Today up at the NFL Combine, coach Ron Rivera announced the hiring of Jerricho Cotchery as the assistant wide receivers coach and that is just what this young wide receiver corp needs.
Especially when you consider the fact that there is no true NFL veteran in the WR room. Currently, the longest tenured WR has only 3 years of playing time under his belt. You may ask "what about Ted Ginn?" Ted is a free agent.
Cotchery is a 12 year NFL vet and played with the Panthers in 2014 and 2015. So he has played with both Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Fuchess and they can relate with him.
After getting inconsistent production from the slot position, Cotchery should help change that by working with some of the young talent to help develop it. Cotchery made his living in the NFL as a slot receiver and came up with 10 touchdowns in 2013 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cotchery will join Lance Taylor who was hired as the new wide receivers coach back in January after Ricky Proehl stepped away.
Cotchery's hire is a solid one for Ron Rivera and the Panthers. But the combo of Taylor and Cotchery have their work cut out for them.
When you look inside the wide receiver's room, you have Kelvin Benjamin starting his 4th year technically but he missed his 2nd year after a knee injury. KB finished strong in 2016-- his first year back after the knee injury. Taylor and Cotchery's task will be to get Benjamin to the next level.
You also have Devin Funchess who is starting his 3rd year. In his rookie season, Funchess had 31 catches and 473 yards. Last year, he took a step back as he had only 23 catches and 371 yards. Why the step back in 2016 and how can he live up to the expectations the Panthers had when they traded up to pick him in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft? Taylor and Cotchery need to help find those answers.
Other WR include Damiere Byrd and Keyarris Garrett but neither have made an impact in the NFL as of yet. Both are still very raw... enter Taylor and Cotchery.
Not only is Ginn a free agent, but Philly Brown and Brenton Bersin are restricted free agents. Who knows what their futures holds with this team?
It will not be all on Taylor and Cotchery. Bottom line, the front office has a lot of work to do to improve the wide receiver position if they truly want to "evolve" the passing attack of the Carolina Panthers. And the biggest help could be a slot receiver which I think the team will address in both free agency and the NFL Draft.
By the way, wide receiver draft prospects work out Saturday at the NFL Combine. Might be an interesting watch if you got time.
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