown had four or more targets in five of those games, compared to only two in the first eight games. However his highest reception total over those final seven games was three, which happened twice. Brown certainly is talented enough to play the position in the NFL and has the speed that teams covet. The Panthers will need to find a way to be more effective with his targets though.
Final Grade: C
2014 Stats: 13 receptions, 20 targets, 151 yards 1 touchdown
Best Game: Week 7 at Green Bay
Worst Game: Wild Card versus Arizona
Notes: Brenton Bersin did not see much time at the wide receiver position and aside from three games (at Cincinnati, at Green Bay, at Philadelphia) he didn’t receive more than one target in any game. Bersin primarily saw his playing time on special teams where he seemed to struggle at times securing the ball, like the Wild Card game against the Cardinals. It will be interesting to see what role Bersin has on the Panthers heading into next season.
Final Grade: D+