An effective fullback should be capable of doing several things well: power running, blocking for the quarterback, and especially blocking and creating running lanes for the runningback. Fullbacks can be used in several different ways; for example, Lorenzo Neal used to clear the way for Ladainian Tomlinson, bulldozing over Raider linebackers–and, if you’ve never seen it, I suggest YouTubing it; it’s quite a sight to see! Other times, they can be used to run the ball just as much as blocking–such as the Chargers did with Mike Tolbert, hence the nickname “The Human Bowling Ball.” After the Lorenzo days, we picked up Jacob Hester and an undrafted Tolbert which worked just fine. Last season, after cutting Jacob Hester and allowing Tolbert to walk, we have only Le’Ron McClain [Update: and Chris Gronkowski]. I wasn’t sold on the McClain signing and neither should you, based on his stats and visual performance. McClain has been nothing more than a below average fullback, only a decent pass blocker, and not even close to a decent run blocker. Even with the ball in his hands he did nothing to impress. This upcoming season McClain, will receive over $3 million and will be the second highest paid fullback for his less than spectacular performance. Although Gronkowski is related to the New England Patriot tight end with a massive motor, he has been on four teams in four seasons.
Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt (finally spelt it right!) might be able to utilize McClain correctly. With the newly implemented zone-blocking scheme, a fullback with more quickness and foot speed is necessary–someone similar to Jacob Hester, who is no longer with the team. Let’s all say it together, “Thanks Norv!!” Remember it was Mike McCoy who picked him up mid-season to the Denver Broncos. Hopefully, the Broncos (now without McCoy) don’t have a place for Hester and cut him at the end of pre-season, but in the meantime here is a list of top fullback prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft we could potentially target in the 6th or 7th round.
- Kyle Juszczyk – Great hands and a potential aerial threat in Philip Rivers’ collection of weapons. Led the Ivy League last year with 8 touchdowns, 705 yards with 52 catches. Good lead blocker with strong lower body push.
- Lonnie Pryor – A smaller fullback, 6 foot, 227 pounds, more of a fit in McCoy’s system. Explosive, strong, athletic player known to lunge at tackles to defend his own teammates. I like him the best!
- Zach Line – Another small fullback, 6-foot, 230 pounds, good hands and better known for his running abilities; could be asked to do multiple things, much like Tolbert or Hester were.
- Tommy Bohanon – Played both fullback and tight-end in college, big and strong, but not the fastest runner. Tom Telesco has voiced the need for team speed.
I believe that Danny Woodhead will be able to recklessly crash the line, drag a few linebackers, and gain a couple a yards; but with a starter like Ryan Matthews, he’ll crash the line, break a collarbone and fumble. Therefore, a good fullback must be put in place. So, should we keep McClain as the starter, cross our fingers for Hester’s availability, or draft an incoming rookie?