- David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer
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Vaughn McClure, Atlanta Falcons: I've been a fan of big receivers since the days when 6-foot-4 Randy Moss terrorized the league. Now the Panthers have plenty of size in Kelvin Benjamin (6-5) and Funchess (6-4) to go with tight end Greg Olsen (6-5). That should create matchup nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators. Speaking specifically about receivers, I still believe it's hard to put anybody up against Julio Jones, but Jones doesn't have the same type of complement he used to with Roddy White aging. So, if anything, you would have to stack the Panthers' combo up against the Buccaneers with Mike Evans (6-5) and Vincent Jackson (6-5), who combined for 2,053 yards last season, on a team that struggled at quarterback. It's a close call, but I give Evans and Jackson the edge right now until I see what Funchess is capable of doing. Again, Jones can make the Falcons the dominant group by his lonesome, plus they added Justin Hardy, a rookie they are excited about. The Saints simply aren't the same without essentially their top wide receiver in tight end Jimmy Graham, who was traded to the Seattle Seahawks. Not to mention, the Saints got rid of deep threat Kenny Stills, who was traded to the Miami Dolphins.
Mike Triplett, New Orleans Saints: Better, but still fourth place. Benjamin was a very good addition for the Panthers last year in Round 1 of the draft, but Tampa Bay's Evans and New Orleans' Brandin Cooks might wind up being even better from that ridiculously talented rookie class of receivers. Funchess is a rookie who could have an impact on the division because he gives Cam Newton yet another big target and mismatch to work with. But when you look at the Falcons with Jones and White, the Buccaneers with Evans and Jackson, and the Saints with Cooks and Marques Colston, I'd still rank them 1-2-3 in that order.
Pat Yasinskas, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Panthers are better off with the additions of Funchess and Ginn to help Benjamin, who had a strong rookie year. Ginn returns to the Panthers after spending last season in Arizona. In 2013, Ginn was with the Panthers, and he and Newton had some decent chemistry. That season, Ginn had 36 catches for 556 yards and five touchdowns. He gives the Panthers a speed receiver who can make things happen down the field. That should be a nice complement to Funchess and Benjamin. Like Benjamin, Funchess has the size to cause mismatches. But Funchess needs to show better hands. In the last three seasons at Michigan, he was charged with 20 drops. Carolina is better than last season, but this is still far from an elite receiving corps.