Former first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin and former second-round pick Devin Funchess didn't reach the heights many expected in 2016, and they enter 2017 with a lot to prove. Curtis Samuel was added in the second round of the draft to bring much-needed speed and versatility, and Russell Shepard – who joined the Panthers after four seasons with Tampa Bay – is already making his veteran presence felt.
1. Will Benjamin and Funchess rise to the occasion?
General manager Dave Gettleman said it best: "It's time" for Benjamin and Funchess. After reporting for offseason workouts overweight, Benjamin trimmed down and finished strong at minicamp. Funchess was solid throughout the spring, and head coach Ron Rivera believes the Panthers can use him better than they have in the past. We've seen flashes from these two, but as they enter Your Four and Year Three respectively, it's time for high-level production on a consistent basis.
2. How will the Panthers use Samuel?
Like first-round pick Christian McCaffrey, the second-rounder from Ohio State can be used in a variety of ways. The Panthers will mainly use Samuel as a slot receiver, but he's comfortable as a ball-carrier, so we could see him line up all over the place. One thing's for sure: His "oh my gosh" speed will be a huge asset to stretch defenses, especially after Ted Ginn, Jr. bolted for New Orleans.
3. What kind of impact will Shepard make?
Shepard was one of the stars of spring. His energy and enthusiasm stood out from the get-go, and he proved to be a reliable target over the middle throughout OTAs and minicamp. Will that translate into significant contributions on Sundays? That remains to be seen. But his willingness to be a vocal leader for a young group of wideouts will be an important part of his role.
View photos of the wideouts on the roster entering training camp.