Note: This series
contains excerpts and sample profiles from my 2006 Rookie Scouting
Portfolio, an FFToday.com publication available
for purchase. For details, sample material, and testimonials
for this compendium of game film study and dynasty league reports,
Running back is easily the position with the greatest opportunity
for a rookie to make an immediate impact on a fantasy owner’s
roster. The list of the best all-time rookie fantasy performances
for tailbacks clearly illustrates this fact:
|Rookie RBs At Their Best
For seven of the past eleven seasons, a rookie runner ended the
season no lower than 8th overall for fantasy RBs. Since rookie RBs
are rarely taken in the first two rounds of re-draft leagues, that’s
potentially quite a bargain for the discerning owner. I remember
drafting Clinton Portis in the 9th round of a re-draft league in
2002. Portis fell this far because he wasn’t the opening day
starter, but it was worth sitting on the player to see if he got
a shot at playing time. I did the same thing with Cadillac Williams
in the 5th round last season and he helped carry my team during
the first quarter of year until my next pick, Larry Johnson, took
over for Holmes.
The key is how many carries will the rookie see? Will the rookie
be the feature back from day one, or will he at least be the sure-fire
backup to the starter? Neither Dominic Davis nor Corey Dillon
were on this list, but their rookie stretch runs as injury substitutes
for Edgerrin James and Kijana Carter, helped many owners win championships.
Last year I provided a historical analysis based on the last
54 years of rookie production tiered by rushing attempts. The
result was the same as with any NFL RB: A rookie that earns 300
or more carries in a season is going to put up fantasy quality
numbers equivalent to a #1 RB in an owner’s starting lineup.
Most of the rookies accomplishing this feat were highly touted
starters from opening day.
Rookies earning 250-299 carries are generally starters from opening
day or prospects that gradually earn more time as the season progresses.
Although the fantasy totals aren’t as impressive as the
300+ carry workhorses, the production is still worthy of a starting
roster spot to an owner. In some cases, these backs assume the
workhorse role at mid-season and carry fantasy owners down the
Talent and opportunity are the keys for a rookie runner to have
an immediate impact. The 2006 class is a deep pool of talent,
but many lack the prototypical size that to be viewed as sure-fire
starters. Still, there are some excellent multi-dimensional threats
among the prospects. Multi-dimensional skill is the theme for
this class of backs. Reggie Bush sits atop the draft board and
has rare talent. He evokes comparisons to Marshall Faulk and Gale
Sayers when the ball is in his hands—he is truly that exceptional.
After Bush, there are a few options just a notch below, and several
more runners with enough skills to make the most of an opportunity,
if given a chance.
|The Best And Worst By Category
||From a standpoint
of sheer force and size, Lendale White and Cedric Humes
are the picks, but in terms of yards after contact and
deflecting shots some of these RBs have more power than
meets the eye. Williams has the strength to push a pile
and Addai is an impressive inside runner.
are extremely difficult to knock off their feet without
wrapping up and they can spin away from a tackle for
impeccable record of fumbles per attempts in their college
careers. Terrence Whitehead and Brian Calhoun get an
honorable mention for their technique.
fly. Bush may have greater acceleration on the field,
but Jones-Drew has great long speed.
spot the cutback and also set up openings in the open
field. Bush is extraordinary in this aspect of running.
jaw-dropping skills in the open field.
the best blocker of the bunch. Jones gets an honorable
mention because he has good technique and is fearless
despite his size. Note: Jones was neither draft nor
signed by an NFL team.
||There are several good
receivers in this class. Bush is a dynamic, downfield
threat and Henderson had the heaviest workload as a
receiver out of the backfield.
Reggie Bush, Saints: One of the
burning questions of this preseason is whether Reggie Bush will
take the league by storm like he did at USC. Will Bush’s
game translate easily to the NFL? Deuce McAllister is no slouch
himself. While most NFL front offices felt Bush was far and away
the best player in this draft, there is a contingent of fans and
fantasy owners that believe Bush is nothing more than a glorified
WR that will bust in the NFL much like Desmond Howard and Peter
Warrick (to some extent thus far).
I’ll tell you right away that I don’t agree this
dissenting point of view among the vocal minority. Reggie Bush
is quite simply, one of the better college players I have ever
seen. When I say “college player,” I mean how he plays
without looking at stats or his perceived level of competition.
