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Carolina Panthers

Plenty of talent at running back in 2018 draft class


THE GEORGIA DUO: Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were prized recruits when they came to Georgia in 2014 and now they're both among the best running backs available in the 2018 draft class.

Chubb was a freshman sensation, rushing for 1,547 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. He was on his way to another incredible season as a sophomore until he suffered a devastating, season-ending knee injury midway through the year. Chubb bounced back and was very effective in his final two seasons, but he knew NFL teams would be intent on getting a look at his surgically-repaired knee in Indianapolis.

"Everyone wants to see my knee, obviously," Chubb said Thursday at the combine. "They said everything looks good. They pulled on it and tugged on it and did everything they wanted to do. It was great work by the doctors and good rehab."

Chubb, who checked in at 227 pounds, is a powerful runner with outstanding vision. When asked what he wants to prove to scouts, Chubb, who had just four catches as a senior said, "Probably my speed and quickness and catching the ball."

Michel was productive during his first three seasons, but he took his game to another level as a senior, posting 1,227 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns with a 7.9-yard per carry average.

He's a homerun hitter with tremendous speed and explosiveness. But when asked to name his strengths, the 214-pound Michel went with his intangibles.

"My greatest attribute? Being a team leader," Michel said, "playing for my brothers, playing for the guy next to me."

And he credits playing alongside Chubb specifically with helping him reach the NFL's doorstep.

"Having somebody there as good as he is made me want to better my game every day," Michel said. "He brought the best out of me."

GUICE BRINGS THE JUICE: If you want a running back full of confidence and swagger, Derrius Guice from LSU fits the bill.

The former Tiger, listed at 224 pounds, compared his style to that of Marshawn "Beastmode" Lynch.

"If you don't draft me, I'm going to give your defense hell," Guice said. "As a runner in between the tackles, in my opinion there is no one better than me in that area – point blank. I run hard. I hardly ever get tackled by one person. I'm very powerful. I get a lot of hidden yardage."

In his first two years at LSU, Guice was largely in the shadow of Leonard Fournette, who was taken fourth overall by the Jaguars and had a stellar rookie season in 2017.

Guice was the focal point of the offense in his third and final season, rushing for 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns. There wasn't much of a passing game to supplement his efforts on the ground, but Guice embraced that challenge and saw it as a blessing in disguise.

"I'm actually glad that I had to face a lot of loaded boxes, because you get a lot of that in the NFL," Guice explained. "I watched Jacksonville a lot and Leonard was running against a lot of loaded boxes. I feel like that really prepared me for the next level with that to expect and what to be ready for."

HINES A UNIQUE TALENT: North Carolina State running back Nyheim Hines is an intriguing prospect. The Garner, N.C. native spent two of his three years at wide receiver, racking up 89 career catches in the process.

He showed what he could do as a running back as a junior in 2017, rushing for 1,112 yards and 12 touchdowns.

"I have a foundation at receiver and not many backs have that," Hines said. "That's really what makes me different. I'm dynamic in space."

Hines is a small back, checking in at just under 200 pounds. He said he grew up trying to mimic undersized backs like Warrick Dunn and Brian Westbrook. Carolina's prized 2017 rookie Christian McCaffrey is a more recent example Hines is hoping to follow.

"I like McCaffrey," he said. "I feel like I'm very similar to him."

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