There may not have been a player who turned more heads than Carolina Panthers' second-round draft pick Devin Funchess. With Kelvin Benjamin limited on the practice field, Funchess got a chance to showcase exactly what he can do.
First thing that stands out when you see Funchess is his size (6’4” and 232 pounds). According to Panthers.com Max Henson, the coaching staff has been equally impressed with his intelligence. He has demonstrated early on an understanding of all three wide receiver positions.
Panthers’ wide receiver coach Ricky Proehl said about Funchess, “He's been amazing learning our offense. Now we have to fine tune it on the field."
The combination of Funchess and last year’s star rookie Benjamin should be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. It will make matters even worse if the coaching staff can move Funchess around in formations. The rookie wide receiver is off to a great start in his NFL career.
Aside from the massive contract extension Can Newton signed this offseason, the fact that he has been able to get on the practice field is a huge boost for the quarterback. Last year, Newton was still recovering from ankle surgery that kept him off the practice field for almost all of OTAs.
One of the focuses of Newton has been to improve his footwork and Coach Ron Rivera took notice. After the team’s final minicamp practice, Rivera couldn’t help but praise Newton and the work he was able to do during that week of practice.
The team has had a good amount of turnover at the skill positions this offseason and it certainly will be beneficial for the Panthers offense to give Newton and his teammates as much time to practice as possible.
There certainly is no question that Kelvin Benjamin is the team’s number one wide receiver. However, Benjamin struggled to stay healthy this offseason and the hope is that this will not carry over into training camp or the regular season.
Prior to the team’s first OTA, it was announced that Benjamin would miss some practices with a hamstring injury. The team was patient, which was the right move at this point in the offseason, and allowed the injury time to heal.
He was able to get back on the field in time for minicamp practice but suffered another hamstring injury that forced him to miss the last two practices. Coach Rivera made a comment that it could be due to Benjamin arriving to camp overweight. That was quickly dismissed by general manager Dave Gettleman, who believed it was “much ado about nothing.”
Whatever the reason for the recurring injuries, the team hopefully can address it and make sure Benjamin stays healthy for the entire season.
A number of wide receivers have grabbed headlines this offseason from Funchess to an improved Corey Brown. This certainly doesn’t bode well for Jarrett Boykin, who could find himself farther down on the depth chart than he might have thought.
The former Green Bay Packer was signed to a one-year deal this offseason but was singled out by The Charlotte Observer’s Joseph Person as a player who struggled during offseason workouts. Person notes that he may not have struggled so much as he wasn’t able to separate himself from the pack.
This is certainly surprising for a player who looked to be on the rise after the 2013 season. He replaced Randall Cobb that season and finished with 49 receptions, 681 yards and 3 touchdowns in 11 games. He struggled last year and was surpassed by rookie Davante Adams as the team’s number three wide receiver.
The depth chart is deep at wide receiver this season with all the additions and Boykin will have some serious work to do in training camp if he hopes to move his way up.
Brandon Croce is the Lead Publisher for PantherInsider.com. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonCroce.