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Beat up RB's

Discussion in 'NFL Draft' started by Boltjolt, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. Boltjolt

    Boltjolt Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has been putting out some good articles lately. Full of info on draft picks:


    In the vernacular of pro football, the best linebackers are those who "find the football," "play downhill" and "drive through on contact."

    What's sometimes forgotten are the running backs on the receiving end of this brutal equation. Ask any running back. They pay a terrible physical price for carrying a ball under their arm.

    A case in point is the class this year.

    On draft boards across the National Football League, the big "X" commonly used to denote injury risk is so widespread that decisions on running backs probably will be made more by the medical staff than the football people.

    "These guys are all beat up," said Eric DeCosta, director of player personnel for the Baltimore Ravens. "There are about five running backs that are first three-round guys that have failed physicals. It's a concern, and I think a lot of these guys are going to fall."

    Anyone who has ever sat down low in an NFL stadium or stood along the sidelines at a padded practice has some feel for the almost unreal punishment that running backs have to absorb as part of their job description.

    "Yeah, they do," DeCosta said. "People don't always understand that, either. Running backs really are bull's-eyes."

    The fact so many runners will enter the league as damaged goods has left few options for clubs looking for a back.

    "None of them will be O.J. Simpson," an NFC personnel executive said. "It's a marginal group of running backs."

    The Journal Sentinel asked personnel men with national orientation to rank their favorite backs on a 1-to-5 basis. C.J. Spiller collected 16 of the first-place votes while Ryan Mathews gained the other three.

    Spiller's total of 92 points led, followed by Mathews (72), Jahvid Best (51), Toby Gerhart (32), Montario Hardesty (18), Jonathan Dwyer (11), Joe McKnight (six), Dexter McCluster (two) and Anthony Dixon (one).

    It's a blend of elusive small backs (Spiller, Best, McCluster, McKnight) and workhorse big backs (Gerhart, Hardesty, Dwyer, Dixon, Charles Scott, LeGarrette Blount). The medium-sized Mathews might have the best shot to emerge as a featured ball carrier.

    "There's a solid group of bigger type backs who can crank out the yards and wear down defenses," Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "That's an important type of back in a two-back system."

    But first the players have to reach opening day in order to contribute, and given their long medical charts it could be a tall order.


    •  Spiller missed just one game in four years but played through turf toe most of 2009. Some teams say it's not a factor; others say it is.

    "That can be a career-killer for a running back," an AFC personnel man said. "Eddie George had that and it ended his career."

    •  Mathews appears to be the "cleanest" physically of the top backs but still had to sit out eight games in his three seasons due to injury.

    •  Best also missed eight games, including four to close last season with concussions suffered in back-to-back games. A year ago, he had elbow and foot operations.

    "Yeah, he's worried about it," said one scout who has talked to Best about the concussions. "Plus, he has a muscle going down from his neck to his leg that bothers him. That's my reservation on Best. He's coming in all beat up."

     Gerhart suffered a torn posterior cruciate knee ligament and missed 10 games in 2007 but sat out just one game (concussion) since.

    "He's been hurt and he will continue to be hurt . . . I don't think he has that quick twitch to get away from the big hits," an NFC scout said. "I feel bad for the kid. He plays the game the way you like it played but, gosh, it will take its toll on him."

    •  Hardesty blew out his knee in 2005, has undergone additional knee procedures and missed 11 games in all, including four with foot and ankle woes.

    "He's injury prone," an NFC personnel man said.

    • Dwyer didn't miss any time in his three seasons but the doctors for one team didn't like one of his feet.

    • McCluster,
    a 170-pounder, sat out six games in 2006 with a concussion-stinger and four games in '07 with a broken shoulder.

    "The realism is 155-to-170-pound running backs don't exist in the National Football League very long,"
    an AFC personnel man said.

    •  McKnight "has been hurt most of the time," according to an AFC scout. Most of his problems occurred in spring and summer so he missed only two games.

    • Anthony Dixon has had collarbone, ankle and finger problems but played every game.

    • Ben Tate also played every game in his four-year career but, like Hardesty, has a style that doesn't portend longevity.

    "He runs too hard," one scout said. "He will play until he gets hurt. He ain't going to last."

    • Charles Scott was clean until a broken collarbone shelved him for the final four games of 2009.

    Summing up the grim picture, DeCosta said, "You talk about medicals . . . this is the walking wounded. It really is remarkable that Emmitt Smith was able to play all those years the way that he played."
  2. ThunderHorse17

    ThunderHorse17 Lone Wolf

    Apr 10, 2010
    Damn nice. This is what I have been saying *to anyone that will listen* that this RB class wont see more than maybe matthews lasting for more than 7 seasons. 7 being as a back in a multi back system that is.

    Still I would like to see 2 backs picked up and given the chance to make that 7 seasons.
  3. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

    Aug 14, 2006
    This is why we shouldn't pass on Mathews if he falls to us. He is the most complete back in this class, he has the best NFL build with the quickness and speed to match, he's also a solid person with no red flags off the field.

    Its unfortunant that this isn't a better RB class, but we need a RB help immediately. And with Sproles' future here in question I think that raises the priority even more.

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