Most NFL draft analysts regard former Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey as the second or third-best running back in this year’s class, below LSU’s Leonard Fournette and on par with FSU’s Dalvin Cook. However, McCaffrey could be drafted as high as No. 8 overall by the Carolina Panthers.
I ran this exact scenario by a GM today. McCaffrey isn’t exactly a fit… but was told this wouldn’t be shocking or surprising. https://t.co/klxviMCjPk
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 12, 2017
Given that the Panthers aren’t in desperate need of a running back, McCaffrey isn’t unanimously considered a top-tier prospect and drafting a running back in the top-10 is rare without an Ezekiel Elliott-type talent, it would probably surprise most if Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman pulled the trigger on this.
Especially considering the team’s very real interest in Leonard Fournette.
At minimum, it seems more prudent for the Panthers to try and trade down in the first round if they think McCaffrey will be their best option. If they do end up drafting the Stanford product that high, there would be massive pressure for him to succeed, as the pick would be considered a reach.
It would also drastically shift longtime Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart’s role or potentially open the door for him to leave altogether. Stewart rushed for 824 yards last season in 13 games and has dealt with various injuries over the past two years, perhaps scaring the front office as he hits age 30. Though, that notion seems a bit far fetched considering he recently inked a new deal with the club.