Jan 3, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Kenjon Barner (4) carries the ball in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at University of Phoenix Stadium. Oregon defeated Kansas 35-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

The Case for Kenjon Barner

Kenjon Barner caught everyone by surprise when he was selected by the Panthers in the 6th round. Why did the Panthers select a running back when there were other needs to be addressed elsewhere on the team? I mean we do have DeAngelo Williams, Jonathon Stewart, and Mike Tolbert in our backfield already, as well as our dual-threat Quarterback, Cam Newton. So why did the Panthers select Barner with their 6th round pick?

Well I think they picked just for his status as a player going so late in the draft. Barner may not be a shining star, but he was projected to go in the third/fourth round range. The fact that the first Running Back pick in the draft occurred in the second round did not exactly help his case either. The pick of Barner in the 6th round most commonly applies to the Exceptions to the Rules article I wrote earlier. In the article I wrote that the Panthers should not resist taking certain players in the first round. I assimilate that to the Barner pick. He just had too much value for the Panthers to miss out on.

Let’s take a look at the stats he put up while he was at Oregon. We all know that Oregon puts their fastest players in the backfield to stack their rushing game, and with players like LaMichael James and De’Anthony Thomas, Barner didn’t really have much time to play for the football team. The former track star was moved to Running Back on the football team in 2009. Despite the presence of James and Thomas in 2011, Barner started five contests and finished with 939 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns for the year. Those numbers eclipsed his rushing totals over the previous two seasons, where he recorded 917 yards, nine touchdowns. At the NFL combine 4.25 40 yard dash time, and was a top performer in the Vertical Jump, 3-Cone Drill, and the 60 TD Shuffle, earning 35.5 inch jump, a 6.87 time, and an 11.33 time in each of the respective events. Also, a fun fact about Barner is that he is one of only three Oregon athletes to win a Pac-10 championship in track and field, and football in the same academic year.

March 14, 2013; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Kenjon Barner catches the football during Oregon pro day at Moshofsky Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Now with all that being said, I’d like to address his potential spot with the Panthers. He obviously is listed as a Running Back, and I’m sure he could be a huge star with the Panthers. He has great speed both breakaway and straight up speed. I see his role with the team as more of a Special Teams player. A sub for Ted Ginn, or maybe Ginn’s replacement, he obviously has the speed, agility, and quickness to make an impact in the NFL. I’d really like to see his role with Panthers grow as his time with the team grows too. I think, like Klein, he could be a real steal as a 6th round pick, and under Rivera’s new regime, I really hope he shines and progresses as a player.

So those are my thoughts on Kenjon Barner, but what are yours? Please leave them in the comments below.

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