Can Ian Thomas become the first productive tight end the Panthers have ever drafted? The Carolina Panthers have never drafted a productive receiving tight end in franchise history. Let’s hope Ian Thomas can reverse the curse. With data taken from Football Reference Blue Christian McCaffrey Jersey
, here are the abysmal receiving stats for the nine tight ends Carolina has drafted prior to selecting Thomas in the fourth round this year.Career receiving yards of tight ends drafted by the PanthersYearRoundPlayerGamesReceptionsRec YdsRec/GRec Yds/GTDYearRoundPlayerGamesReceptionsRec YdsRec/GRec Yds/GTDBelieve it or not, but the Panthers have never drafted a tight end who went on to average at least 1.5 receptions or 20 receiving yards per game throughout his career. Gary Barnidge is the most productive receiving tight end Carolina has ever drafted, but he’s an oddity because nearly half of his career yards came in his improbable 2015 Pro Bowl season when he registered 1,043 of his total 2,258 yards. He was 30, playing for the Browns, and entering his eighth NFL season. His previous career high before his 1,000-plus yard campaign was just 242 yards. Can we get a 30 for 30 or an Outside the Lines on Gary Barnidge’s miraculous 2015 Pro Bowl season, please? While the nine tight ends drafted since the Carolina’s founding in 1995 might seem like a low number, it’s right in line with the rest of the NFC South. In that same time frame the Saints have drafted six tight ends, the Falcons have drafted eight,and the Buccaneers have drafted 13, but seven of them were sixth- and seventh-round picks. Carolina’s history using tight endsThe lack of production from tight ends the Panthers have drafted shouldn’t be viewed as some sort of team bias against featuring the position in the passing game. Wesley Walls joined the Panthers in 1996 after six years with the 49ers and Saints. Walls went on to play seven seasons in Carolina (1996-2002) and make five Pro Bowl teams. During his seven seasons in Carolina his 3,902 receiving yards trailed only Shannon Sharpe, Tony Gonzalez, and Frank Wycheck among tight ends Christian McCaffrey Jersey 2019
, per Football Reference. We all know how dominant Greg Olsen has been as a receiver since joining the Panthers from the Bears in 2011. No need to explain further. While Walls and Olsen have been among the NFL’s most productive tight ends in their respective eras, neither of them was drafted by the Panthers. The hope for Ian ThomasAs CSR’s Billy Marshall highlighted after the draft, Ian Thomas is raw and athletic. In his two seasons at Indiana he caught a total of 28 passes for 404 yards and five touchdowns so the Panthers are clearly gambling on his upside. Despite his lack of college production the rookie earned praise from Luke Kuechly for his effort at training camp:In the Panthers first preseason game against the Bills he recorded just one reception for two yards. He had the opportunity for a longer reception but couldn’t get both feet down before going out of bounds, which shouldn’t be surprising in light of his limited experience. The good news for Thomas and the Panthers is he won’t be expected to contribute immediately while playing behind Greg Olsen. Ian will have plenty of time to learn from one of the all-time greats over the next few years. But at some point in the future Olsen will retire (or get injured, knock on wood) and the Panthers will need Ian Thomas to step in and step up. Let’s hope he can become the first productive tight end the Panthers have ever drafted. Welcome back to the 2018 edition of Step UP or Step OUT, a series on CSR that is intended to look at players who are playing well and highlight a few that need to step their game up. Think of it as a heat index for the Carolina Panthers; guys who are playing well are stepping up and those who aren’t need to improve their game or. . . step out.This week we’ll look at some guys that nearly willed us to victory in the stinker against Washington. The others mentioned, need to play better or maybe just step out of the way and let someone else take over.Steppin’ UPJames BradberryHeat Rating: Nachos with a hefty helping of hot queso covering themIn year three, it really appears that James Bradberry has taken a turn for the better and is developing into a solid starting corner for the team. I wouldn’t say he is particularly opportunistic from a turnover perspective, nor is he a “shutdown” guy, but to date he has done a fine job covering most of the people he’s been assigned to in this more man-based coverage scheme. Particularly on Sunday, he was on his guys like glue, breaking up passes and nearly notching an interception. Hopefully this will continue for the rest of the season.Devin FunchessHeat Rating: The hood of your black car in the bright Charlotte sunlightQuentin Dunbar, you sir, got Mossed by Devin Funchess.Criticized at times for unsure hands or not muscling up on a tough catch that should be easy for him, every once in a while Devin Funchess will flash some ability that makes you realize why the Carolina Panthers think highly of their fourth year player. On Sunday, he made what was easily the catch of the day along with his typical 70 yards receiving. Particularly Blue Shaq Thompson Jersey
, it seems like he and Cam Newton have developed a nice chemistry, which should lead to more red zone targets in the future.