Hester Said He Could Play Any Position, Including Running Back.... Should The Falcons Give Him A Shot To Put His Money Where His Mouth Is?
Devin Hester has already established himself as the greatest return man of all time. But despite being a prolific returner, he is also has a reputation for being just a 1-trick pony; but is that rep on good grounds?
Devin Hester disagrees; shortly after being released by the Chicago Bears, he put his foot down and went on about how he was one of the NFL's best all around players:
According to Hester:
"I can go and play corner, I can go and play receiver, I can play running back, and I can play a little bit of safety, as well as kickoff and punt returner."
Now setting aside returning, let's analyze the rest of his hypothetical skill set, and see if he truly is a jack of all trades.
Cornerback - Got burned by the Rams in '06 Safety - If he didn't succeed as a corner, chances are, a team would not want to take a chance on him being a safety either.
Running Back - Maybe?
This seems to be the one non-traveled road that might actually have a chance of yielding a good product.
Let's analyze this in the most practical way possible:
For one, Hester isn't exactly injury-prone, on average, he's remained pretty healthy throughout his NFL career. That seems to be a point in his favor...
Another thing to consider is that he is a return specialist; and returning balls is sort of like being a running back in a sense, one could say...
Think about it....
As a running back, you are running the ball. As a returner, you are running a ball down a field, just usually for longer distances.
As a running back, you have about 5 lineman, and a fullback blocking for you (and technically wide receivers, sometimes). As a returner, you have have guys blocking for you too, there's just about 10 of them.
As a running back, you need field awareness, and dexterity. Devin Hester's field awareness, and ability to stay healthy most of the time has allowed him to become a prolific return man.
Running Backs, run through, juke out, and cut past other players. Hester's been running through, juking out, and cutting past other players for twice the distances running backs do for quite some time, its how he's posted 20 touchdowns, and 5000+ career yards on returning alone.
The performance of most NFL players, let alone running backs, declines significantly after they hit the infamous "30 year wall". Hester's case, is rather peculiar; if anything, after Hester hit 30 it seems as though he's hit a new prime...or at least that's what his stats say. Though he scored no touchdowns on kick returning in 2013, he posted a career-high 1,436 yards, which is nearly double the stats he's posted in any of his seasons, excluding 2007, and 2011, and nearly 10 times more than he posted in 09.
And perhaps the biggest reason:
It will give the GM's office a better peace of mind.
Let's face it, not too many NFL games are exactly super-high scoring; you know what that means?
Less kick returns. And while that still leaves us with more punt returns, Hester hardly scores on punt returns any more, though he did score once in the 2013 season.
So paying a guy.....9 mil....for 3 years....just to return balls.... is kinda....stupid.
As I said before, Hester may (not is) be entering a new, higher prime; now could be the chance to make use of it, and see how much more of his skill can be put to use. Its better to pay him 9 mil to do 2 things right, not one, right?
Everyone knows the Falcons need to get their run game strong, and rumor has it that they will be targeting a running back in the Draft.
Now I know damn well what I am about to say shall seriously offend Falcons fans, but please bear with me...
No matter who you draft, when they come into the NFL, they will be inexperienced with playing on a pro-level; if the Falcons draft a running back, he will also be inexperienced for a time.
Would it be best ... if the Falcons take notes of what the Saints have been doing at the running back position for the past few years?
The Saints have been using the "tandem" format, when it came to rushing responsibilities.
Then it was Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, and Chris Ivory
Then it was Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, and Mark Ingram
Then it was Thomas and Ingram
Now its Ingram, Thomas, and Khiry Robinson.
...and overall, their running game has been pretty successful up to now.
Now could Hester and the Rookie running back end up sharing rushing responsibilities next year? No one can really say, but it is an intriguing idea...
Hester said he was a Jack of All Trades, and while his claim may not be 100% TRUE, there still may be some merit to it.
But I trust that the Falcons coaching staff will figure that out quickly.
But most importantly, what do YOU guys think?