Moving Forward: Time to Draft a Running Back!

The first week of March has come and gone. The news has been all about releases and free agency so far so I would like to take this Sunday opportunity to take a peek into the future of the organization.

Of course, I could only be talking about the NFL Draft.

I always wait until the combine results come in before I start thinking about the draft. Everyone should have figured out where I’m going right now. It’s time to start talking about running backs for obvious reasons. Two of our veterans have already been released and Darren Sproles is being allowed to test free agency, so there is a ton of space on the roster. Let’s face it, folks. The position is thin. Of course I will continue to track LaDainian Tomlinson, wherever he may go, and I will keep an outside eye on free agent running backs. However, we all know that we always draft ours young and prepare our workhorse for the way we like to do things. We need to think younger certain positions in order to stay on top.

You may have noticed the poll that I put up asking you to vote for your favorite potential Chargers runner. (Then again, you may not have, so feel free to voice your opinions in the comment section that can be found at the bottom of each individual blog.) I would love to hear your opinions and questions. I love the opportunity to expand on my writing and give some personalized answers or rebuttals.

Unless I hear a cry or two for another contender, I am just going to touch on the main people that I would like to see wearing Charger blue for the foreseeable future.

Let’s take a look at the guy everybody seems to be talking about. Of course I mean C.J. Spiller.

The upside: Spiller is flat out dangerous. He is explosive enough to get big plays and score, and with the team being as pass happy as they are, this will take loads of pressure off of the arm of Phillip Rivers. With our Pro-Bowl quarterback, tight end, and receivers, and a runner like Spiller in the back field, we will be Super Bowl contenders for years and years to come. C.J. shows great hands out of the back field, as well the patience and nose for the hole that he needs to stay upright on his way through the gap. Not to mention that he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds. Second only to Jahvid Best in speed.

The downside: Sometimes Spiller takes just a little too long to find the hole and ends up losing yardage. He also weighs in at just 196 lbs. He needs to bulk up and maybe that would erase his weaknesses in pass protection.

Another thing to note is that the Seattle Seahawks DESPERATELY need a running back and they will most likely take Spiller with the 14th overall pick. It is most likely that we will take either Ryan Matthews, Jahvid Best, or possibly Ben Tate with the 28th overall pick of the draft. Both would be fantastic additions. We could use big strong runners like either of them.

Let’s look at Ryan Matthews first.

Upside: He has good speed, but needs to work on sustaining it over long distances. I list this as a plus because he is very strong. Strong enough to stiff arm his way out of a tackle and fight for extra yardage. If he works on greater speed and endurance as well then he could be a big play threat. Overall he is a VERY productive runner.

Downside: Needs to learn how to play out in space, once he gets to it, and needs to work on catching the ball and pass protection. Mostly picking up the blitz. This must be a priority at the next level.

Moving on to Jahvid Best.

Upside: Incredible speed. He turned in a time of 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which was the fastest of all of the running backs. He is incredibly elusive, with an ability to get through smaller lanes, and despite being just 199 lbs. is not afraid to get physical and fight for extra yardage. Also very productive as a receiver.

Downside: It has to be his size. Despite not being afraid of the contact he wont be able to push the pile in the NFL unless he bulks up and get stronger. That is the only way he would be an every-down kind of back.

Last, but not least, Ben Tate.

Upside: Loves to run downhill and does not waste time. You will rarely get negative yardage out of this guy. He is a wonderful balance of size and speed. He has the potential to be great and a workhorse for many seasons. If he gets even faster and more powerful then he will be a monster.

Downside: Not particularly elusive out on the edge. Needs to get stronger if he is going to survive with that style. He has great speed but needs to work on his cuts and he needs to learn how to make people miss. Otherwise, he has wonderful potential.

I hope this helps you guys stay excited up until draft day. I know I will. Feel free to blow up the comments section. I would love to see this blog get more interactive with you guys.

