What the Addition of Tavarres King Means for the Panthers and King
On Monday the Panthers were awarded Wide Receiver Tavarres King after he was claimed on Waivers from the Denver Broncos. While a fifth round draft pick who never could get on the field doesn’t seem like anything special, King could end up being a more than solid addition for the Panthers. He has physical qualities of a starting caliber WR, and his production level was high during his career in Georgia. So what potential impact could King have in Carolina, and why is this move beneficial to not only the Panthers, but King himself?
First lets look at who King is. He’s just an average sized WR at 6 feet and 189 pounds, but he also possesses a good degree of speed, registering a 4.47 second forty yard dash at the NFL Combine earlier this year. But more than just physical qualities, Tavarres demonstrates a good level of positional skill on the field. King shows quick feet during games, and fluid hips. This allows him to make sudden cuts in his routes, and makes it possible for him to generate a good amount of separation. This is evident when King runs the double move, showing the ability to cut, stop, and start again at times leaving the defender in the dust. King also shows a very good level of body control. He’s able to adjust to a poorly thrown or late pass, and put himself in position to make the play. He uses his body well to shield the defender most of the time, walling them away from the football. Finally, he shows a good ability to make plays along the boundary and does a good job with the 50-50 ball, at times out working the defender.
But with a fifth rounder there will obviously be some areas of concern. One of the biggest hurdles King will have to overcome to be a contributor for the Panthers, is consistency. While Tavarres has all of the ability mentioned above, he doesn’t do these things consistency. At times his body control won’t look as refined, he’ll have trouble tracking the football in the air or he won’t consistently meet the ball with his hands instead letting the football get into his chest plate. Also, at times his footwork will get choppy in his routes, reducing the separation he gets from a Cornerback. Along with consistency, is being consistent at catching the football altogether. It appears that Tavarres either has lapses in concentration, or inconsistent hands. There’s a great example of this in his Bowl game against Nebraska last year. At the 5:50 mark in the fourth quarter, King adjusts perfectly to a back shoulder throw. He contorts his body to get back to the pass while shielding the defender, and extends his arms out to snatch the ball out of the air. Then, on his very next target at the 2:40 mark King drops a perfectly placed ball over his shoulder in the end zone.
So is King a player that can help the Panthers? In my opinion, absolutely. He’s a well-rounded Receiver that does most things well. While he isn’t elite in any one area of his game (at least not yet), he is solid enough at most things to be a quality complementary WR. Once King learns the playbook, he is a player that I can see having a good contribution down the stretch, and moving forward. For King, it’s as simple as that. He has an opportunity. Something he wasn’t likely to receive from the Denver Broncos. With Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker firmly entrenched in the Broncos depth chart, King would have found it almost impossible to make any significant impact for at least a couple of years. Even though the Broncos didn’t want to lose King (they added him to their active roster two weeks ago to prevent the Packers from grabbing him off their Practice Squad), they were forced to waive him to fit Von Miller on the active roster. In Carolina, King enters into a situation that is much less concrete. Uncertainty surrounds Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr and Domenik Hixon who are all essentially on one year contracts. It’s possible that all three of them will be playing elsewhere in 2014. So while King will probably be nothing more than a number four man at best this year, if he shows progress his role could expand greatly moving forward.
So when the Panthers were awarded King on Monday they didn’t just pickup some scrub. They got a player who has a lot of ability and room to grow. A player who performed in arguably the toughest conference in college football, registering 136 catches for 2,602 yards and 21 touchdowns. They got a player who was coveted by the team who let him slip through the cracks. But most importantly they got a player who can potentially be part of the Panthers young core, and who can be a weapon for Quarterback Cam Newton in 2013 and in the future.
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