Running Back

Photo by Ted Kerwin


Quick Bursts: Michael Dyer and the Context of Patience – A common refrain that ESPN radio host and Footballguys writer Cecil Lammey used to describe former Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray before the Chiefs drafted him was that he was ‘too patient.’ Can a running back be too patient?  I think the answer is yes, but it is a thorny judgment call. So is evaluating plays one by one rather than seeking an overall context.

Emerging Talents: New England RB Shane Vereen: I’m going to show you what I like about Shane Vereen and if he stays healthy, why he’ll have a significant impact for the Patriots in 2012. The links below will take you to the specific points of the highlight package I’m referencing throughout the article.

RSP No-Huddle Series: Eagles RB Bryce Brown: Bryce Brown was the top-rated running back entering college football in 2009 – over Trent Richardson.The Eagles made him a seventh-round pick to insure no other team could sign him. Ability-wise, Brown is nowhere near a seventh-round grade: he’s a big back with soft hands, good burst, long speed, and finishing power.

RSP No-Huddle Series: New Mexico State RB Kenny Turner: Turner played for the New Mexico State Aggies and, like his best friend [Titans RB Chris Johnson], he was switched from running back to receiver, back to running back. I only had a chance to watch a half of a game tonight against Georgia, but here are three notable plays the reveal some good things about his game. All of them are pass receptions.

RSP No-Huddle Series: Western Kentucky RB Bobby Rainey: The first person who tipped me off to Bobby Rainey was writer and researcher Chad Reuter, who worked at CBS Sportsline and NFL Draft Scout. So it was a pleasant surprise last fall when he saw Rainey play, liked him, and thought of me when wanted another opinion on him.

RSP No-Huddle Series: Washington RB Chris Polk: The RSP No-Huddle Series was something I initially created to write about prospects likely to get drafted in the late rounds, if at all. I’m still going to do more of those players, but sometimes there are plays you remember that you want to share with people. One of these plays is a pass involving Chris Polk that reveals more to his game than usually meets the eye…

Tight Quarters: LaMichael James:  Yesterday, I examined James in a short-yardage situation. Today, I’m looking at a play that requires an ability to carry the football in tight quarters. This is an aspect of James’ game where I think he shines.

Looking for Mr. Dunn: LaMichael James: One of the running backs of the past 20 years whose game I had grown to admire was Warrick Dunn. Since Dunn, there hasn’t been a back that has been as small who carried the bulk of the running game on his shoulders – even if it was just for a year or two.

Temple RB Bernard Pierce: All About the Angles: Wednesday night, I Tweeted that there’s little better than watching a good angle blocking scheme in action. It’s like watching Joe Frazier walk right up to his opponent and deliver an uppercut that floors him. The adrenaline rush that comes from watching that kind of moment is similar to a runner and offensive line taking it to a defense. Bernard Pierce and the Temple offensive line did just that in this year’s New Mexico Bowl.

David Wilson Vision Series:My study of strengths, weaknesses, and gray areas of his game:


Maryland RB Davin Meggett – I finished studying Maryland RB Davin Meggett’s performance against the Miami Hurricanes and I discovered that someone posted all of Meggett’s touches from this game. So I’m providing my analysis of Meggett’s performance with these highlights.

Emerging Talents: James Starks– Let’s play a game. Below are the career stats of every starting running back (not counting short-term subs) for the Green Bay Packers since former running back coach Edgar Bennett was himself a Packers running back.  Look at the stats of these four runners and see if you can find a broad pattern when it comes to the team’s organizational decision-making.

Emerging Talents: Ryan Mathews Ryan Mathews’ 2011 breakout potential is a no-brainer. If not for a high ankle sprain in Week 2, Chargers head coach Norv Turner foresaw a 250-carry, 40-catch rookie year from the heralded Fresno State prospect. Last year, Mike Tolbert did a fine job splitting the load with Mathews as the lead back. But for those people who believe Tolbert will be a hindrance to Mathews’ production, consider the skills both runners bring to the team.

2012 First Takes: Three RB Prospects – Throughout the 2011 college football season I will be providing initial impressions of prospects based on my research for the 2012 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. Knile Davis, LaMichael James, and Ryan Houston are discussed here.

