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Panthers GM: McCaffrey, Fournette both fit team

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If you follow mock draft season closely, you're aware the Carolina Panthers have been consistently linked to selecting a running back with the No. 8 overall pick.

LSU bulldozer Leonard Fournette and Stanford all-purpose back Christian McCaffrey are the two most connected to the Panthers as potential backfield mates for veteran Jonathan Stewart.

On Friday, Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman said that while Fournette and McCaffrey each bring unique skill sets to the table, either would fit in the Panthers' offense.

"They fit ... Christian has a different style from Leonard, there's no doubt about it," Gettleman said. "Completely different style. And by the way, Leonard has really good hands, he catches the rock now. But that's part of the process that you're in. When you're in the draft room, when we sit there with the coaches, we talk about fit. Does this guy really fit what we want to do? So we're not afraid to ask that question, we're not afraid to move guys around the board based on the answer to that question. So, I mean, they both fit with different styles."

Gettleman's note on Fournette's hands indicates he isn't concerned about the running back's lack of work in the passing game during his college career. When it comes to McCaffrey, the biggest question mark seems to be the 5-foot-11 back's ability to consistently run between the tackles as a three-down player in the NFL. It's an issue that has been regularly debunked and one with which Gettleman has no concerns.

"The last two years he's rushed the ball for 650 and he's caught another 90 balls," the GM said. "So that right there -- he can run it, he can catch it -- I guess that's three downs ... He's certainly shown he can carry the load at Stanford."

Gettleman's discussion of the top running backs in next week's draft (April 27-29 in Philadelphia) will fuel the thought that the Panthers will target a ball carrier with their top selection. Of course, it could all be a smokescreen and Gettleman could end up selecting another "hog molly" defensive lineman that falls in his lap.

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