Today’s the day: the NFL Draft begins at 8pm EST.
When the Panthers followed up a 15-1 season in which they appeared in the Super Bowl with a 6-10 showing, fans had questions about how the Panthers would “fix” it.
Aside from the departure of Josh Norman, the most glaringly obvious weakness for the Panthers was offense. Carolina struggled to find the end zone even with the explosive Cam Newton under center. That being said, many expect the Panthers to draft a running back with the No. 8 pick in tonight’s draft.
Most of the chatter has centered around Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette; two very different backs. McCaffrey, weighing in at 202 pounds, broke Barry Sanders’ record for most all-purpose yards in a season in 2015. Fournette, who weighed in at 240 pounds at March’s Scouting Combine, is a big, durable back. Both could take a lot of pressure off of Newton who Head Coach Ron Rivera said will be rushing a lot less this upcoming season.
According to GM Dave Gettleman, both players fit the Panthers’ offensive scheme.
Christian is a different style from Leonard. A completely different style. Oh, by the way, Leonard has really good hands. He catches the rock now.
When discussing the selection of a running back in the first round, Gettleman had this to say.
“(If) you take a running back in the first round, he better be a three-down guy right now.”
When asked how many such backs are in this year’s draft, Gettleman estimated “about a half-a-dozen.” Of course …
“There’s three-down running backs, and there’s three-down running backs,” he clarified. “Not everybody’s equal.”
And everyone comes with different question marks.
For McCaffrey, many wonder if his slighter frame can allow him to be a three-down back in the NFL. That’s where Gettleman points out McCaffrey carried the ball 590 times the past two years while adding 82 receptions.
“He can run it, he can catch it – I guess that’s three downs,” Gettleman said with a smile. “He has certainly shown that he can carry the load at Stanford.”
Only time will tell who comes off the board at No. 8 tonight.
Flip through the pages for highlights of the two.