It’s how Bush performed that’s key. I’ll
explore how he played as a series of responses to those
arguing the contrary viewpoint.
Lendale White did all the dirty work
inside. People assume that Reggie Bush can’t run
between the tackles because Lendale White was often used as the
short yardage and goal line back. USC’s decision to use
White in these situations has nothing to do with any deficiencies
Reggie Bush has as a runner. Several of Bush’s best runs
were between the tackles where he displayed terrific vision and
exceedingly rare cuts at full speed.
The coaching staff split the workload to incorporate both backs
into the game plan like Auburn did with Ronnie Brown and Cadillac
Williams. The rationale is you rotate two excellent players, keeping
them fresh while you wear down the opposing defense. Another reason
a coach would use both is to take advantage of their strengths.
Just because Lendale White is a powerful, inside runner doesn’t
mean Bush isn’t effective inside. It just allows a coach
to occasionally put Bush in the slot or split wide and utilize
the greatest strengths of two players in the same formation. Bush’s
receiving skills are coupled with White’s powerful style
to keep defenses off balance and drive defenses crazy. As a recruiter,
the coach uses both players to show high school prospects that
they can buy into the team approach, win games, and still get
an opportunity to perform.
Reggie Bush is too small to be a more
than a 3rd down back in the NFL. At the combine, Reggie
Bush was listed at 5-10, 201 lbs. Clinton Portis, Tiki Barber,
Terrell Davis, and Emmitt Smith all weighed less than Bush. Some
detractors of Bush say unlike Smith, Davis, and Barber—backs
that all gained muscle as they aged—Bush’s legs are
too skinny to add extra muscle and he’s already maximized
his upper body development. They say Bush won’t last as
a between the tackles runner due to his physical proportions.
Even if I were to believe these sudden experts in physiology
of football players, and their point about Bush’s potential
difficulty adding weight, Warrick Dunn seems to do pretty well
at 5-9, 180 lbs. I watched enough games to observe Bush finish
runs with a surprising amount of power. He’s no Jerome Bettis,
but he won’t crumple in a heap when an LB or DB puts their
body into him. Bush dies hard on most of his runs, and displays
excellent body lean when wrapped up. Back to the point about Bush’s
size, I’d favorably compare Bush’s body type to Clinton
Portis—and the Redskins’ back has shown little problem
carrying the load for Joe Gibbs.
Bush’s elusive style won’t
work in the NFL. This is crux of the Peter Warrick-Desmond
Howard argument I mentioned at the beginning. If you remember
Warrick and Howard in college, they were quick players with good
vision. Their running styles were predicated on stop-start movements
and reversing their field. These moves left bigger defenders flat-footed
as they found a cutback lane to the open field. When you are among
the top 3%-5% of all college athletes, stop-start movements can
be highly effective for a runner with good vision.
It’s a different story in the pros. NFL players are much
better in pursuit and possess enough short field burst to bring
down a runner that attempts a cut back. The speed of the game
is too fast for a player to come to a complete stop without someone
catching up to him in most situations. There have only been two
players that have been able to use this skill in the NFL consistently
and effectively in the past 15 years: Barry Sanders and Michael
Desmond Howard did make the adjustment to become a very good
special teams player, which was also the case at Michigan. Howard’s
issue had more to do with his skills as a receiver. Warrick has
demonstrated he can be a good NFL receiver when healthy, but he’s
nowhere near the breakaway threat many imagined he’d be
while starring at FSU.
No one should compare Reggie Bush’s running style to Peter
Warrick or Desmond Howard. It’s true Bush has made some
dazzling open field moves that involve show-stopping reversal
of field or stop-start moves which earn him a lot of face time
on late night highlight shows. But the most impressive aspect
of his running isn’t what he can do against overmatched
competition with his speed. What has scouts and draft analysts
so enamored with Reggie Bush is his ability to make sharp cuts
at full speed.
Most runners have to come to a full stop to make a lateral cut.
The elite runners have to slow down or change direction with 3-4
steps, but can do it fast enough to be dangerous in open space—O.J.
