NFL Draft 2017: Carolina Panthers Will Select Leonard Fournette

NFL Draft 2017: Carolina Panthers Will Select Leonard Fournette Photo by USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers Should Draft Leonard Fournette

March 31, 2017

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The Carolina Panthers went from playing in the Super Bowl to winning six games and finishing dead last in the NFC South. It was all good just a week ago. The team now has the No. 8 pick in the upcoming 2017 NFL draft and needs to make a selection that will help get them back into the playoffs.

The Panthers should select LSU running back Leonard Fournette.

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I’m not a fan of drafting a running back in the first round because if you have an above-average offensive line, you can put just about anybody in the backfield and they’ll be successful. Also, running backs are a dime a dozen nowadays where we’re seeing late round or undrafted guys thrive. It’s almost like a waste of a value pick.

However, Fournette is special. You watch tape of the kid and it just screams Adrian Peterson. The speed, burst, strength and acceleration are all there. He finishes runs strong, runs angry and is built like a brick house. Talent wise, there’s just no way Fournette can be a bust at the next level.

The one team that needs a running back in the worst way is the Carolina Panthers. Jonathan Stewart has been a serviceable back, but he’s entering his 10th season and just turned 30 years old. There’s a long history of running backs falling off a cliff once they hit that age, and Stewart is already coming off a season in which he topped 100 rushing yards in just one game. Unless you're a Panthers fan, you can’t name any other running back on this roster.

In fact, quarterback Cam Newton was Carolina's second-leading rusher last season with 359 yards. Newton will enter this season as a 28-year-old and spent last season with concussion issues and had to have offseason shoulder surgery. It’s time for Carolina's franchise player to stop taking such a beating. Newton isn’t a guy you want running the ball as much as he does, especially when soon to be 34-year-old Derek Anderson is your backup quarterback.

Fournette is a plug and play guy who can contribute right away, allow the older Stewart to fall into a backup roll and take a ton of pressure and wear and tear off Newton. This selection improves the offense all round and instantly makes the Panthers a better football team.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera also said that there’s no spot too high to take a running back. Well, if that’s the case, it’s time to go get the best running back in this class.

Fournette should be in Carolina.

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The pick in this article is the opinion of the writer, not a Sports Chat Place site consensus.