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University of Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield (13) runs the ball during the first half of the 85th Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana on Tuesday, January 1, 2019. The Longhorns led over the Bulldogs at the half 20-7. (Photo/Rebecca Wright)

After a 4.78-second forty-yard dash in the NFL combine saw his draft stock plummet, former Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield had to wait until after the draft’s conclusion to find his next home.

He didn’t have to wait too much longer, however, as he agreed to sign with the Carolina Panthers just minutes after the last pick was made.

It’s an interesting signing for the Panthers who already boast one of the best running backs in the NFL in the form of Christian McCaffrey, who finished the 2018 NFL season with 1,098 rushing yards and seven TD’s on the ground, and 867 receiving yards and six touchdown catches.

But McCaffrey isn’t the only obstacle in Holyfield’s path to playing time in Carolina.

What makes this signing even more strange is that the Panthers used their fifth-round pick in this year’s draft on Florida running back Jordan Scarlett. The Panthers now have a trio of former SEC running backs to backup McCaffrey with Scarlett, Holyfield and former Auburn Tiger Cameron Artis-Payne in the backfield.

Holyfield will also have to contend for a roster spot with Reggie Bonnafon and Elijah Hood, who both penned short-term free agent deals with the Panthers prior to the draft.

And yet the Panthers did choose to sign Holyfield as an undrafted free agent, so they must see the potential value in him as a guy who was widely considered one of the better running back options in this year’s draft prior to the combine.

His physical, downhill style of running could be an excellent change of pace in the backfield to compliment McCaffrey’s ability to catch passes and create in open space. Holyfield has already proven he can serve as an excellent power-back when paired with a speed back, as he and D’Andre Swift combined for 2,067 yards and 17 touchdowns for Georgia in 2018.

With McCaffrey as the unquestionable starter and the backfield as crowded as it is, Holyfield will have his work cut out for him as he fights for a spot on the 53-man roster this summer. But if he’s still around come fall camp, expect Holyfield to get a real chance to get some playing time as a short-yardage, power running back in the Panther’s offense in 2019.

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