Simpson was a great example of a slasher (I know, insert tasteless
joke here) with this skill. Laurence Maroney also has this type
of elite cutting ability. Then there are the mutants. Just like
Barry Sanders and Michael Vick are mutants with the power to start-stop
without anyone catching them, Reggie Bush can burst through a
hole at full speed and change direction with just one step. The
only other runner to do this regularly was Gale Sayers.
If you watch ESPN, you’ve probably heard Tom Jackson compare
Reggie Bush to Gale Sayers. If you’ve never seen Gale Sayers,
ask your father or grandfather how good he was, or go to the library
and find a copy of an NFL Films episode that profiles his record,
6-touchdown performance. However you feel about Jim Brown the
person is your business, but he is still rightly considered of
the greatest three runners of all time. In my book, he is still
the best over the course of a career. If you are a football fan,
and even just a casual historian of the game, you have to respect
Jim Brown as a player and connoisseur of runners. Jim Brown was
in awe of Gale Sayers’ as a runner.
So what should we expect from Reggie Bush this year and beyond
if he lives up to these expectations? Deuce McAllister is recovering
from an ACL tear, so it’s highly unlikely the Saints incumbent
starter returns to pre-injury form in 2006. McAllister will play
but don’t expect him to gain anything more than 1000 yards,
at best. Especially when the Saints have the luxury of a healthy
Reggie Bush on the roster. If McAllister looks good, a 50-50 or
60-40 split in carries favoring the New Orleans rookie seems reasonable.
A 40 to 50-reception season also seems within the realm of possibility.
Bush may be one of the better receiving prospects in this draft.
His ability to separate, adjust to the ball in the air, and use
excellent technique to catch the football is unique among backs
in this draft class and several others in recent years. I believe
1200 combined yards rushing/receiving—around 200 carries
for 850 yards (a healthy 4.25 ypc) and 350 yards through the air—is
a reasonable expectation for a player of Bush’s skills.
That makes him at least as effective as Cadillac Williams in 2005,
the rookie at the top of my list of RBs last year.
Joseph Addai, Colts: The most common
summarization of Addai I heard is “He does every thing well,
but nothing great.” If that’s true, then I think Addai
does a lot of things really well. It is hard for people
to fathom a first round draft pick is worth such a grade if he
shared time with a committee of backs in college. But I believe
Addai does something great: He makes the critical plays in a ballgame
with and without the ball in his hands. I watch a lot of SEC football,
and Addai wasn’t always flashy but he was most often the
player that made the big play in the 4th quarter. Whether they
were short yardage runs, big blocks, or receptions, Addai rose
to the occasion in situations with a high degree of difficulty.
This is a football player with a high level of intelligence and
on-field awareness. He is a very physical runner with speed, wiggle,
and an all around game as a blocker-receiver. His skill sets are
similar to Edgerrin James. While not as good of a short yardage
back as the former Colt—few are in my opinion—Addai
is more of a game breaker.
The current talk is Addai will split time with Dominic Rhodes.
They will initially limit Addai and Rhodes to certain packages
of plays within the offense. Even if this turns out to remain
the case, I believe Addai will outplay Rhodes to the point that
Indianapolis will give him more to learn this year. Addai is a
smart risk in rounds 4-6 of most drafts if you don’t have
a second RB or aren’t completely sold on the #2 RB you selected.
Expect Addai to be the main cog in the backfield before the season
reaches the halfway point.
Lendale White, Titans: I was critical
of White leading up to the draft. His weight gain and questionable
effort in certain game situations were reasons I gave him a lower
grade than he would have earned purely on skill alone. The adjustment
wasn’t enough to warn others to “stay away,”
but it did give me reason to put him behind 2-3 backs he might
be better than if he shows true dedication.
The questionable effort had to do with what I defined as complacency.
USC was an offensive monster. Their offensive line was often a
dominant unit. White had several touchdowns where he ran untouched
through holes between the tackles in red zone situations. The
problem is I saw plays where White entered the game in these down
and distance situations and promptly got stuffed in the backfield
on the first attempt. When studying these plays in more depth,
I discovered White didn’t use his immense power to make
a hole, but appeared to run with a high pad level into the line
as if he were expecting a huge lane to showboat on the way to
the end zone. There were also plays where White went down easier
than expected when hit in the upper legs or waist.
