Panthers mailbag: Tough cuts that may come at WR and RB?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – First, I appreciate all the questions about the Carolina Panthers during a slow period. I couldn’t get to all of them, so don’t be discouraged and keep asking.

Let’s get to it.

@DNewtonESPN: No. Jerricho Cotchery is needed now more than ever for his experience with your top two receivers a second-year player (Kelvin Benjamin) and rookie (Devin Funchess). Cotchery is still a solid rout runner and still viable as the third or fourth receiver, depending on the set. Remember, Cotchery caught 10 touchdown passes two years ago at Pittsburgh as the third or fourth receiver. He never was a fit as the No. 2 at Carolina last season. The positive for the Panthers is they've built enough depth now to potentially be a solid six deep at receiver. It got sketchy at three deep at times last season. You left out Stephen Hill in all of this as well. He's another big receiver with speed who coach Ron Rivera has said is ready to contribute after a year on the practice squad. Hill in 2012 essentially was Funchess (second-round pick out of Michigan) when the Jets drafted him in the second round out of Georgia Tech.

@DNewtonESPN: Too early to print anything in stone. Ted Ginn Jr. figures into this as well. Here's the way I see it. Benjamin is the clear No. 1 and Devin Funchess eventually will be the No. 2. The luxury of Funchess is he can play wide in a two-receiver formation or the slot in a three-receiver set. You could see Benjamin and Funchess in with a combination of Ginn, Corey Brown or Cotchery - maybe even Hill if they want to go real big and fast. Tight end Greg Olsen also figures into this as well. The key is there are a lot more options than a year ago, which should make this a more productive offense all around.

@DNewtonESPN: No. I liked what I saw out of all five in the rookie camp. One of the reasons the Panthers traded to go from nine to five picks was because they didn't want to have to cut players selected in the lower rounds of an overall weak draft. That likely would have happened. Not only do I think the five draft picks will be on the roster, I believe they'll each make a contribution as an every-down player or on special teams. Fifth-round draft pick Cameron Artis-Payne, the last player Carolina selected, should play a significant role as the complement to running back Jonathan Stewart.

@DNewtonESPN: If you talk to him he'll probably say everywhere. The kid has a lot of confidence and is eager to prove himself. It'll be an interesting battle for playing time behind Jonathan Stewart. I fully expect fifth-round pic Artis-Payne to be the No. 2 back. Then it'll come down to Wegher or Fozzy Whittaker. My money is on Wegher. He's younger and faster. He provides an energy and toughness that is contagious. Look for him to work on special teams as well. I'm not sure if he can return kicks, but I'd give him a chance to try.

@DNewtonESPN: I don't want to mention any names here because it's way too early for that kind of a prediction. But I'll give you two positions to look at. Wide receiver and cornerback. The additions made during the offseason will create some competition that will make for a few more surprises than there have been at Carolina on the final cut day the past two seasons.