CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- ESPN draft analysts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. agreed in their initial mock drafts that the Carolina Panthers will select LSU running back Leonard Fournette with the eighth pick.
I argued after Kiper released his mock that perhaps Florida State’s Dalvin Cook made more sense because of his versatility as a runner and receiver.
With the Panthers planning to evolve the offense to put less pressure on quarterback Cam Newton to be a runner, that type of double threat makes sense.
But don’t forget about Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey.
The Panthers recently hired Stanford running backs coach Lance Taylor to replace wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl, who stepped down to spend more time watching his sons play college football.
Taylor coached McCaffrey the past three seasons, so no coach knows the Heisman Trophy finalist better. He didn’t hide his feelings about McCaffrey in a recent interview with the team website.
“I think he’d look great in Panther blue and black,” Taylor said.
McCaffrey would give the Panthers a more dynamic change-of-pace back from veteran Jonathan Stewart, who has only 24 receptions the past two seasons combined. He had 6,987 all-purpose yards for Stanford as a running, receiver and kick returner.
This past season, McCaffrey caught 37 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns to go with 1,603 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing. The previous season, he caught 45 passes for 645 yards to go with 2,019 yards rushing.
“He made my job so much easier,” Taylor told the team website. “I love Christian as a person and player. He’s great because of how he works and prepares. I’ve said this to people, he reminds me of Luke Kuechly with his work ethic and leadership on and off the field.
“He’s the first one in the building and the last to leave. He wants to study; he wants to perfect his craft. That’s what makes him special.’’
Anytime you compare a player with Kuechly, Carolina’s four-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker, you have to take him seriously.
Here’s a complete look at McShay’s second mock draft.