Despite these criticisms there were many examples of Lendale
White bouncing off defenders and wreaking havoc with his size
and quickness. White has great feet for a big back and regularly
cut back across the offensive formation to gain first-down yardage.
I am skeptical White can do this with the same level of success
in the NFL, but he’ll be quick enough to find some cut back
lanes. He just won’t be pulling any reversal of field ala
Marcus Allen against the Redskins in the Super Bowl.
The pairing of White with the Titans is a terrific match for
his skills. Jeff Fisher loves to use the power running game and
the addition of center Kevin Mawae should stabilize a promising
unit. Chris Brown has been the up and down incumbent starter.
Brown isn’t a strong short-yardage runner, and durability
is a continuing issue. As of writing this feature, Brown has been
the subject of rumors involving a trade to a more RB-needy team.
If this occurs, it’s a big vote of confidence for Lendale
White, Travis Henry, and Jarrett Payton as the Titans depth chart.
It will also mean White will not only see the short yardage and
goal line looks, but he’ll get a shot to carry the ball
20+ times per game and wear down opposing defenses. If Brown remains
a Titan, look for White to be a part time contributor with the
potential of 6-8 scores and some nice games if Brown produces
one of his “great in the first half-absent in the second
half,” that fantasy owners have learned to dread. If Brown
is shipped out of Nashville, White becomes a potential 1200-yard,
double digit touchdown producer.
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers: I
believe Wiliams is the best runner in this draft not named Reggie
Bush. The fact Jacksonville wanted Williams and Carolina’s
John Fox chose him over Laurence Maroney, Lendale White, and Joseph
Addai adds validation to my point. These are defensive-minded
coaches that value the power running game. Deshaun Foster is a
talent, but he was George Seifert’s pick. Stephen Davis
was Fox’s choice when Foster got hurt. Greg Jones was Jacksonville’s
choice despite the presence of Fred Taylor.
Why would two coaches that like the power running game want a
back of DeAngelo Williams’ stature? The answer is simply
“Williams’ stature.” The rookie out of Memphis
is a short, but muscular back with excellent quickness, vision,
receiving skills, and power. Yes, power. I watched Williams carry
two linemen about the combined weight range of 550-600 lbs from
the two-yard line in the 4th quarter of a game—the play
after he just made a long run. If that’s not a display of
power and stamina, then I don’t know what is (and neither
do the two coaches that coveted him). Williams won’t be
the next Stephen Davis, but the point is he is more than able
to carry the load for an NFL team.
Deshaun Foster is the starter and Jon Fox has made it clear the
UCLA alum will get every chance to shake the injury bug he’s
suffered since his transition to the pros. Still, I think it is
more likely Foster is playing for a second contract, and an opportunity
to start elsewhere. Foster can be a great help to Carolina now
and have the luxury develop Williams at a comfortable pace and
utilize his talent as a receiver and change of pace back in 2006.
This should become more apparent as you watch Williams in limited
time this year. If the Colts selected Williams he would have been
my highest rated RB as an impact rookie. If Reggie Bush is a comparable
player to Gale Sayers, then I will compare DeAngelo Williams to
Tony Dorsett. If you’re in a dynasty league, and already
have two strong starters at RB, I strongly suggest you consider
Williams despite the fact he’s not slated to start this
Laurence Maroney, Patriots: Each
of the players I have listed thus far has question marks about
something: stature, skills, or character. From this standpoint,
Laurence Maroney might be the safest back in the draft. While
I did see some inconsistency on occasion, Maroney could turn out
to be the most successful back in this draft class. There is little
question the Golden Gophers star can move the chains as well as
break the long run and he is an underrated receiver out of the
Here are two samples
of scouting profiles on Maroney from the 2006 Rookie Scouting
Portfolio. This should tell you enough about his game to make
an educated decision on the Patriots draft pick. While I believe
Corey Dillon still has enough left in the tank to be a good fantasy
starter in 2006, Bill Belicheck will likely incorporate Maroney
as a change of pace runner if the rookie demonstrates a grasp
of the playbook. Remember, Dillon was a great performer in 2004
and still posted respectable totals in 2005, despite playing with
a leg injury. But if Dillon experiences a sudden decline or gets
hurt again, Maroney is good enough to take the job and keep it—much
like Dillon did as a rookie with the Bengals some time ago.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars: If
you are going to compare Maurice Jones-Drew with another contemporary
NFL player, don’t say Darren Sproles. A more favorable comparison
will be Falcons starter, Warrick Dunn. The rookie from UCLA has
a good chance to be another exception to the rule when it comes
to the likelihood of the NFL having a productive starter under
5’9” tall, and weighing less than 210 lbs.
