Jan 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Eddie Lacy (42) runs with the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium. Alabama won 42-14. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Recapping part one of this topic, we discussed how the Chargers could fix their 27th ranked running offense by signing one of the available free agent RB’s this offseason.
Should the Chargers choose not to fill that void through free agency, they may very well pull the trigger in the middle rounds of the draft on a rookie running back.
In the last several years of the draft, it has been proven that the stock on Rookie Running Backs has dramatically plummeted. With the exception of Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Willis McGahee and the up and coming C.J. Spillner, most rookie RB’s taken in the first round never really live up to the hype! The Chargers already know this, they have a former 1st round walking china doll named Ryan Mathews in their backfield. This upcoming season is a make or break (not collarbones) year for Mathews, as fans and front office are still waiting for the battering ram of a back he was at Fresno State to finally arrive and STAY HEALTHY! Unfortunately, Mathews is no lock to play through a full season and the back-up running backs last year couldn’t pick up the slack. So where do the Chargers find a spark to their running game?
The 2013 NFL draft has some prospects at the Running Back position that the Chargers could be interested in, in the middle rounds.
Since Eddie Lacy is the only running back in this draft with a first round grade he will likely be off the board by the time the Chargers use their 2nd pick. Giovani Bernard out of North Carolina on the other hand, should be there. At 5’10, 205 pounds, Bernard dominated his conference earning a touchdown in every game that he played in last year. Averaging 6.7 yards per rush for a total of 1,228 yards he was also a key element in the passing game totaling 490 yards for five touchdowns.NFL analyst Bucky Brooks compares Bernard to LeSean McCoy, he is extremely hard to tackle in the open field and has the capability of making big runs.
Stanford’s Stephan Taylor is considered a sleeper in the upcoming draft and could end up being a steal. At 5’9 216 pounds, Taylor proved at Stanford and the Senior Bowl that he can be a three down back with his combination of strength and quickness. While racking up over 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns, he showed excellent ability as a pass blocker, which is a asset that the Chargers could use from a running back.
Le’Veon Bell out of Michigan State, is a big boy running back. At 6’2 and 238 pounds, Bell carried the offense for The Spartans on his shoulders. In his sophomore year Ball outperformed Edwin Baker (Chargers 2012 7th round pick) and became the starting tailback. Coming out of an impressive junior season, Ball ran for over 1,700 yards and twelve touchdowns. While Bell is certainly durable, the question mark surrounding him is does he have enough speed and quickness to produce at the next level?
Wisconsin’s Monte Ball, is a very realistic possibility between rounds two and three. A former Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011, Ball had a slow start to his senior season, but erupted down the stretch running for 1,830 yards and twenty-two touchdowns. He is not a burner but has great vision tremendous balance and hits the hole with a purpose. Ball wants to be a three down back in the NFL, at the combine, he will get his chance to prove what he can do.
Andre Ellington from Clemson is a smaller speed back with home run capability very time he touches the ball. Ellington had great senior year adding weight to his size, making him a more effective runner. At 5’9 and 197 pounds, Ellington could be viewed as a change of pace back at the next level. Oregon’s Kenjon Barner is another running back in the mold of of Darren Sproles. The shifty speed back piled up numbers for Oregon in his senior year, averaging 6.2 yards per carry, over 1,700 yards and 21 touchdowns. He can be a third down back in the NFL with kick return capabilities.
All of these prospects could fill a need in the back field of the Chargers. Only time will tell what Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy view as the best option to fill the void behind Ryan Mathews.
Which running back would you want the chargers to take in the draft? Do you believe any of these rookie tailbacks would be a good addition to our team?
By Jake Hefner