CHARLOTTE – Rookie running back
Gaffney, the Panthers' sixth-round draft choice, became the team's first draft choice to sign his contract, doing so after the conclusion of rookie minicamp Saturday.
"I believe he's a guy who will come in and help us as some insurance and a guy who's going to fit what we do," head coach Ron Rivera said after the Panthers drafted Gaffney. "When he gets his opportunity, I think can help us."
Rivera joked after the draft that he would have rather drafted a player from Cal – his alma mater - than a player from rival Stanford. There is one disadvantage: Gaffney is the only rookie drafted by the Panthers that's not yet finished with classes, so he won't be on hand when the team resumes voluntary offseason workouts next week.
"Stanford is on the quarter system, so it will be like June 9 before we see him again," general manager Dave Gettleman said. "That hurts. That makes it difficult to work."
But Gaffney is as equipped as anybody to deal with the interruption. Stanford features a similar scheme to Carolina's, and Gaffney is wise beyond his years when it comes to handling blitz pickups.
The 5-11, 220-pounder rushed for 1,709 yards and 21 touchdowns on 330 carries last season after taking a one-year hiatus to play minor league baseball.