The obvious question about Maurice Jones-Drew is that he’s
5-6 and has repeatedly missed time due to minor injuries. From
the standpoint of physical dimensions, if Maurice Drew were 5-10,
he’d probably be close to 220 pounds if you use his current
proportions (of course what do I know, I suddenly didn’t
become a physiologist like some of the Reggie Bush detractors).
If Drew had these proportions, the NFL draft would have had two
backs or rare caliber.
Jones-Drew is special because of his speed, balance, and elusiveness
in the open field. If there is a back that can give Reggie Bush
competition as an open field runner, the Jaguars rookie is it.
The way the North Florida media is characterizing the relationship
between starter and coach, Fred Taylor won’t be in Jacksonville
much longer than this year. Taylor will have to stay healthy,
and post numbers the team, fans, and fantasy owners expected from
the supremely talented runner years ago.
This leaves the door open for Greg Jones and Drew either to take
over the job or operate as a tandem. Either way, the rookie will
have a significant role in the future as a 3rd down back and special
teams ace. That’s great for Maurice Jones-Drew, but an either-or
situation for fantasy owners: Either he’ll be a starter
one day or at best, an Amp Lee type of back capable of being a
situational flex player/starter in point per reception leagues.
Jerious Norwood, Falcons: The Falcons
are very excited about Norwood, a rookie out of Mississippi State
that stuck around when former NFL coordinator Sylvester Croom
took over the program. Norwood was the focal point of a below
average offense in the SEC, but still led the conference in rushing
as a junior. Norwood is widely regarded as the sleeper RB of this
draft class. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen seems to be making a
habit of dubbing an SEC player a sleeper, and he’s latched
on to Norwood as one of his 2006 candidates.
The Falcons’ rookie looks like the heir apparent to Warrick
Dunn, especially with T.J. Duckett the subject of trade rumors.
Norwood is a very fast runner with excellent open field skills.
He’s not a powerful back, but he is big enough to run the
ball inside. Physically, Norwood reminds me of a slightly less
talented Tatum Bell, but with better vision. While Norwood could
step in and surprise this year, I don’t think you’ll
be seeing him in a significant role until at least 2007. He’s
a worthwhile late round pick in a deep redraft, and worthwhile
second round pick in a rookie draft for dynasty leagues.
Jerome Harrison, Browns: No one
really knows what is going on with Cleveland’s backfield.
Rueben Droughns is the incumbent, but his pending off-season assault
case may lead to missing time. Despite the fact he’s a determined
and powerful runner, he may also have the least amount of natural
talent of any back on the depth chart. William Green had one promising
season, but is still attempting to round back into form on and
off the field. Lee Suggs has the skills to be a great feature
back, but can’t stay healthy.
Now add Washington State rookie Jerome Harrison to the mix and
who knows what’s going to happen within 6-8 months. While
Harrison isn’t expected to compete for the starting job
this year, the Browns appeared thrilled to acquire him in the
4th round. This is a back that rushed for 1900 yards last year
and showed excellent quickness, patience, and the ability to string
moves together in the open field. They believe he’ll compete
for the 3rd down role because he’s a good receiver out of
What I didn’t expect to see from the 5-9, 200-lb, runner
was his balance and stamina. Harrison isn’t terribly difficult
to bring down when wrapped up with a good form tackle, but he
does a good job deflecting shots and changing angles to slip a
tackle. I also watched Harrison stay in the game and continue
to receive the ball on consecutive plays after long runs. He literally
carried the WSU offense.
It’s not fair to compare a 4th round pick to a star back
in the NFL, but Harrison’s size, style, and strengths remind
me of Priest Holmes. I don’t project that kind of career
out of Harrison, but he’s definitely a player to watch over
the next couple of years to see how Cleveland’s backfield
shakes out. This is a guy that may have more than meets the eye.
