First of all, don’t hold your breath for Brandon Jacobs or Derrick Ward – I don’t see it happening. If they go the veteran route, they’ll just keep Correll Buckhalter. They know him, they already have an idea of how he fits in the offense (Editor’s note: Though its rare they allow him to), and he’ll come cheaper then either of the Giants RB’s.
Oh, and if you think the Giants will let somebody outbid them for Jacobs, you’re crazy. He’ll be a Giant for awhile, believe that.
So, the next alternative, and the one I think is likely, is in the draft. Let’s break down the big names, and throw out a few more obscure ones.
Before we get into specific names, I suppose I should break down what I think the Birds need to look for in a back. Ideally, they would find a bigger back who could take the load off of Westbrook, and fill in for short-yardage situations. However, if they could also find a guy like that who might translate into a feature back in a few years – ‘cuz Westbrook ain’t playing forever – that would be just peachy keen. Alright, to the names.
Knowshown Moreno, Georgia
He’s only played two years of college ball, but he made them count. Each of his two seasons are virtually identical: 1336 yards rushing on 248 carries (5.4 avg) for 14 TD’s in 2007, 1400 yards rushing on 250 carries (5.6 avg) for 16 TD’s in 2008. Those are some damn nice stats, and in ’08, he also caught 33 balls for another 392 yards and two TD’s. This highlight film does an alright job of showing his arsenal of abilities, though I reccomend skipping to about the 1:30 mark, when they actually start showing football stuff.
Holy Hannah – I put a video up! This caveman is cooking with fire, baby.
To me, Moreno runs with good vision, great elusiveness, and pretty good speed. He doesn’t seem to shy away from contact, and he’s a guy that will be solid coming out of the backfield as a receiver. But do I think he’s the best fit for the Eagles? Honestly, not really. He’s not a masher, and his role on an offense will probably be similar to Westbrook’s, in that he’ll be a guy offensive coordinators will try to get into space. If I’m the Eagles, I think I pass. If they even have the option to do so – he very well might be off the board by 21.
Chris “Beanie” Wells, Ohio State
Love this guy, always have. He was affected by injury this past year, which is worrisome, considering that he’s a big, physical back, and you don’t want someone who runs with that style being fragile. When healthy, however, he’s really a difference-maker. He had a pretty good year statistically, despite missing three games, compiling 1197 yards on 207 carries (5.8 avg) for 8 TD’s. But the year that I really think showcases his talent was his 2007 campaign: 1609 yards on 274 yards (5.9 avg) and 15 TD’s. He went over 200 yards twice, burning Michigan State for 221 yards and Michigan for 222. In the National Championship Game that year, he rumbled for 146 yards and a touchdown against a vaunted LSU defense.
I love this guy. He fits my idea of what the Eagles should look for, pretty much to a T. (Editor’s note: Is it “to a tee?” Or, “to a tea?” Some Editor I am…) If he falls to their slot at 21, I think they need to seriously consider bringing him into the fold. He is absolutely, without question, my first choice. To hell with the injury concerns – we wouldn’t need him to carry the load. He would just be a change of pace guy who might get 10-15 carries and would be used in short-yardage situations. Check him out (from the 2007 season).
Dude – I love this kid. If he falls to 21, and the Birds don’t take him, I am going to be seriously pissed.
LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh
The most important thing you need to know about Mr. McCoy is this: he has unbelievable lateral quickness. Really, it’s the number one facet to his game. He’s very fast, and he looks faster than Moreno, though it’s hard to discern because Moreno is playing against quicker defenses in the SEC than McCoy is in the Big East. My concern with McCoy is that he sometimes tries to make too much happen, which works in college because he’s a superior athlete to most of his oppenents, but probably won’t fly in the NFL. (Editor’s note: See Bush, Reggie). To me, McCoy is more of a hit-or-miss pick than the first two: if he comes into a camp dedicated to being the best football player he can be, he could be pretty special. The phyisical tools are there. If his combine numbers are strong, he might creep up the board.
He’s put up really good career numbers: 2,816 yards and 31 TD’s in only two years of work. Kid’s got some talent, no doubt about that.
So those, as of now, are the three big guys – the first round talent, if you will. While Moreno and McCoy may not fit as immediate of a need as Wells would, you couldn’t fault the Eagles for picking up a guy that should be a playmaker in their offense for the future. Should they avoid RB in the first round (which they likely will), here are some guys I hope they consider.
James Davis, Clemson – Didn’t have much of a year last year on a Clemson team that vastly underachieved, but he’s a solid runner who would be a nice compliment to Mr. Westbrook. Just seems to have a natural feel for the position.
Shonn Greene, Iowa – Big, tough runner that fights for every yard. Was only relevant last year for the Hawkeyes, but I guess you could say he’ll go into the NFL fresh. Besides, his 1,850 yards and 20 TD’s on 307 carries will garner attention. He would be a solid option in the short-yardage.
Donald Brown, UConn – I haven’t seen a ton of this guy, but he seems like a downhill, one-cut runner that enjoys a bit of contact. Not breakaway speed, but he’s no slouch, either. Could be a nice physical compliment to Mr. Westbrook. Oh, and did I mention he rushed for over 2,000 yards last year?
Javon Ringer, Michigan State – A nice blend of elusiveness, vision and toughness, Ringer is a pretty well-rounded back. Despite not being the biggest back out there at 5-9 and about 202 lbs, Ringer is a workhorse who gets better as the game goes on.
Jeremiah Johnson, Oregon – Big-play threat. Great speed, quick in-and-out of cuts, nice vision. Reminds me of McCoy, though I don’t think he can carry the load like McCoy did last year for Pitt. The guy I’d really love for the Birds to get is his teammate, LeGarrette Blount, who was a Junior this past year. This is why.
Alright, it’s getting late – I think I’ll quit with those guys. Given my druthers, I’d take Beanie Wells, hands down, as the top guy. But I also think that Donald Brown or Shonn Green would fill a need for the Birds nicely. Even though they’ll probably find the next Ryan Moats. Oh, and Mel Kiper I am not (Editor’s note: But don’t you wish you had his hair?) – this is just an idea of some guys that are out there right now. They could go in a totally different direction. Food for thought. If you’ve got some names you think they should consider, throw them down in the comments. I love a good draft conversation.
(Editor’s note: Be sure to check back tomorrow afternoon, when the Pundit enveils his “Stupor Bowl” drinking game. It’s the fun and drunk way to watch a game you couldn’t care less about! Whoo-hoo!)