Carolina Panthers looking to create “double trouble” at running back

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 21: Running back Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers is forced out of bounds by cornerback Jalen Mills #31 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on October 21, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 21: Running back Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers is forced out of bounds by cornerback Jalen Mills #31 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on October 21, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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The Carolina Panthers could draft positional peer for Christian McCaffrey.

When you really stop and think about what the positional needs are for the Carolina Panthers heading into the 2019 NFL draft, running back (on the surface) is not one of them. After all, Christian McCaffrey proved that he could handle a heavy workload. The Stanford product logged 91% of offensive snaps in 2018. However, as we learned at the NFL Combine on Thursday, head coach Ron Rivera wants to ease some of the workload off his star rusher.

It would be nice if the Carolina Panthers could get another running back to complement McCaffrey. After all, who’s to say that his body will hold up in the 2019 campaign? Especially if he runs the ball as often as he did in 2018 and proves once again to be a key part of the passing game, he needs a break. Rivera seemed to recognize that as noted by Jordan Rodrigue and Marcel Louis-Jacques of the Charlotte Observer.

"Interestingly, Rivera indicated that the team is seeking a running back with a skill set similar to McCaffrey’s: Explosive runner, can catch the ball out of the backfield, and durable."

They could re-sign Cameron Artis Payne, who is currently a free agent. However, I think that they would be wise to look in the draft to see if they can find someone to complement McCaffrey’s style. Carolina is now beginning to recognize that the running back is more than just a running back at the position. Now, running backs have to be able to catch and prove to be a dynamic part of the offense.

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Just look inside the NFC South for example. The New Orleans Saints have two running backs in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara who can do both. As a result, they contribute heavily to a Saints team that had one of the top offenses in football last year. If the Panthers can find a two-headed monster of their own, that would ease the load off McCaffrey and make their offense even more dangerous. They already have a two-headed monster at the wide receiver position in the Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore. Having running backs that can be impact playmakers as well would only bolster the offense.

What if the offensive line struggles next year? The fact that they held up well last year was quite frankly a miracle. They could have a down year in 2019. Having an extra running back that can catch those rushed throws and turn them into positive gains and having a backfield that Cam Newton can rely on to make plays when needed would be great. The key word here is backfield. McCaffrey did all I described above last season but he can’t do it alone again in 2019 just from a fatigue and workload standpoint. It would be unfair to ask him to replicate the numbers he had in 2018.

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Of course Artis-Payne could also very much be an option. I’m not ruling him out. However, if the Carolina Panthers can land an impact player in the draft, one that would be able to give an added boost to the backfield, I would go for it. More and more, running backs are becoming invaluable to offenses. The Carolina Panthers need to hop on the bandwagon if they want to keep up with the rest of the league.

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