Tom Sorensen

Here’s what will happen at No. 8 if Leonard Fournette is available to Panthers

Is LSU running back Leonard Fournette the pick for the Carolina Panthers at No. 8? Not if history is your guide.
Is LSU running back Leonard Fournette the pick for the Carolina Panthers at No. 8? Not if history is your guide. AP

If Leonard Fournette is available when the Carolina Panthers make their first pick in the NFL draft, you know what’s going to happen?

Fournette will still be available when the Cincinnati Bengals, who select immediately after the Panthers, make their pick.

I’d like to see Carolina take Fournette, the big running back out of Louisiana State. He’s been the favorite in mock drafts for so many months that I feel as if I know him. And he’s improving. Every week he sheds a little weight and acquires a little speed.

I think he’ll be a good professional. But he won’t be a good professional in Charlotte.

Teams have personalities. This is who they are and this is what they do. Carolina’s personality is bigger than Dave Gettleman, the Carolina general manager whose first draft was in 2013.

I believe the Panthers will select a running back, but not with the eighth overall pick. They have two second-round selections and one in Round 3. The second or third round is the turf from which their running back will come.

The Panthers’ first draft was in 2005. Since then, they’ve selected 15 running backs.

They’ve taken three in the first round, two in the second, one in the third, one in the fourth, three in the fifth, four in the sixth and one in the seventh.

The first-round picks are Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Tim Biakabutuka. The Panthers used the 27th pick on Williams, the 13th on Stewart and the eighth on Biakabutuka.

Think about it. The Panthers have the eighth pick, and only once have they picked a running back as high as eighth. That was in 1996. Do you know how long ago 1996 is?

Michael Jordan won the fourth of his six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls that year.

Gettleman has selected three running backs in the four drafts since he became general manager. He took Cameron Artis-Payne in the fifth round and Tyler Gaffney and Kenjon Barner in the sixth.

On whom will the Panthers invest their first pick April 27? I’d guess a defensive end or a tight end.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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