The Carolina Panthers have some tough decisions to make this offseason. Running back Jonathan Stewart is 30 years old and heading into the final year of his contract, so the Panthers have the option to cut him and save $3.7 million in cap space if they want to inject some new life into the offense.
If the Panthers were to release Stewart, how would they replace him? Well, they already have Christian McCaffrey , Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne on the roster, but there’s another way they could replace Stewart’s production - by drafting Sony Michel in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
WalterFootball ranks Michel as the 7th best running back prospect in the draft class and projects him to be taken in the 2nd-3rd round. The Panthers will have the No. 23 pick in the 2nd round (No. 55 overall)*
12/30/17: Michel is averaging 7.2 yards per carry in 2017 for 948 yards with 13 touchdowns. He would be a three-down starter at most schools, but Georgia has a huge stable of backs whom the coaches spread carries to. Team sources have told WalterFootball that Michel has a lot of fans in the scouting community and is receiving second-day grades. Some even prefer him over Nick Chubb because Michel has done more in the passing game as a receiver and blocker during his collegiate career.
7/17/17: Michel played well in 2016 while serving as the backup to Nick Chubb. On the season, Michel took 152 carries for 840 yards — 5.3-yard average — and four touchdowns. He also had 22 receptions for 149 yards.
At most schools, Michel would be a starter, but he has been Chubb’s backup for the vast majority of his collegiate career. Still, Michel is a rushing threat with deceptive speed. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry in 2015 for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 26 receptions for 270 yards and three scores. Michel looks like he could be a mid-round steal for a NFL team.
Last night against Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship, Michel rushed for 98 yards on 14 carries (7.0 yards per carry) and gave the Crimson Tide fits every time he touched the football. In 2017 he rushed for 1227 yards on 156 carries (7.9 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns. To put it simply - he’s pretty good.
The Panthers already have one dynamic running back in Christian McCaffrey, but if they want to compete in today’s NFL they’re going to need more playmakers. They missed on an opportunity to get one last year when Alvin Kamara was taken by the New Orleans Saints, but the Panthers can avoid that misfortune this year by spending their 2nd rounder on Michel.
2017 was supposed to be the year the Panthers evolved on offense. Now’s the time to continue that process and get better, before it’s too late.
What do you think about drafting Michel in the 2nd round, Panthers fans? Share your thoughts!
Would you like for the Panthers to draft Sony Michel in the 2nd round?
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*- Per WalterFootball