CHARLOTTE – Head coach Ron Rivera can't wait to see the Panthers' draft picks on the practice field – especially their first-round pick – when the team's two-day rookie minicamp begins Friday.
"I'm real excited because it's an opportunity to watch our five draft picks and see what they're all about, see how they handle things so we can start projecting where we think they'll fit," Rivera said. "Shaq unfortunately will have to go back, so we're going to really have to focus in on him for two days."
Linebacker Shaq Thompson, the No. 25 overall pick in last week's draft, will return to the University of Washington for about a month after the minicamp to finish classes. But Thompson, along with wide receiver Devin Funchess (second round), offensive tackle Daryl Williams (fourth round), linebacker David Mayo (fifth round) and running back Cameron Artis-Payne (fifth round) will make their debuts in Panthers gear Friday and Saturday.
They won't be alone.
All told, 54 players will to take part in the minicamp, including 10 undrafted rookie free agents, 35 invited tryout players and four qualifying veterans.
|DT||Chas Alecxih ||6-4||291||26||1||Pittsburgh ||Lancaster, Pa. |
|G||Zach Allen||6-2||328||24||1||N.C. State||Tifton, Ga. |
|S||C.J. Barnett ||6-0||204||24||1||Ohio State||Dayton, Ohio |
|LB||Jamie Blatnick ||6-3||263||25||1||Oklahoma State||Celina, Texas |
|OT||Daniel Blitch ||6-5||346||23||R||Charlotte ||Clermont, Ga. |
|QB||Chris Bonner||6-6||237||21||R||Colorado State-Pueblo ||San Diego, Calif. |
|S||Detrick Bonner||6-0||206||23||R||Virginia Tech ||McDonough, Ga. |
|LB||Xavius Boyd ||6-2||239||24||1||Western Kentucky ||St. Petersburg, Fla. |
|WR||Avius Capers ||5-9||200||22||R||Johnson C. Smith||Charlotte, N.C. |
|TE||Jamie Childers ||6-4||250||26||1||Coastal Carolina ||Mount Pleasant, S.C. |
|LS||Charlie Coggins ||6-1||218||23||R||East Carolina ||Albemarle, N.C. |
|DE||Rakim Cox ||6-4||268||24||1||Villanova||San Diego, Calif. |
|OT||Anthony Dima ||6-6||290||24||1||Massachusetts ||Centereach, N.Y. |
|LS||Grant Donovan ||6-1||231||23||R||Louisville ||Louisville, Ky. |
|LB||Jake Doughty||6-0||239||23||1||Utah State||Draper, Utah |
|T||Devin Flowers||6-2||320||21||R||South Carolina State||Charlotte, N.C. |
|G||Josh Hendershot ||6-2||292||23||R||Toledo ||Newark, Ohio |
|QB||Cole Jaeschke||6-1||216||23||R||Upper Iowa||Moorland, Iowa|
|WR||Matt James||6-5||211||23||R||Wake Forest ||Raleigh, N.C.|
|WR||Justin Kenyon ||6-2||207||24||1||Belhaven ||Chapel Hill, N.C.|
|G||Jordan McCray ||6-3||322||22||1||Central Florida||Miami, Fla. |
|DT||Troy Moore ||6-2||291||23||R||Sacred Heart ||Worcester, Mass. |
|T||Kyle Nunn||6-5||294||26||1||South Carolina||Sumter, S.C. |
|C||Ronald Patrick ||6-1||308||23||1||South Carolina ||Cocoa, Fla. |
|C||Bryce Redman ||6-1||297||23||R||Houston ||Longview, Texas|
|LB||Etienne Sabino ||6-2||247||24||1||Ohio State||North Miami Beach, Fla. |
|RB||Ricky Seale||5-9||203||23||R||Stanford||Escondido, Calif.|
|CB||Jordan Sullen ||6-0||202||24||1||Toledo ||New Orleans, La. |
|TE||Zachary Swanson ||6-6||263||23||R||Virginia ||Katy, Texas|
|CB||Corey Trim ||5-10||174||22||R||Louisiana Lafayette||Baton Rouge, La. |
|G||Isaiah Tuiasosopo ||6-2||316||21||R||Austin Peay ||Pago Pago, Amer. Samoa |
|TE||Dallas Walker ||6-5||231||27||1||Western Michigan ||Madison, Miss. |
|FB||Lee Ward ||5-11||246||23||R||Stanford||Chesterfield, Mo. |
|CB||Ryan White ||5-10||197||23||1||Auburn||Tallahassee, Fla. |
|DE||Jovontay Williams ||6-2||258||25||R||Johnson C. Smith||Stone Mountain, Ga. |
"There are some undrafted free agents that we really want to take a good, long look at," Rivera said of the group, which includes Clemson cornerback Garry Peters and James Madison safety Dean Marlowe. "There's a safety and a corner that were priority free agents for us that we went out and really made a big push to bring here. They agreed to come here, so I'm excited to see them."
Four players who were on the Panthers' practice squad last season – wide receiver Marcus Lucas, tight end Kevin Greene, safety Kimario McFadden and cornerback Lou Young – are eligible to participate in the minicamp.
The majority of the minicamp roster will consist of the invited tryout players. Last season, five of the 35 tryout players eventually spent some time on the 90-man roster, and offensive tackle David Foucault and defensive tackle Micanor Regis are still on it. The 90-man roster currently has four open spots.
"Last season we had at least 22 rookies and first-year players who were involved with our roster – about 15 who were directly on the 53-man roster and nine who started for us at one time or another," Rivera said. "You have to create opportunities, and that's what we're doing right now."