There is no question that the Carolina Panthers coaching staff is going to have a tough decision at wide receiver when they start to cut down their roster. It is safe to say that Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey Brown are pretty much guaranteed locks to make that team.
This is going to leave one, maybe two, roster spots left for players like Jerricho Cotchery, Brenton Bersin and Jarrett Boykin. However, one player is making a strong case for that final spot and that is undrafted free agent Damiere Byrd.
“Damiere is one of those young guys that’s catching everybody’s attention. He’s got the vertical speed, and he’s got the quickness. The slot receiver plays a little bit more prominent role for us, and I think because of what Corey Brown and Ted Ginn can do for us, here’s another young man that’s right in that mold. He’s very quick, very fast, has good hands, has made some plays and has taken advantage of his opportunities.”
At the University of South Carolina, Byrd showed off this speed averaging 19.63 yards per reception and had 10 career touchdown receptions. He also ran a 4.28 second 40-yard dash prior to the NFL Draft at the University’s Pro Day.
As Panthers.com's Max Henson points out, Byrd has proven to be a playmaker in practice and it hasn’t been just on deep routes. “The diminutive rookie has made some tough catches in traffic as well. Quarterback Joe Webb found Byrd wide open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown to end practice on Wednesday.”
Even with the strong performance over the first week and half of training camp, Byrd is still a longshot. The Panthers wide receiver position is much improved from 2014 and the talent level has risen tremendously.
However, the way Byrd has played so far has greatly improved his chances. The deciding factor for the undrafted rookie will most likely come down to two things. The first is how he performs in the preseason games. If he is able to take advantage of his chances, avoid making mistakes like dropped passes, he will help his chances.
The second thing is whether or not he can prove to be a valuable asset on special teams. If Byrd makes the team, he will be at the bottom of the depth chart. So if he wants to contribute to this team, he will need to do so in other aspects of the game, like special teams.
This is one player Panthers’ fans will need to keep an eye on this preseason because he is a talented wide receiver that made the wide receiver position battle just a little tougher.
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