Again, probably another pick that left Panthers fans flabbergasted. Another running back? But we already have Williams, Stewart, and Tolbert. What could we possibly need another running back for?
It’s simple, really. He may not have been drafted to simply be a running back. Kenjon Barner ran a 4.3 40 at the combine and has great return skills. With Ted Ginn on a short deal, Joe Adams on the bench (permanently it seems), and no one else picking up the slack, the Panthers had to try and find someone who could get the job done.
Kenjon Barner will absolutely burn you. He’s got that elite speed that you hear people talk about sometimes. I think he’ll instantly compete for the spot in our return game. He’s just so elusive. Fast and elusive can equal points in the NFL. Just ask Darren Sproles.
Instead of thinking running back, think weapon instead. I think that that is what the Panthers are thinking. I doubt that Barner will come in on day one and compete against Stewart and Williams, let alone take one of their jobs. What I can see him doing is coming in on third down and catching underneath routes and catches out of the backfield, in space, and turning them into big games, and possibly points.
“We didn’t just pick a guy to bring him in, we picked a guy to compete,” coach Ron Rivera said about Barner. what that tells me is that this guy was on their board, they had studied him, and that they have plans for him. Everyone was clamoring for a weapon for Cam Newton. Well, Gettleman went and got him a weapon. He just isn’t one of the guys we were thinking of, or wanting.
The Panthers may have gotten an incredible value here. Running back is no longer a premium position in the NFL and teams are finding diamonds in the rough in later rounds. Plus the traditional NFL offense of running backs and wide receivers being the threat positions is ending. Finding creative ways to use football players within the structure of the NFL offense is the key. The purpose of the offense is to score points. Do it by any means necessary, and I think that’s what the Panthers intend to do with Barner.