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Tags: Ben Tate C.J. Spiller Darren Sproles Jahvid Best Ladainian-tomlinson NFL Draft Ryan Matthews Seattle Seahawks

  • Bldgalum

    I read that you look to the combines first..but do you really? I may be a homer, for being a Fresno St. alum, but you don’t seem to know that two of your “downsides” for Mathews are strengths. Scouts praised his pass blocking and catching ability. The reason why they said his stock has moved up was because his only question was speed; well he ran a 4.41 and 4.45. Can he sustain it for long distances? You haven’t seen him play have you? Watch his highlights, he had 7 runs over 50+ yards, three 60+ yard runs against #5 Boise St. Watch his film…you’ll see him run away from Wiscousin, Cincy, Illinois, and Boise; Fresno doesn’t play creampuff football, they like contact. You guys would be geniuses to pick-up.

  • Oscar Navarro

    I agree with Bldgalum, although I am not an avid college fan, I saw enough highlight film to remember Matthews name. He did have a great game against Boise, who from what I read were holding runners to about 100 y/game.

  • Matt

    Hope we get Ben Tate. I played high school football wit home

  • Chris Bowen

    I would love to see Matthews in a Chargers uniform next season. If I didn’t think he would be a good fit then I would have said so. He just isnt as dangerous in the passing game when compared to some of the other combine participants. Spiller and Best have great hands, but Matthews and Tate are the ones that I believe will be NFL ready the soonest. They are the only ones that I spoke of that I believe are strong enough to consistently break tackles in the NFL. He is good in pass protection, yes. However, he has had trouble picking up the blitz in the past. It will only get more difficult in the NFL with the way that experienced top level defenses disguise things. I am in no way knocking Matthews. Just pointing out where he may have a difficult time adjusting. I am loving the replies, guys. Keep them coming.

  • Chris Bowen

    Also, as far as waiting until after the combine before I start thinking about this kind of thing. I like to see the players that have had surgery in the off season post surgery. I also like to see how guys who maybe didn’t end the season on such a high note and how much harder they compete at the combine. It’s little things like this that make a gigantic difference in who goes where and how well they do when they get there.

  • Stu

    Perhaps it would be better to draft a Tackle to play the nose in our 34 defense with our first round pick?
    Maybe Toby Gerhart would be there in round 2.

  • Chris Bowen

    It is one of our needs in the post Jamal Williams era. That should be a second round pick, though. With LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Bennet being released as well, we are down to running back, and that’s Darren Sproles. Who is not by any means an every down kind of back. Since he is all we have at the position, drafting one of the top running backs in the first round is a must.

  • Matt

    What about gartrell Johnson. Wasn’t he our rookie back last year. I thought he was pretty impressie when he got touches

  • Chris Bowen

    He was our fourth round pick, but he was traded to the Giants where he got a grand total of 43 rushing yards. The Giants may have a plan for him. You never know.

  • Webb

    I think it would be in the Chargers best interest to replace Jamal Williams with their first pick of the draft. If the Chargers insist on picking a running back at the end of the first round, it should be Toby Gerhart. Toby Gerhart is similar to Ryan Matthews, but more reliable. He would be the perfect complement to Darren Sproles. We might ever see him slip to the second round because we still have a hard time seeing past color.

  • Chris Bowen

    True, if Sproles ends up staying. Toby Gerhart is an excellent workhorse. I can’t wait to see what happens on draft day. The cool thing about draft going to prime time is that everyone has until the next day to prepare for the second round. It is going to be very exciting.

  • bldgalum

    Wow, the reverse racism card?! Toby is slipping to the second round because he is not as talented as the other top three/four backs. Now, don’t blow up, I think Toby is a good back too; he could become another Mike Alstot battering ram. There are just three or four legitimate RB’s that are all around better.

    • Chris Bowen

      There are several factors that go in to choosing a draft pick. The equation is pretty much:

      Depth Needs + Positional Weaknesses X Pick Value – Drafted Players Already Gone From Board = Best Possible Player for Each Pick

      Your goal is to fill all of your teems needs while getting the best players that are available before somebody else does. You need to be several steps ahead of the other teams and when you are a team like us that drafts low in the first round (28th) and high in the second round (8th) than close attention needs to be paid to every need for every other team in the league. Preparation is time consuming.

      Be sure to check out the Bolt Beat Mock Draft. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.