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Bolts’ RB question: Veteran or rookie?

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    C.J. Spiller

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    INDIANAPOLIS — The Chargers are, for the first time since the start of the past decade, in the market for a running back.
    While indications are that they will look to the draft to replace LaDainian Tomlinson, there are reasons to be wary of handing over the running back job to a rookie.
    The Chargers don’t have time for a project.
    Whoever they bring in needs to help keep their immediate window of opportunity propped open.
    Running back is actually a good spot, relatively speaking, at which to need immediate contribution. While there are new blocking schemes and more demands on a running back moving from college to the NFL, assimilating as a running back is in numerous ways simpler than, say, quarterback or cornerback.
    “Running back is a position where it’s a little easier to contribute as a rookie,” said John Spanos, the Chargers’ director of college scouting.
    It’s also a good time to be searching for such a player, as the group of backs coming out of college is considered to be strong. None of the top backs are expected to go too high, either, meaning one should be available to the Chargers when they pick at No. 28 in the first round, and at least some in the first cluster are expected to last until they pick again at No. 60.
    “There are a lot of good running backs entering the draft this year,” said Ryan Mathews, who wore No. 21 at Fresno State as a tribute to Tomlinson. “We all have different running styles. You can’t pinpoint one of the best. We all have our strong points.”
    The top-rated back in this draft is Clemson’s C.J. Spiller. At this point, almost two months before the draft, Mathews is considered a possible first-rounder but more likely to go in the second. The same is thought of Cal’s Jahvid Best and Georgia Tech’s Jonathan Dwyer.
    Another group — including Mississippi State’s Anthony Dixon, USC’s Joe McKnight and Stanford’s Toby Gerhart — are considered worthy of being taken within the first 100 picks. (The Chargers’ third selection comes at No. 91.)
    “This is one of the deepest running back classes I’ve seen in a while,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “You don’t necessarily have to pull the trigger in the first round.”
    The Chargers have never felt they had to.
    Although they selected Tomlinson with the fifth overall pick in 2001, they grabbed Michael Turner in the fifth round in 2004 and Darren Sproles in the fourth round in ’05.
    It is, in fact, an oft-repeated adage in the NFL that running backs can be found throughout the draft.
    Perhaps no team can preach that as assuredly as the New York Giants, whose top two backs, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, were taken in the fourth and seventh rounds, respectively. Jacobs, a 2005 draftee, gained 835 yards in 2009 after two straight 1,000-yard seasons. Bradshaw, drafted in 2007, gained 778 yards in ’09.
    That said, in that the Chargers need a significant contribution right away from their new running back, history says they will need to pull the trigger earlier rather than later.
    There have been 106 running backs selected in the past five drafts. Of those, just seven gained 1,000 yards in their rookie season. Five of those seven were first-rounders. Seven rookies gained at least 700 yards in their first season, and five of those were first-rounders. Just two players taken after the third round gained more than 476 yards in their rookie season.
    Long-term, too, history suggests that the first three rounds are where major contributors are found.
    Should now read: Of the 49 backs who have rushed for at least 1,000 yards since 2005, 40 were originally drafted in the first three rounds. A total of 23 were former first-round picks, 10 were second-rounders, and seven were third-rounders. Two were taken in the fourth round, one in the fifth, two in the sixth and one in the seventh round. Three were undrafted.
    It is somewhat rare for a rookie back to carry a large load.
    Just 10 of the 106 drafted running backs even rushed 200 times in their rookie season, and seven of those were first-rounders. Just four rookie backs drafted after the third round carried even 100 times.
    Spanos pointed to the proliferation of tandem backfields as a reason rookie backs might not have big numbers.
    Should they be able to retain Sproles, who is eligible for free agency, the Chargers would be set up well in that regard. If not, they will essentially reconfigure their backfield.
    Their options would be to bring in a veteran back to take some burden off the rookie, give Michael Bennett a larger role or utilize fullbacks Jacob Hester and Michael Tolbert more.
    Chargers head coach Norv Turner compared the situation a rookie would come into with the Chargers as similar to the offense Joseph Addai came into with the Indianapolis Colts in 2006 when he carried 226 times for 1,081 yards.
    The goal is not necessarily to draft the next Tomlinson. It is to draft a player who can contribute.
    “A big part of it is the setting he’s put in,” Turner said of a rookie running back. “If you put a guy in a strong offense with a lot of weapons with a quarterback that is capable of helping a young guy understand what he has to do … ”
  2. CraziFuzzy

    CraziFuzzy BoltTalker

    Nov 24, 2006
    This, like all statistics, is to be taken with a grain of salt. Id argue that the REASON the first rounders contribute more yards isn't necessarily that they are better backs, but that the teams that DO draft a RB in the first round, and the teams that REALLY need a back, and immediately put the ball in their hands. If a team waits til the 3rd or later to draft their back, they are usually drafting a returner, or backup back, so of course, production in the run game will be lower. It's more about who's doing the drafting, than who's getting drafted.

    That said, I'd be fine with SD drafting a guard or tackle in the first, and putting off filling LT's worn-out shoes later down the list. A new, top tier lineman would have a much better net effect, by boosting our existing (remaining) backs, and a third round runner, than would a first round runner behind our existing line would.
  3. HollywoodLeo

    HollywoodLeo Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2006

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