The Carolina Panthers own the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. And a prominent voice in Charlotte thinks the organization shouldn't think twice about picking former LSU running back Leonard Fournette.
Charlotte Observer columnist Joseph Person concedes he was leaning more toward the Panthers picking ex-Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. But after the NFL combine -- where Fournette clocked a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash -- Person is convinced Fournette should be Carolina's man.
Fournette weighed in at a surprising 240 pounds, prompting questions about his speed and explosiveness, then turned in a vertical leap of just 28.5 inches in his first physical test Friday, the second-lowest mark for a running back since 2000.
But those questions quickly went on the back burner after the 40-yard dash.
Cook, by the way, ran the 40 in 4.49 seconds but is about 30 pounds lighter than Fournette.
INDIANAPOLIS – When Leonard Fournette stepped to the starting line for the 40-yard dash at t…
"When evaluating a player's athleticism, it's critical to move past the raw numbers and hone in on functional athletic skills," ESPN analyst Field Yates said. "While Fournette's 28.5-inch vertical was pedestrian compared to the full body of his workout, his functional athleticism is zero concern. He's a freight train with a jet pack on the football field."
Person noted Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman smiled when asked about the powerful runner Fournette.
“Big running backs are nice,” he said. “They tend to run people over better than 180-pound running backs.”
Whether Fournette is available at No. 8 is a big question. Several mock drafts have the New York Jets taking him with the sixth pick. Others have Jacksonville swiping Fournette in the fourth slot.
LSU running back Leonard Fournette's first serious question at the NFL Combine came as a sur…