Top UDFA Running Backs (2011) – Due to the lockout, 2011 could be more difficult than usual for undrafted free agents trying to make it in the NFL. Yet, there will be players with the talent, the skill, and the work ethic to enter a camp and make the most of their limited opportunities. This week, I’m profiling offensive skill players who I believe have the ability to develop into quality professionals if they have been training hard enough in this crazy offseason to hit the ground running. Profiles of these players are excerpts from my publication, the 2011 Rookie Scouting Portfolio, available at

The RSP Blog’s Top 20 QB Prospects (2006-2011) Part I For entertainment value only, here’s my top 20 quarterbacks if all of them were rookies today. The rankings are based on a combination of high upside and correctable issues without the benefit of hindsight analysis. Hence, the entertainment value. This is not a dynasty league list.

The RSP Blog’s Top 20 RB Prospects (2006-2011) Part II  One of the most frequent requests I’ve heard from readers over the years is to rank players at their position across several draft classes. It’s an entertaining thing to read, but I’ve always been reticent about doing it. There are a lot of approaches I could take with the ranking process and I’m not sure if any of them will feel good enough to stand behind. For the sake of entertainment here’s RBs 10-1 as I see them right now.

The RSP Blog’s Top 20 RB Prospects (2006-2011) Part I – One of the most frequent requests I’ve heard from readers over the years is to rank players at their position across several draft classes. It’s an entertaining thing to read, but I’ve always been reticent about doing it. There are a lot of approaches I could take with the ranking process and I’m not sure if any of them will feel good enough to stand behind. For the sake of entertainment here’s RBs 20-11 as I see them right now.

RSP Flashback and Player Q&A: Cowboys RB Demarco Murray – Murray may not go on a streak that Corey Dillon did over a decade ago during his rookie year or like Jerome Harrison’s 2009 stint with the Browns, but the third-round pick of the Cowboys is not a fluke. He was my No.4 runner in the 2011 Rookie Scouting Portfolio and a runner I saw up close at the Senior Bowl practices. He was the best back on the North squad and I heard two former running backs-turned running back coaches label Murray as a potential thoroughbred.

Talented Understudy: Lions RB Jerome HarrisonIf you distill the role of a running back to that of purely a ball carrier, I am a huge Jerome Harrison fan. I’ve always been. However, I see Harrison’s NFL career as a sad story. Starter talent as a pure ball-carrier rotting on the vine.

RSP Flashback: Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles – Charles is now one of the most exciting runners in the NFL, but for the first couple of years it was far from a guarantee that it was going to happen. Here’s one of the evaluations I did on Charles when I evaluated him for the Rookie Scouting Portfolio. For additional samples of player evaluations go to this page on this blog.

Who is Phillip Tanner?If you watched the Cowboys-Chargers preseason game last night then you saw a rookie running back putting on a display of what Cecil Lammey likes to call, “running hot.” There were probably 4-5 running backs in this game that ran hot. However, if I were to provide a photo next to Lammey’s definition in the yet-to-be-written football dictionary the image of Cowboys rookie Phillip Tanner running helmet-less through the Chargers secondary would be my first choice.

Eerie Coincidence: Ryan Williams– This morning a friend of mine on Twitter pointed out my profile of Cardinals RB Ryan Williams in the 2011 Rookie Scouting Portfolio.   Please understand that I wasn’t predicting injury or that I’m claiming that I knew all a long that Williams would suffer this fate. I’m sharing this analysis summary published in April because it’s simply too weird of a coincidence that the nature of Williams’ injury was exactly the one I mentioned. And I seriously mean coincidence.

Gartrell Johnson: Excerpts From the RSP – Yesterday in Suwanee, Georgia, third-year running back Gartrell Johnson took first-team reps for the Atlanta Falcons while Michael Turner rehabs from groin surgery. Johnson, a 5’10, 218-lb. runner from Colorado State was my eighth-ranked RB in the 2009 Rookie Scouting Portfolio, above James Davis, Andre Brown, Mike Goodson, Devin Moore, and Jeremiah Johnson.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: