An analysis of how the Carolina Panthers distributed playing time among wide receivers during the 2014 season.
Analysis: That first-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin led the way in snap counts at 78.8 percent says the Panthers were successful in replacing all-time leading wide receiver Steve Smith, who was released during the offseason. Smith was on the field only 74.8 percent of the time in 2013. While Benjamin had growing pains in terms of blocking and dropped passes, he caught 84 passes during the regular season and postseason combined for 1,118 yard and 11 touchdowns. Where the Panthers were hurting was quality depth. After Jerricho Cotchery, there really wasn’t any until late in the season when undrafted rookie Philly Brown emerged to add a deep threat to the lineup. Offseason acquisition Jason Avant, third in snap counts among receivers, is telling. Avant was released in mid-November. Finding a solid No. 2 receiver with speed will be a priority during free agency and/or the draft. Cotchery, as he was at Pittsburgh before coming to Carolina, remains a No. 3.