The Carolina Panthers ended their 2013 draft the same way they started it; that is, they made another head-scratching selection by drafting Oregon running back Kenjon Barner. With needs at defensive back and players like Notre Dame's Zeke Motta and Georgia's Bacarri Rambo still on the board, many expected the Panthers to bring in some new blood to compete against Haruki Nakamura.
In the case of Rambo, the Charlotte Observer's Joe Person ended that speculation:
— Joe Person (@josephperson) April 27, 2013
However, Barner is a fast running back and if Carolina has shown the league what their area of expertise is, it's running the ball. Barner may not see significant playing time as a running back, but could be a candidate in the return game.
Despite his low draft stock, Barner did impress at the combine having earned top performer accolades in three events: vertical jump, three cone drill and the 40 yard dash/20 yard shuttle run.
Carolina looks to be preparing for the future and with talk about releasing or trading DeAngelo Williams, it's a good possibility the Panthers want to make sure they have adequate depth at running back and let Jonathan Stewart become the featured back in the offense.
On an interesting note, the Panthers will have two running backs on the roster who attended Oregon and both impressed playing for the Ducks. The difference here is that Barner will have to work hard to be mentioned in the same breath as Stewart and Williams. Replacing one half of double trouble won't be easy, but Barner could be the man to accept the task.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman may receive a lot of flak for this pick, but he is looking ahead to Carolina's future and inevitably avoiding having to address too many holes in next year's draft.