The Panthers have been busy tinkering with the wide receiver position. Veteran Torrey Smith was acquired via trade, providing a much-needed vertical threat for the offense. Jarius Wright, who enjoyed success with offensive coordinator Norv Turner as a slot target in Minnesota, was an under-the-radar free agent addition. And when the draft came, Carolina used its first-round pick on DJ Moore, the explosive playmaker from Maryland.
1. What does Devin Funchess have in store for Year Four?
The decision to trade Kelvin Benjamin midway through the 2017 season opened the door for Funchess to take over the “X” role, a.k.a. his more natural position. He thrived, finishing with 63 catches for 840 yards and eight touchdowns – all career bests. Now he’s entering a contract year as Cam Newton’s No. 1 wideout. It could all add up to a big year for Funchess, who turned just 24 in May.
View photos of the wide receivers in action during the 2017 season.
2. How much of an impact will Moore make?
For what it’s worth, the first-round pick looked more than ready to contribute during spring practices. There will be the typical rookie growing pains, but it’s clear Moore can help the offense immediately. He brings a unique skill set to the receiver group with his ability to make people miss and turn quick passes into long gains. The Panthers want to tap into that kind of weapon as much as possible.
3. Can Curtis Samuel get back on track?
Samuel’s rookie year didn’t go as planned. After nagging injuries forced him to miss the bulk of training camp, Samuel had a lot of catching up to do. Once it looked like he had finally caught up, Samuel suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 10. Rehab has gone well, and the former second-round pick showed some encouraging signs during the spring. If he can stay healthy, the speedster should be able to carve out a valuable role in his sophomore season.