Much of the 2022 offseason has been made about the team's QB room, and rightfully so, with it being one of the most important positions on the field. However, many national analysts have neglected to shine a light on the potential of Carolina's dynamic running back room, especially considering the return of one of the league's most electric athletes, Christian McCaffrey.
In 2019, the Stanford superstar burst onto the scene s a third-year back, establishing himself among the top at his respective position, becoming one of only three NFL players (Marshall Faulk, Roger Craig) to record a 1000 rushing - 1000 receiving (yards) season. Since then, it's been downhill; McCaffrey has only played in 10 out of 32 possible games extending from 2020 through the 2021 season. His unavailability over the past couple seasons have seen his name mentioned in trade talks, casting doubt on the giant 4 year $64 million deal he signed following the 2019 season. However, it seems that this season, the front office has surrounded CMC with a stable of running backs that can offer more than a breather for the offensive weapon.
In 2021, the Panthers drafted Canadian-born Chuba Hubbard from Oklahoma State in the fourth round. While many expected him to serve as a reserve, the rookie found himself starting 10 games in place of an injured McCaffrey, racking up 786 yards and 6 touchdowns from scrimmage. He certainly wasn't the security blanket that Sam Darnold needed, hence the six drops, but he performed as well as could given the situation. Aside from another injury to the former first round pick, Hubbard should provide quality carries as a nice change of pace back for Ben McAdoo's up-tempo offense.
The signing of D'Onta Foreman should only help solidify a mostly balanced position group that has been lacking a true power element since the days of prime Jonathan Stewart. Stepping in for an injured Derrick Henry last season, the former 2nd round pick was able to showcase his talents to the league for nine games, totaling 566 rushing yards, 123 receiving, and three total touchdowns. The presence of a goal-line back that can reach over the pylon consistently should hopefully garner better results from a lackluster 2021 redzone offense.
Underneath the trifecta of McCaffrey, Hubbard, and Foreman, remain Spencer Brown, Darius Bradwell, and Baylor Bear John Lovett. I don't expect any of them to necessarily make the team this season consdiering the options already available but Spencer Brown is a sneaky good darkhorse candidate to find himself on the roster come September. He flashed when given the opportunity and will have another year under his belt.
These are my thoughts, but I'd love to hear yours! Who are you most excited to see hit the field this season? I didn't even discuss the rushing attack coming from our quarterbacks but they are options as well. Please leave your toughts and opinions in the comments below for a healthy discussion regarding the potential of Carolina's running back room.