Brian Calhoun, Lions: The Lions
rookie had an excellent season at Wisconsin prior to declaring
for the draft. Calhoun and Harrison are similar runners in style
and possess good hands as receivers. I thought Harrison was a
tougher inside runner than Calhoun. This may have to do with the
fact I saw a very good run blocking line in front of Calhoun and
rarely observed the back gain tough yards after contact. Considering
I only saw a limited number of games, it may not be a fair assessment.
Still, I feel I saw enough to believe Calhoun is best used in
space and is more likely a system back that could perform very
well in an offense were he isn’t expected to create yardage
Sounds like Detroit and Mike Martz’s system is one of the
perfect places Calhoun could have hoped to land in the NFL. I
don’t believe Calhoun has a shot to beat out Kevin Jones,
but I do think Detroit got themselves a back they can trust to
be effective whenever they need to put him into the game. Calhoun
is worth drafting late in re-drafts, but has more value as a mid-round
dynasty selection in rookie drafts.
Leon Washington, Jets: Washington
is a solid runner and receiver. I heard a lot of people touting
Washington as a vastly underrated player, but I don’t think
he has that much upside. He’ll be a capable backup, but
any thoughts of him filling Curtis Martin’s shoes aren’t
realistic. He needs to develop his skills as a pass blocker because
doesn’t take on the blitzing defender with the right positioning.
Washington also carries the ball too far away from his body in
the open field. He has some power for his size, but he does not
have the explosive open field skills that other smaller backs
have to compensate for their lack of great power. This is a player
that I believe will make good plays for a team if used wisely,
P.J. Daniels, Ravens: I listed
Daniels as a project in the 2006 Rookie Scouting Portfolio, but
I also stated I wouldn’t be surprised if Daniels finds his
way into a starting lineup and make it difficult for a coaching
staff to remove him. Next thing you know, the Ravens picked him
and compared him to their former change of pace back Chester Taylor—the
Vikings new starter.
Daniels was a walk-on at Georgia Tech that earned the starting
job. Georgia Tech is not a consistent, football powerhouse, but
they to churn out some excellent prospects from time to time and
play competitively in a quality conference. The team has a former
pro coordinator with an excellent background (Chan Gailey) and
Daniels has shown a lot of skill against some teams loaded with
future NFL prospects. D
There is a lot to like about Daniels’ game. He was one
of the better pass blocking backs I observed on tape this year
and he runs with quickness, balance, and power. He can break a
long run despite his slow combine time, but he’s more of
a grind it out runner. I’d place Daniels in the Stephen
Davis-Mike Anderson mold—a back that can give you the long
run on occasion but is more of a chain mover. Speaking of the
former Bronco, any guess who Daniels gets to learn from? This
situation should be beneficial for the young overachiever to learn
from and older one.
Daniels enters a seemingly loaded backfield, but I think the
way the depth chart looks is deceiving on paper. Mike Anderson
is a short term insurance option if Jamal Lewis doesn’t
return to form. Speaking of Lewis, he’s a power back with
enough seasons in the NFL for fantasy owners to be wary about
him returning to stud status. If Musa Smith had shown anything
thus far, Anderson wouldn’t be in the picture. In fact,
Chester Taylor was a lower pick and outplayed the former Georgia
stand out. Look for Daniels to see extensive time in the preseason
and if he catches on quickly, he could see small opportunities
to play this year.
Unless Anderson or Lewis goes down, I wouldn’t recommend
Daniels as a pick in even a deep re-draft league. On the other
hand, I strongly endorse the Ravens rookie as a dynasty selection
in the mid-to-late rounds of a rookie draft. If his stopwatch
speed were better and he didn’t suffer some minor injuries
that caused him to miss time in college, I think Daniels’
value would have been more at the level of a 2nd or 3rd round
Wali Lundy, Texans: Have you ever
watched a talented runner that was not a good fit for his offense?
Then you must have been a University of Virginia football fan
while Marques Hagans was the quarterback running a spread offense.
When Matt Schaub was under center, Lundy looked like a potential
first day selection, and likely a late first-early second round
pick. Once Schaub became an Atlanta Falcon and Al Groh installed
the spread offense, Lundy looked like an average college back.
Jacksonville sub Alvin Pearman often looked better than Lundy.
