The Carolina Panthers have added a speed demon to their running back stable by selecting Oregon's Kenjon Barner in the 6th round of the draft.
Fans who were clamoring for the Panthers to select West Virginia's Tavon Austin in the first round should be thrilled with this pick, as Barner is a quick footed burner who can take the ball to the house from multiple positions - he can catch the ball out of the backfield on a screen play, run the read-option, or return a kickoff/punt.
Barner gives the Panthers a true speed demon who can make plays from multiple positions, and gives them options that they didn't have before they made this selection.
Here are his strengths and weaknesses, courtesy of CBS Draft Scout:
Shifty runner with the stop-start-go ability to shake defenders in tight quarters and break free for long gains. Possesses excellent straight-line speed and is a threat to score every time he has the ball in his hands. Quick to the hole and shows very good vision to set up his blocks at the first level and downfield. Natural runner who can lull defenders to sleep by changing his gait and then exploding past them to ruin pursuit angles.
A finesse runner who only occasionally is able to break free from tackles and generate extra yardage after contact. Relies on cut-blocks rather than taking on pass rushers directly. Has struggled with fumbles over his career, especially when fielding punts and kickoffs.
The good news is the Panthers have added a weapon for Cam Newton.
Now, for the bad news.
This probably spells the end of the Armanti Edwards and Kealoha Pilares era in Carolina, as Barner is a better fit for the special teams role that both of those players have filled, and neither Edwards or Pilares have made a large enough impact at wide receiver to justify a spot on the roster when there are other options available.
With that being said, Dave Gettleman said his job as GM was to do what was best for the Carolina Panthers, and with this selection he has done just that. The Panthers now have a speedy weapon they can use in multiple situations, and personal preferences aside - adding a speed demon who can put points on the board to the roster can only be considered a good thing, especially when that player was taken in the 6th round.