The Panthers have spent time with many of the top running backs in this year’s draft class, leading to plenty of speculation that they could take one with the eighth overall pick next week.
That would continue a reversal of the trend that saw running backs fail to go in the first round of the draft, something Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman attributed to weak crops of players in those drafts during a press conference on Friday. Gettleman does not believe that’s the case this year.
Gettleman said he would not take a running back in the first round unless he thought that player could play all three downs. He said he feels there are “half a dozen” backs like that in this year’s draft.
While some have raised concerns about his ability to handle that kind of workload, Gettleman included Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey in that group and said that McCaffrey showed the ability to run, catch and “carry the load” while in college.
LSU’s Leonard Fournette would likely be the team’s other option if they want to take a running back at the top of the draft and the Panthers met with him during the pre-draft process, although the same is true of plenty of other teams drafting early in the first round.