Jeremy Brevard/USA Today

Ranking the Carolina Panthers' Rookies Based On Impact in 2016

The Carolina Panthers have relied on their rookie class in years past, particularly in 2014. For a player to make a splash as a rookie they will need to have a combination of talent as well as playing time. We rank the Panthers' rookies based on their potential impact their first year with the organization.

7. Jeremy Cash

Jeremy Cash has the potential to be a very good player in the NFL however he is a long shot to have a major impact in 2016 as a rookie. The former Duke Blue Devil has two things working against him: making a position change and the depth at that position.

The former safety is making the transition to outside linebacker with the Carolina Panthers and joining a position that already has solid depth with players like Thomas DavisShaq Thompson and A.J. Klein.

Cash is a hard hitter and based on how he played at the college level has tremendous potential to excel as an outside linebacker. The Panthers have had success transitioning safeties to outside linebacker with Davis and Thompson, although Thompson did play some outside linebacker for the University of Washington.

The signing of Cash was made with the long-term potential in mind and he is likely to spend his rookie season on the practice squad. 

6. Keyarris Garrett

Keyarris Garrett is a player that a number of fans are excited about and he has tremendous physical attributes. He is 6'3", 220 pounds and ran an excellent 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds for his size at the NFL Scouting Combine. He battled some injuries at college but performed very well in his final season at Tulsa with 96 receptions, 1,588 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

The Panthers offense has had success with undrafted wide receivers and players like Philly Brown made an impact when he was a rookie in 2014.

However, the position is much different than it was in 2014 and has excellent depth that Garrett will have trouble surpassing as a rookie. The Panthers will be getting back Kelvin Benjamin back this season to go along with players like Ted Ginn Jr.Devin FunchessBrenton BersinKevin Norwood and Brown. 

Garrett will most likely be with the organization in 2016 either on the practice squad or one of the final spots on the 53-man roster. However, barring some kind of injury, the targets will most likely be few and far between for him as a rookie.

5. Zack Sanchez

How the cornerback position shakes out by the Panthers' first game against the Denver Broncos is anybody's guess and three rookies are competing for two spots, starting outside cornerback and nickelback. However, Zack Sanchez isn't really considered as an option for the outside cornerback job and the fact that he is limited to nickelback, limits the impact he could have as a rookie.

Sanchez is the smallest cornerback of the three drafted this year and at 5'11" and 185 pounds he would be at a disadvantage against some of the bigger wide receivers in the division. This is one of the reasons why he will be pushed more to being an inside cornerback. 

If he is able to win the starting job he will obviously move up these rankings.

4. Beau Sandland

With their final pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Panthers selected tight end Beau Sandland and it appears there will be changes at the position this year. The team brought back their three tight ends from last year with Greg OlsenEd Dickson and Scott Simonson but one is likely to lose their spot to Sandland.

Olsen is one of the best tight ends in the game and his spot is far from being in jeopardy, which would leave Dickson and Simonson as the two tight ends battling with Sandland.

In his first year with the Panthers, Simonson didn't fill up the stat sheet and only had one reception for 10 yards. However, he is a much strong run blocker from the position and is one of the main reasons he is on the roster.

Meanwhile, Sandland is an above average pass catcher and would most likely challenge Dickson and potentially earn that second spot in the depth chart. If he is able to beat out the veteran, Sandland could finish the season with a couple of touchdown catches behind Olsen. 

3. Vernon Butler

Vernon Butler is the most talented player in this ranking but he could have the toughest path to earning snaps as a rookie. The defensive tackle position is the deepest on the roster with Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei as starters, with veteran Kyle Love and former Pro Bowler Paul Soliai back them up.

Unlike the cornerback position, there isn't a clear path to a starting job for the defensive tackle. Butler though is an incredible athlete and the coaching staff is sure to find a way to get him on the field as a rookie. The question will be how productive he can be with limited playing time.

2. Daryl Worley

There is a strong possibility that the Panthers could have two rookies in their starting secondary, especially if Daryl Worley is able to win the starting outside cornerback job. The former Mountaineer checks all the boxes so to speak. He has great size at 6'1" and 205 pounds to play on the outside and was able to force turnovers with six interceptions last year.

Worley will not only be competing with fellow rookie James Bradberry but will also need to beat out veteran Robert McClain. I believe early in the season, McClain and Worley are going to split playing time as the coaching staff try and ease the rookie into the NFL game. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Worley be the full-time starter in the final quarter of the season.

1. James Bradberry

The one player I see having the biggest impact on the Panthers as a rookie is second-round pick James Bradberry. He not only has all the physical skills to set into the starting lineup, he is versatile and could end up lining up on the outside or as the team's nickelback.

If Bradberry ends up moving inside, he will be a key player for this defense because the Panthers' operate so much out of their nickel defense, with only two linebackers and five defensive backs on the field. This would be the best move for the Panthers' defense and would give them the strongest secondary with the players they have.

I believe Bradberry will be in the starting lineup when the Panthers face the Broncos and I also believe he will be targeted early and often in the 2016 season. This has the potential for Bradberry to have an excellent rookie season with the Panthers.

Twitter @BrandonCroce

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