Carolina Panthers

2017 NFL draft: Top 10 running backs | Panthers’ top pick might come from this list

NFL Draft 2017: Panthers preview

With the No. 8 pick in the NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers have plenty of options to address several needs. Panthers beat reporter Jourdan Rodrigue breaks down who the team might pick in the first round and offers other names to look out for.
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With the No. 8 pick in the NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers have plenty of options to address several needs. Panthers beat reporter Jourdan Rodrigue breaks down who the team might pick in the first round and offers other names to look out for.

The Observer’s top 10 running backs available in the 2017 NFL draft:

1. Leonard Fournette

College: LSU.

Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 228.

Projected round: 1st.

Comment: Ankle injury slowed him last year, but he was nearly unstoppable in 2015.

2. Christian McCaffrey

College: Stanford.

Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 202.

Projected round: 1st.

Comment: Some question whether he’s an every-down back but he does everything, including catch and return kicks.

Dalvin-Cook
Florida State running back Dalvin Cook possesses instincts and big-play ability, but he’s not a between-the-tackles runner. David J. Phillip AP

3. Dalvin Cook

College: Florida State.

Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 210.

Projected round: 1st.

Comment: Good instincts and big-play ability, but not a between-the-tackles runner.

4. Alvin Kamara

College: Tennessee.

Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 214.

Projected round: 2nd-3rd.

Comment: Good open-field runner who also can return kicks, but prone to fumbling.

5. Curtis Samuel

College: Ohio State.

Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 196.

Projected round: 2nd-3rd.

Comment: Like McCaffrey, projects more as a slot receiver and change-of-pace back.

6. Samaje Perine

College: Oklahoma.

Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 233.

Projected round: 2nd-3rd.

Comment: Bruising back with a thick build who shared carries in college with Joe Mixon.

7. Joe Mixon

College: Oklahoma.

Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 228.

Projected round: 4th.

Comment: Fast, physical runner whose stock dropped after a domestic-violence incident.

Donta-Foreman
Texas running back D’Onta Foreman is Longhorn teammate Armanti Foreman’s twin brother. Orlin Wagner AP

8. D’Onta Foreman

College: Texas.

Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 233.

Projected round: 4th-5th.

Comment: One-year starter for the Longhorns whose twin brother is a WR at Texas.

9. Kareem Hunt

College: Toledo.

Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 216.

Projected round: 4th-5th.

Comment: Arrived at the Senior Bowl 20 pounds below his playing weight at Toledo.

10. Wayne Gallman

College: Clemson.

Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 215.

Projected round: 5th.

Comment: Patient runner willing to let his blocks set up; projects as a backup.

Christian-McCaffrey
Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey does everything, including catch and return kicks, and would would add a different element to the Carolina Panthers’ offense. Gregory Payan AP

Panthers’ perspective

With Jonathan Stewart turning 30 and Ron Rivera saying he wants to lighten Cam Newton’s load, most observers believe Carolina will take a running back at No. 8. If Fournette is available, he’ll be hard to pass up given how he fits in the Panthers’ power run game. But McCaffrey would add a different element to the offense.

Elijah-Hood (2)
Injuries slowed former North Carolina and Charlotte Catholic standout Elijah Hood last season, but he rushed for nearly 1,500 yards in 2015. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

Local connection

Former North Carolina and Charlotte Catholic standout Elijah Hood surprised a lot of scouts by leaving school early. Injuries slowed Hood last season, but he rushed for nearly 1,500 yards in 2015. The late-round prospect could get reps as a fullback depending on the system he lands in.

Sleeper

Coastal Carolina’s De’Angelo Henderson was the leading rusher in South Carolina as a high school senior. With a low center of gravity, the 5-7, 208-pound Henderson has a running style similar to former Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert, who also played at Coastal.

Worth noting

Henderson had a touchdown in 35 consecutive games, breaking Danny Woodhead’s NCAA record. ... North Carolina’s T.J. Logan ran the fastest 40 by a running back at the combine (4.34 seconds) and tied Fournette for the fastest 20-yard split. ... Wisconsin’s Dare Ogunbowale has an athletic pedigree. His mom played softball at DePaul, his sister Arike is on Notre Dame’s basketball team and his cousin, Diamond Stone, is a center for the L.A. Clippers.

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