Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey Fit Panthers' Scheme According to GM

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2017

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 12:  Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers runs the ball during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 38-10.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

With the NFL draft less than a week away, Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman fueled speculation his team could select a running back at pick No. 8 overall.

Speaking to reporters Friday, Gettleman said both LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette and Stanford Cardinal tailback Christian McCaffrey would be scheme fits for the Panthers, according to NFL.com's Kevin Patra:

They fit. ... Christian has a different style from Leonard, there's no doubt about it. Completely different style. And by the way, Leonard has really good hands, he catches the rock now. But that's part of the process that you're in. When you're in the draft room, when we sit there with the coaches, we talk about fit. Does this guy really fit what we want to do? So we're not afraid to ask that question, we're not afraid to move guys around the board based on the answer to that question. So, I mean, they both fit with different styles.

Although the Panthers ranked 10th in the NFL last season with 113.4 rushing yards per game, they're in the market for a successor to Jonathan Stewart, who has missed 26 regular-season games dating back to the start of the 2012 season.

Considering that Stewart recently turned 30 years old and gained a meager 3.8 yards per carry last season, the Panthers could use fresh legs in their backfield.

At present, both Fournette and McCaffrey are projected to fly off the board somewhere in the first half of Round 1. In his latest two-round mock draft, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller had Fournette slotted in at No. 2 overall to the San Francisco 49ers, while McCaffrey landed with the Panthers at No. 8.

While McCaffrey has been knocked for his lack of feature back size (5'11", 202 pounds), Gettleman squashed concerns regarding the former Heisman Trophy finalist's viability as a three-down presence.

"The last two years he's rushed the ball for 650 and he's caught another 90 balls," he said, per Patra. "So that right there—he can run it, he can catch it—I guess that's three downs. ... He's certainly shown he can carry the load at Stanford."

 

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