According to the Carolina Panthers’ website the team signed five of the players who tried out this past weekend in the team’s rookie minicamp. The focus was on the offense with four players on that side of the ball being signed.
Defensive end Rakim Cox was the only defensive player to earn a contract while they signed tight end Jamie Childers, guard Jordan McCray, center Ronald Patrick, and fullback Lee Ward on the offensive side of the ball. This is what you have to know about each player:
According to nfldraftscout.com, he was signed by the Vikings prior to the 2014 season but was waived in August and joined the Miami Dolphins for nine days before being waived prior to the start of the season.
While at Villanova he was named to the first-team All-CAA in 2012 and 2013, starting 46 of 47 games in four collegiate seasons. One stat that stands out and could be a reason he makes the team is his special teams play. During his college career he blocked four kicks, including two extra points.
The special teams unit has been a point of emphasis and if he proves he can contribute in that part of the game, he gives himself a better chance of making the roster.
College: Coastal Carolina
Childers spent the past season on the Buffalo Bills practice squad as he continues to try and transition to the tight end position. In college he played quarterback for Coastal Carolina. He is a big body target at 6-4, 250 pounds however with Greg Olsen, Ed Dickson, and Brandon Williams already on the roster he will have a tough time making the final roster.
College: Central Florida
The guard out of Central Florida was signed to the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad last year. He has a twin brother (Justin) who played guard on the Central Florida offensive line and was responsible for protecting current Jacksonville Jaguars’ quarterback, Blake Bortles. Similar to Childers, McCray could have a tough time making the roster with second year players Trai Turner and Andrew Norwell finishing strong and veterans Amini Silatolu and Fernando Velasco already on the roster.
College: South Carolina
Patrick was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad towards the end of last season. He played guard at the University of South Carolina but the Panthers’ article listed him as a center. This is one player who wouldn’t surprise me as making some noise this offseason. There isn’t as much depth at the center position as the other positions and the fact that he has played guard makes him a little more valuable.
During the 2013 season, Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting wrote this from Patrick’s game against Central Florida:
“Senior guard Ronald Patrick played a pivotal role in South Carolina’s run gam success on the road versus a tough Central Florida team. Quick and aggressive to his targets when stepping down on nose tackles or reaching 3-techniques, Patrick secured and turned open multiple holes as the playside blocker. On other occasions, Patrick also showed mobility and blocking skills on the move. Pulling, locating and securing targets downfield, Patrick was sound with his angles, balanced downfield and decisive in attacking defenders. All in all it was an excellent performance for a player that is working towards securing a late round draft selection.”
The fullback out of Stanford is the only player signed who is a true rookie and could be the most intriguing prospect. Last year he only had one rushing attempt for 11 yards and two receptions for five yards and one touchdown.
The reason this is so intriguing is that Mike Tolbert is entering the final year of his contract and is getting up there in age. Ward is two inches taller than Tolbert and comes from a run heavy offense in Stanford. If Ward can prove he is able to be a reliable pass catcher out of the backfield, this could become an interesting training camp battle.