2017 NFL Draft: Carolina Panthers hope Christian McCaffrey can do it all

By The Sports Xchange  |  April 28, 2017 at 6:57 PM
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When Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis announced the Panthers' first-round pick, he called Christian McCaffrey a wide receiver and running back.

While that may have been a slip of the tongue -- McCaffrey is officially listed as a running back -- he'll likely play plenty in the slot. And jump in on punt returns.

"I'm a football player," McCaffrey said Thursday night when asked which position he tells people he plays. "I'll go where they need me."

In 2015, McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders' record for all-purpose yards in a season. And, in three seasons at Stanford, he had 21 rushing touchdowns while adding 10 scores as a receiver and two more as a returner. So it's no wonder the Panthers, who desperately need to surround quarterback Cam Newton with more weapons, were enamored with McCaffrey even before he turned heads at February's combine.

Not since Cam Newton in 2011 have as many mock drafts nailed a Panthers pick like this one. Yet what had become pretty clear the past few weeks was still fuzzy for some as late as Thursday afternoon when a report labeled Carolina's interest in McCaffrey a smokescreen.

But the Ron Rivera-Dave Gettleman regime doesn't really do smokescreens.

"He's a guy we targeted and that we were hoping to get," Gettleman said, "and the Good Lord smiled down on us."

When asked whether the Panthers considered trading back from No. 8, which would have opened the door for another team to grab Gettleman's target, he replied: "There's been a lot of action."

Then, as a smile began to form, "But we said no."

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