In a draft loaded with talent at running back, James Conner isn't drawing near the attention of other top rushers that are available. But if he's the next Marshawn Lynch, perhaps he should.
"Just call me Beast Mode 2.0," Conner wrote in a letter to NFL general managers, via the Players' Tribune.
Conner wrote that the former Seattle Seahawks star is his favorite running back ever, and he aspires to be the NFL's next star rusher of Lynch's style.
"He's always got such amazing willpower to go along with an 'I'm not gonna be denied' mentality, and those are two things I bring to the table every time I suit up. I'm not going down on first contact. It's just not gonna happen. I'm breaking tackles and fighting for extra yards every time I get the ball, just like Marshawn," Conner wrote. "Just call me 'Beast Mode 2.0' (As long as that's cool with Marshawn, of course.) I'm next in line, and ready to follow in his footsteps."
Conner wrote of his background as an underrated recruit who was a pass rusher at the high school level, and looked to provide NFL clubs with a deeper story than his well-documented successful battle with Hodgkin lymphoma. Per Conner, his return to the field for the Panthers last season, following his cancer recovery, came at just 60 percent of his full strength, though he got stronger by the week. Conner finished the season with 1,092 yards on 216 carries and 16 touchdowns. With a powerful, tackle-breaking style and the size (6-foot-1, 233 pounds) to take that approach to the next level, Conner is an intriguing prospect for NFL clubs looking for a between-the-tackles rusher.
If he is indeed the next Lynch, some team will likely be getting a steal in next week's draft (April 27-29 in Philadelphia). NFL.com analyst Chad Reuter projects Conner to be a sixth-round selection of the New England Patriots, No. 200 overall.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.