Carolina Panthers Draft Helps Cam Newton

Since Cam Newton was picked No. 1 overall in the 2011 draft, the Carolina Panthers have not used their draft picks to surround their star quarterback with offensive weapons.

Taking the free agency route is expensive and difficult due to salary cap restraints, but the goal can be accomplished through the draft.

The team has not gone that route until now. In the drafts since Newtown was picked through last year’s draft, Carolina used just 2 of its 12 picks in rounds one through three on offensive playmakers.

They drafted Kelvin Benjamin a wide receiver in 2014 with the No. 28 overall pick and Devin Funchess a wide receiver in 2015 with the No. 41 pick overall.

So this draft, the organization decided to make up for that lack of drafting playmakers by picking two that are dynamic and loaded with speed.

In the first round with the No. 8 overall pick, Carolina chose Christian McCaffrey the Stanford running back and with the second pick took McCaffrey’s teammate Curtis Samuel a wide receiver.

McCaffrey has been the most versatile college football player the past two seasons, with 6,191 yards overall in just two seasons that set a new FBS record.

Last season, Samuel provided his versatility for the Buckeyes as well, when he became the only player to finish the season with 700 yards or more in both rushing and receiving.

Carolina hopes to spread out the defenses and have Newton rely on short, quick and high-percentage passes rather than using a read option off the run.

The idea is not just short yardage on these passes, as both Samuel and McCaffrey will turn the shortest of gains into large ones in a split second.

After Carolina lost Steve Smith following the 2013 season it has not had any dynamic receiver. Since that time, the Panthers have used Ted Ginn Jr., Brenton Bersin and Philly Brown.

Benjamin and Funchess represent big targets but are hardly dynamic when it comes to playmakers with breakaway speed.

To help protect Newton so he can pass to his new arsenal of receivers the team drafted Taylor Moton an offensive tackle from Western Michigan who is 6-foot-6 and weighs 319 pounds.

Mixing the playmaking of McCaffrey and Samuel with Greg Olsen the Pro Bowler at tight end, Jonathan Stewart their star running back and Funchess and Benjamin Carolina has the makings for a nucleus to produce a prolific offense that could be better than in 2015 when the team led the NFL in scoring.