Running back is a crucial position and one that can be hard to get right. Cowboys fans know all about trying to find the right fit or mixture of running backs. Do I have to go through the list? Really? Troy Hambrick, Michael Wiley, Woodrow Danztler, Erik Bikerstaff, Eddie George, Juliuis Jones, Tyson Thompson, Marion Barber III, Felix Jones, and DeMarco Murray(?)
It seems we attract two types of running backs: those with no skill or just ill. Will we find a running back who will stay healthy? Is this question hinged on the play of our Offensive Line? Maybe.
You have slam dunks like Adrian Peterson, players with injuries like Arian Foster and ones that had to overcome limitations like Ray Rice. There will be plenty of players that look great running in their under armour at these combines, but you need to check to see if they are truly beautiful or just wearing SEXY.
In my mind, production and film footage can tell you alot from a running back.
Also, past success can sometimes point the way to future success.
Looking at the Top 20 running backs in the league, 19/20 have atleast one 1,000 yard seasons. (Frank Gore who split time and got injured.)
Almost half of these running backs have two 1,000 yard seasons. Most of the premier runners in the league averaged over 5 yards a carry. (Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Marshawn Lynch, and Matt Forte among them.)
So that is going to be where I start when I am looking for Running Backs. Those who average atleast 5 yards a carry and had 1,000 yard seasons.
After that, you can go through and see who was injured or may have some injury concerns. What are the medical reports saying about the guy and will it be a problem. Running backs have the shortest shelf life in the NFL. Injuries can derail a player before his career begins.
During your research, you will also come across players who were one-hit wonders. How do you grade these players? Depending on your team and what you might need, you can pick and choose what skill set will fit your team. The same can be said about your home run threats. I believe that Giovanni Bernard and Eddie Lacy will be gone before we start to address the issue. So here is what I have.
Healthy running backs who have starts and a track record: Joseph Randle (Two 1,000 yard seasons), Stefan Taylor (Three 1,000 yard seasons), Jonathan Franklin (Two 1,000yard seasons), Andre Ellington (Two 1,000 yard seasons), Zac Stacy (Two 1,000 yard seasons) and Kenjon Barner(1700 yard season and a 900 yard season with a staggering 6 yards a carry). Kenjon Barner is the wild card out of the bunch, but he is also your home run threat. Has shown that he can run the ball and is maybe one of the most explosive players in the draft. LeVeon Bell can also be added to this list, but I do not believe in him. This is my opinion and I am sticking to it. Michigan State running backs and other Big 10 Backs have not panned out in the NFL.
Montee Bell has had concussion issues and that might be devastating. Jahvid Best comes to mind. A promising back who just can not stay on the field. He isn’t the shape of Best, but the head is something that you can not strengthen. Concussions are apart of the game and we are not at that stage of safety not to take in account. Ray Graham, Marcus Lattimore and Knile Davis are also players that have had injuries. They have also had success. Your medical evaluation on these players is going to be pertinent in your decision making. Knile Davis came back last year and looked sluggish at times. Is he really back and at 100%? Marcus Lattimore thinks he is back and ready to take the NFL by storm. We shall see. Christine Michael is another player who was hurt. He had a good performance at the East-West Shrine game and is looking to build on it as the draft moves closer and closer. One point that needs to be known is that he has never been a number one back.
Three other players that are worth noting are Cierre Wood and Cameron Marshall. Marshall did not get an invite to the Combine. This is part of where splitting time with another RB hurts you. Someone is going to get more time than the other and scouts and GMs have limited amount of Tape and work to look at. But the NFL will find you if you have talent. The same can be said of Stephon Jefferson and Jawan Jamison. These are two players that need to have a strong combine and pro-day. Jawan Jamison brings a different dynamic to your offense.
With DeMarco Murray still battling through nagging injuries and trying to stay healthy, we need a running back that not only compliments Murray and our system, but one that can carry the load if he needs to. A back that can be the leading rusher if our #1 misses six games. My favorites are Stephon Taylor, Jonathan Franklin and Andre Ellington all why secretly having a man crush on Kenjon Barner. What can I say? I just love speed and explosion.