I wrote two weeks ago that the Panthers should invest their No. 1 pick on Louisiana State running back Leonard Fournette, and if he’s gone, they should take Florida State running back Dalvin Cook.
Nothing has changed. The NFL has rediscovered the value of running backs. Rookie Ezekiel Elliott was outstanding for the Dallas Cowboys last season and rookie Todd Gurley was outstanding for the St. Louis Rams the season before.
Carolina doesn’t have to rediscover running backs. It has always run the ball. At 30, running back Jonathan Stewart still is a talent, albeit a talent with miles on his body and one season remaining on his contract.
Because the Panthers will be less likely to call runs for Cam Newton next season, drafting a rookie to complement and eventually supplant Stewart is essential. Cook is smaller and a better receiver than Fournette. But a big man who can move fits the Carolina template.
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Fournette is 6-1 and 235 pounds and, if you care, he was considered the best player in the country as a high school senior in New Orleans. If he walked into a room you might say, “Linebacker.” Yet he goes from zero to 60 as quickly as he needs to.
Fournette will be outstanding for somebody. Why not be outstanding for Carolina?