Brandon LaFell has always looked the part of a great wide receiver. When the Carolina Panthers drafted him in the first round of the 2010 draft, everyone had huge expectations. He was so good at LSU that it seemed a lock that he would be dominant at the NFL level. The past two years his statistics don't really look very dominant. When Cam Newton arrived in 2011, his statistics got a bump. Now in his third season of NFL action, everybody thinks he will be the guy to slide into the number two slot beside Steve Smith in one of the most high powered offenses in the league. Here are three reasons why that is a good bet:
Brandon LaFell has excellent size and has learned how to use it
LaFell has always had the perfect frame for a wide receiver. At 210 pounds and standing 6'2" tall, LaFell has never had many cornerbacks pushing him around. He is big enough to take a lick and yet still quick enough to get behind the defense. Having that size has become an advantage as he started using it in 2011. LaFell now uses his body to shield defenders and goes up to catch the ball at the top of his jump. He is doing the small things that make excellent receivers stand out from the crowd. If he continues that trend in 2012, he will put up some huge numbers.
Cam Newton will get him the ball
For half of his career, he had Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore throwing him the football. No offense to those two guys, but they are not exactly Cam Newton. Newton buys time with his feet and allows people to get open. When they run proper routes, he is pretty solid at getting them the ball in a good position to make the catch.
Brandon LaFell will get more targets in 2012
Last season, Legedu Naanee took a ton of playing time away from LaFell. As a huge Panthers fan, I still have not figured out a good reason why that was. Naanee was good enough to get open, but he rarely made the play. There are plenty of guys that will compete for catches on this team, but LaFell is clearly the one with the most upside. He will get plenty of targets from Cam Newton and will hopefully take the heat off of Steve Smith throughout the season. That alone will help him to elevate to the level we all have been looking for.
*Southern is a huge Carolina Panthers fan that is convinced that he will see a Super Bowl Trophy in Charlotte within five years.
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