Inside The Bills

Just handful of backs that can do it all

Posted by Chris Brown on May 4, 2014 – 9:43 am

On today (Sunday) we took a closer look at the popularly held contention that running backs are devalued because the NFL is now a passing league. While we found statistical evidence showing the value of the run game in today’s NFL is as healthy as ever, Carolina GM Dave Gettelman did make a good point on the lack of ‘do it all’ running backs.

“I think that the typical NFL run game is very different from the college run game so there’s an adjustment for those guys,” Gettelman said last week. “Eddie Lacy comes out of Alabama and that’s a prototypical NFL run game. There are fewer guys coming out with that kind of background.
“The position has been de-emphasized at the college level and it’s a tough adjustment. The other thing is blitz pickup is a huge issue. It’s big. What’s happened on the college level is those running backs aren’t doing any blitz pickup stuff. That takes a lot of time. You take a running back in the first round he better be a three down guy right now and there better not be any question in your mind that he can figure out the blitz stuff because it’s a real problem. It’s a real issue.
“The number of running backs that come out of college with legitimate blitz pickup ability, it’s scarce. They’re rare. They really are. There are some guys you can watch 10 tapes on and they never pick up the blitz. Third down, let me run my arrow, my circle or my screen. It’s a big problem.”
Now backs like Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde and Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk do have a good amount of tape showing their pass protection skills. LSU’s Jeremy Hill is another that has been asked to do it, but wasn’t quite as effective in the eyes of most scouts. There are a handful of others in the draft pool, but for those that don’t have that on their resume it becomes another projection for scouts and that’s a guessing game. And scouts like to guess as little as possible.
Not surprisingly, Hyde, Hill and Seastrunk were all backs who made pre-draft visits to the Bills.
ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay believes the value at running back this year is very good even though we might only see one or two come off the board in the second round.
“There’s still value there and for some teams there’s more value than others,” McShay said. “There were five backs in the second round and two years ago there were three in the first and two in the second. We’ve averaged five in the first two rounds the last few years, but I think there will be 11 backs from the end of the second round to the end of the fourth round and that’s a high number. There are a lot of good backs, but not great backs that would go in the first round.”

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