That is because Pearman’s skill sets are more suited to
the spread offense. Lundy has quick feet and is a good receiver
out of the backfield, but he doesn’t have the lateral movement
of a scatback to primarily be effective on draws and delays. Lundy
is a downhill runner that is most productive out of the I-formation.
The Texans’ pick is a strong goal line runner and gains
yards after contact. In other words, he’s in the mold of
runners you would often find in offense Houston’s new coach
Gary Kubiak ran in Denver.
Domanick Davis is reportedly having a very slow recovery from
knee surgery so it’s not out of the question that Houston
will rely more on its depth. Vernand Morency is the likely choice,
but Davis’ injury gives Lundy an opportunity to show is
skills this summer. Lundy has experienced his share of injuries,
but none really major.
If he can remain healthy through training camp, he might have
a chance to surprise. Fantasy owners should only consider Lundy
at the tail end of a re-draft if no major names are added to the
depth chart in lieu of Davis’ slow recovery, but they should
increase his value slightly in dynasty leagues.
Andre Hall, Buccaneers: I enjoyed
studying this back. He had an impressive performance against NC
State and their defense of touted prospects upfront. Hall has
great balance, vision, and hands. Many analysts thought Hall had
a chance to go in the mid-rounds, but ended up an unrestricted
free agent pick of the Buccaneers. He has a shot to make the depth
chart as the #3 RB and move up if he shows something this summer
against a consistently higher level of competition.
Cedric Humes, Steelers: Humes is
a bruiser that has a no problem making a hole where there isn’t
one. He goes to a Steelers squad where the retirement of Jerome
Bettis leaves an opening for Humes to compete for a situational
role. He runs a little too upright for a big back, but he’s
a warrior that matches the spirit of the Steelers franchise (he
played last season with screws in his arm).
Mike Bell, Broncos: There are parts
of Mike Bell’s game I really like—he’s a smooth
runner that shows potential to develop as both a pass blocker
and receiver. He gave good effort on an overmatched Arizona squad
last year. He was clearly the team’s best offensive player.
If Denver doesn’t bring in another back, Bell could make
the depth chart. I think he has a chance to impress, but he’s
a guy you shouldn’t seriously consider at this stage, just
keep an eye on his progress.
Taurean Henderson, Vikings: Henderson
looked very good running out of the I-formation at the Shrine
Bowl, but I thought he was merely average against a fast Alabama
defense in Cotton Bowl. The Vikings signed him as a free agent
and I expect Henderson to impress them with his great receiving
skills. But he will have to show a lot more quickness to make
this roster. I think Henderson is a smart football player that
could eventually make a team and contribute, but his best chance
might be the Aaron Stecker route: NFL Europe.
Gerald Riggs, Jr., Dolphins: I
expected so much more from Gerald Riggs, Jr. when he enrolled
at Tennessee. He doesn’t have much of a burst and he doesn’t
break tackles—two things you would expect from this runner
that was so highly touted last summer. Now he’s trying to
earn a roster spot in Miami. Initial word out of camp was Riggs
looked impressive. I’m waiting for the pads to go on, because
he certainly didn’t show in college what he’s showing
now the Dolphins coaching staff in non-contact drills. Maybe the
light has come on for him. At best he earns the #3 RB position
this year—but that would be a surprise.
Damien Rhodes, Texans: The Syracuse
runner came to upstate New York has a big-time prospect that had
moments, but for the most part, underachieved during his career
as an Orangemen. There are parts of Rhodes game that make you
think with more coaching, he could develop into a quality starter
on the pro level. He catches the ball well and displays a nice
combination of speed and power.
The problem is Rhodes lacks vision as a runner. You give Andre
Hall’s vision to Rhodes and the Houston Texans just signed
an undrafted free agent that is going to make several pro bowls.
Too bad the NFL can’t mix and match player skills, or players
can sell each other’s physical skills for transplantation
and a piece of the earnings…then again, maybe it is a great
thing they can’t do this…
Quinton Ganther, Titans: Ganther
is a fine receiver out of the backfield with a straight ahead
running style. He’s built more like a fullback and I wouldn’t
be surprised if the Titans convert him to this position. Ganther
runs with excellent balance, but he’s a straight-line runner
with more creativity in the open field than in the hole.