With the 2015 NFL Draft now closed for another year, most of us now are left debating on a player or players that Dave Gettleman and the Carolina Panthers decided to select and give our 2 cent's worth on if it was the right move or the wrong one at the time. I want to focus a little on our last draft selection this year, and why this new Panther might end up being the biggest contributor for us from the draft class of 2015.
Who's that 5th round RB you say?
I'm talking about one Cameron Artis-Payne, the under-valued RB Carolina picked up with its final draft pick (compensatory) this past weekend. With the first couple of selections getting the attention, and rightfully so, Artis-Payne could end up having the biggest impact for this team when the dust settles in Carolina's run to the playoffs for the third consecutive year. (Wow! that is awesome to think about, but anyway back to the article.) We all know as Panthers fans first-hand how critical the running game has been to the team's past success, and looking back to the early portion of last season when Carolina's RB's were laid up on gurney's it once again showed that without a solid rush attack the offense floundered.
This offseason, Dave Gettleman let go of an aging RB in the teams all-time rushing leader DeAngelo Williams, and chose to finally make Jonathan Stewart the lead mule in the backfield. One fear lingers in the back of everyone's minds, Stewart showed out great in the last six games, but how long can this last given his continual bout with injuries? Here is were CAP (Cameron Artis-Payne) comes in. Yes if J-stew remains healthy, he is without question the lead dog at the RB position, and Artis-Payne's help in carrying some of the load will only help Stewart keep fresh through a grueling NFL season that he so often has trouble finishing. This is the initial intent of this coaching staff, BUT................
What if Stewart was to go down again for an extended period of time, what would this team do...............
No need for that to happen now, but the foresight of Gettleman to draft a RB in the mold of Artis-Payne prevents Carolina from being crippled by a Stewart injury. He's a player with the physical capability and athletic power who won't be limited by the amount of snaps he can endure, but can truly be a future every down "carry the mail" back . Let's face it, a guy coming off a 1600 yd rushing season as a patient between the tackles runner while playing in the SEC is no slouch. In my estimation this is the more pavement to the road reasoning in drafting a back of Artis-Payne's attributes over a change of pace type players like a Duke Johnson or Ameer Abdullah (don't kid yourself this is what they are), this draft.
Finally in Dave Gettleman's third attempt in drafting the future running back in Carolina, he's selected one that will be the positive addition moving forwards that he hoped Kenjon Barner and Tyler Gaffney would have become. We can all breathe a little easier now knowing that Carolina has a rookie built to get the job done.
Follow me on Twitter @SamSslater96