What can Tiquan Underwood bring to the Panthers' offense? (Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports)
If you have a question for Tiquan Underwood, don’t hesitate to drop him a line on a Twitter. Like many athletes, the Carolina Panthers wide receiver has embraced the emergence of social media and often finds time to connect with his followers.
“It’s an open forum I have an open page,” Underwood said about his Twitter account in a recent interview with CBS Charlotte’s The Mac Attack. “I think it’s cool to be able to interact with the fans.”
Whether he’s re-tweeting a selfie of him and a fan, responding to an encouraging shout-out or acknowledging the love for his exceedingly popular flat top— Underwood is certainly a man of the people.
Take my particular Twitter interaction with the Carolina wideout, for instance. After a follower asked me for Underwood’s drop rate from a season ago, Tiquan wasted little time and chimed in with a clever and brilliant reply of his own.
As indicated by Pro Football Focus, a site dedicated to a unique metric approach to player statistics, Underwood ranks near the top of the league in “wide receiver rating.” According to the analysis, this particular stat represents the “quarterback rating when a receiver is thrown at.”
Underwood’s 110.0 rating, good for 14th amongst NFL receivers in 2013, ranks just below names such as Denver’s Demaryius Thomas, Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson, Cleveland’s Josh Gordon and fellow Carolina teammate Jerricho Cotchery.
Being one of the team’s newest installments at the wide receiver position, Underwood brings quite a few intriguing prospects to the Panthers’ offense. His straight-line speed, for one, is particularly exciting.
With Ted Ginn Jr. signing away to Arizona, the Panthers and offensive coordinator Mike Shula will be sifting through the roster for a deep threat. Underwood’s 4.31 40-time ability may have a stake in that conversation.
The offense, of course, will continue its run-heavy approach with their talented backfield and ground-savvy quarterback in Cam Newton. As Ginn did last season, Underwood can serve as the catalyst for that game breaking, change of pace type pass downfield.
Although it came on just 24 receptions, Underwood averaged 18.3 yards per catch with Tampa Bay lasts season. Of his four touchdowns in 2013, three went for at least 20 yards or more. Underwood racked up a 20-yard score against Seattle, an 85-yard score against Detroit and a 48-yard score against New Orleans. Ginn reeled in four such touchdowns grabs in his role with the Panthers.
Standing at 6’1” with 32” arms, Underwood also possesses some rather appealing size. His long arms will prove useful in the blocking game and will provide Newton with a nice catch radius.
He might even end up as a special teams gem given his good field vision and experience in the return game. In 2010, Underwood brought back 24 kicks at an average of 23.4 yards per return.
Above all else, Underwood will have an exceptional opportunity—one he has yet to encounter in his NFL career. The Rutgers product has displayed his potency in stints with Jacksonville, New England and Tampa Bay. He will, however, be presented with a chance to shine amongst an undefined group of receivers in Carolina.
But if you really want to know what’s in store for his first season in Carolina, try to ask the man himself. He’s a heck of a follow.