5 prospects Panthers should watch closely at Oregon’s pro day

(Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports) Penei Sewell
(Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports) Penei Sewell /
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Carolina Panthers
(Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports) C.J. Verdell /

C.J. Verdell – RB

Not having Christian McCaffrey for all-but three games really cost the Carolina Panthers in 2020. The All-Pro running back suffered some significant injury problems for the first time in his career and although Mike Davis played well in his absence, the veteran is now with an NFC South rival in the Atlanta Falcons.

Getting a strong option to slot behind McCaffrey on the depth chart is essential, especially if the former first-round pick sufferers further complications next time around. It remains to be seen whether Rodney Smith, Reggie Bonnafon, and Trenton Cannon are up to the task. But the Panthers could also use a dynamic weapon from the college ranks to bolster depth at some stage of the 2021 NFL Draft,

If they choose to go down this route and wait until a little bit later in the draft, then examining the potential of C.J. Verdell is something that warrants a second look. The diminutive back plays a lot bigger than his size, bringing a dual-threat presence that is normally a hot commodity over the all-important draft weekend.

Verdell made a minimal contribution over five games in 2020. But his level of production the two seasons prior to that when Justin Herbert was under center should make NFL teams sit up and take notice.

In 2018 and 2019, Verdell amassed 2,678 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns. He boasts a career average of six yards-per-carry and although his ability in pass protection needs some substantial work, his aggressive running style is something Matt Rhule is sure to love.