I feel like someone might have been starting a series of posts where they analyze the different players available when we pick and if we might have an interest in them. I decided to jump the gun a bit and give an analysis on some lower-rated running backs and see if we might have an interest in them.
I don’t think we will even consider a running back until the fourth round. We have our starter in Michael Turner. We have a very capable backup in Jason Snelling. Jerious Norwood will not be returning. This opens up an obvious need for a receiving threat out of the backfield. I believe Turner had a career high in receptions this year, and I think it was barely over ten. Snelling has the potential for receptions, but I’m not sold on him having the “explosive” capability I think we would be looking for. Same thoughts apply to Ovie Mughelli, who is establishing himself as one of the best fullbacks in the NFL. So, I’m using CBSsports.com NFL Draft to get an idea of when prospects will be drafted, along with my personal opinions. Guys like Mark Ingram, Ryan Williams, and DeMarco Murray will not be included due to them having a grade in the first two rounds. So here are a few options TD might be looking at.
Kendall Hunter Oklahoma St. 5’7” 199 4.48-40 – The guy has been successful at Ok. St, He is #10 on their all time rushing list with 2,633 yards. Averaged just over six yards a carry in his career (6.02). Two-time academic achievement award winner (always a plus in my book). Has been clocked as high as 4.38 in the 40. Has returned kicks and is known as a receiving threat as well. My biggest problem with him? He is expected to go in the third to fourth round range. If he runs a 40 under 4.45, he will definitely go in the first three rounds. I would love to have him, but I think the price tag might be a little high.
Noel Devine West Virginia 5’7” 160 4.34-40 – Who hasn’t heard of Noel Devine? The guy came into the college ranks as a top ten recruit. Considered one of the fastest players in college football, his strength is also well documented. He is a home run threat every time he touches the ball. Averaged 8.6 yards a carry as a freshman, showing he is incredibly elusive. Can return kicks and catch the ball out of the backfield. Negatives? Devine has a few off the field issues that might raise a few red flags for some front offices. His durability is also an issue. Projected as a fifth round pick, that will probably jump after his work at the combine. My take? I hope the best for the kid but I don’t see him having a future in the Falcon organization.
Dion Lewis Pittsburgh 5”7” 195 4.52-40 – Had a tremendous freshman season, posting the second best season in Pitt history with 1,799 yards (first goes to Heisman trophy winner and national champion Tony Dorsett and his 2,150 yards in 1976). He is not the fastest guy for his size, but he is definitely elusive. Only played two years of college ball so his wear and tear is very limited, although he did have a lot of touches in his two years. Averaged nearly two receptions a game, but had a tendency to fumble the ball. Needs to run a good 40 time to establish himself as a potential scatback in the NFL. Considered a fifth to sixth round pick. I like the guy and his toughness, but he seems like a risky pick to me.
Derrick Locke Kentucky 5’8” 186 4.36-40 – Everyone seems to be jumping on the Locke bandwagon. I have had the guy on my radar since back in December (http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2010/12/10/1868282/friendly-falcoholic-future). Known as an all-purpose back, he is definitely a threat to score whenever he gets his hands on the ball. He had a fantastic showing at the Senior Bowl, which could have bumped up his stock a bit. Back in December, I wanted him in the fifth round. CBS has him as a seventh round pick. I think after an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl and a good combine, Locke could go as early as the fourth. I still say he is probably worth it. He gets me so excited, I want to come up with corny sayings. “Come on TD, put this guy on Locke; We need to Locke this guy up….” Ahh, I guess you know where my heart is.
Roy Helu Nebraska 5’11” 216 4.51-40 – This is more of a random pick than the others, but for some reason, I really like this guy. He might not run the quickest 40, but I think his game speed in pads is better than most. Lost more fumbles than anyone would really want, which is probably a big reason why he is rated so low. But if Tiki Barber can learn how to hold on to the ball, I’m sure he can as well. He isn’t elusive like the others, but I think he is still a home run threat. The likelihood we draft him is slim to none. But I like the guy, and I think he deserves to at least be mentioned in this conversation.
Darren Evans Virginia Tech 6”0” 220 4.56-40 – I think this 40 time could be off for this guy. In game speed, he looks a lot quicker than a 4.56. To sum up his career in one sentence: He was redshirted a season, put up phenomenal numbers as a RS freshman, missed a season as a medical redshirt, split carries with Ryan Williams in his final season. The key points: He has been injured, but that hasn’t seemed to detract from his ability. He is a team player; he split carries selflessly and did whatever possible to help his team win. He might be four years removed from high school, but he has maybe a year and a half of carries. A guy with his maturity and a lack of wear and tear sounds like an attractive deal to me. Would be a late round selection at best, but I think we should consider taking a risk on him, especially if we could somehow get him to the practice squad.
Well, there you go, a few names to talk about in a friendly fashion. All of them are successful players, otherwise no one would be talking about them. Will any of them be the next Arian Foster? (Darren Evans fits the profile pretty well) I would be great with the next Darren Sproles. Maybe one of these guys will become Falcons, maybe more than one. Regardless, we only have one more football game to watch until the countdown to the draft begins. Might as well let the debating begin!