As a source of all your football information, I want to provide you with a “Draft Cheat Sheet” for each of the positions. This intended to supply you with a variety of sources and information, which will allow you to form your own opinions about the top NFL prospects. The links I provide are to other scouting reports (some are a little outdated), and the writing is my own interpretation of the players after watching some tape on them. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I do know a lot about the game and have seen plenty of football games. With that said, if you disagree, agree, think I was dead on or missed something feel free to comment below or contact me individually as I would love to talk about these prospects more.
There are only the top 2 prospects available at this point as I try to not only handle life, but convert the original website to this new format. My plan is to start with the top 2, based on CBSSports.com’s prospect rankings (opens in new window), and then, as time allows, move beyond that.
I personally feel the running back talent is very deep this year. Trends continue to show that running backs are losing value in the draft setting, which means we may be lucky to see even one running back taken in the first round this year, but this crop of backs has a wide variety of talent, and a wide variety of skill sets. There definitely a couple players here who will be surprise contributors or even stars, like Washington Redskins’ Alfred Morris from last year, and this is where we begin looking for that next talent.
[pane title=”1. Eddie Lacy – Running Back – Alabama”]
Eddie Lacy – Running Back – 5’11” 231 lbs – Alabama
Lacy is a tank. He is thick, strong and runs with power. Arm tackles can’t bring him down and he runs with an “edge”, by punishing defenders who have to try and bring him down. He played in a pro system at Alabama with a very talented line and a very successful coach who has a history of getting players to the pros. Despite his size, Lacy is deceptively quick with the ability to suddenly change direction and shake defenders with his agility as opposed to just brute force. He also is deceptively fast in my mind. He hasn’t run the 40-yard dash for scouts to this point, but I would imagine he would run in the 4.5-4.6 range, maybe a step slower. I believe he plays faster than he would test and he has enough speed to be a factor in the run game when he gets to the open field. He always falls forward and utilizes his athleticism to get every yard he can.
When watching game film, it was apparent that he wasn’t used much on passing downs whether it was as a blocker or a receiver and while he certainly has the size to be an effective pass protector, he is inconsistent despite his natural size, which should be an advantage compared to other backs. As a receiver Lacy was utilized primarily as a back on screen plays. I think he has the ability to be a solid pass-catcher, but it isn’t natural. Some scouting sources out there mention Lacy’s poor decision making in picking a hole, but I was fine with his vision. I will say though, the offensive line he was playing with at Alabama overmatched most opponents they played in a way I wouldn’t expect to see with the team his is drafted to. That isn’t any reflection on his ability as a runner besides that he may not have the holes he did in college. In that case, I’m not sure if he is the type of back that can “make a lot out of nothing” meaning that, while agile, I don’t think he is shifty enough to make plays without some sort of crease. There are also some durability issues despite having a relatively light workload (from splitting time with T.J. Yeldon and last year’s Alabama back, Trent Richardson). Lacy also lacks the top-end speed to break the home-run runs.
I like Lacy. He is definitely a deceptively athletic power back and has the ability to be a solid back in the league. With that said, I don’t see the flashes that made Trent Richardson a top-10 pick a year ago because Lacy is still a power back, first and foremost. I compare Lacy to Arizona Cardinals RB Chris “Beanie” Wells. Both have a power running style and deceptive speed. Wells struggled with pass protection coming out of college and wasn’t used as a receiver much at Ohio State like Lacy. There are also the obvious durability issues. Lacy doesn’t have the same injury history that Wells has had, but both are big backs who take a beating with the style they play. I think Lacy will be a solid to great running back, but I don’t see him reaching into the top-level of backs.
Eddie Lacy Scouting Reports (they open in new window/tab)
Eddie Lacy vs. LSU/Texas A&M (2012) – Courtesy of draftbreakdown.com
Eddie Lacy vs. Georgia (2012) – Courtesy of draftbreakdown.com
[pane title=”2. Giovani Bernard – Running Back – North Carolina”]
Giovani Bernard – Running Back – 5’8″ 202 lbs – North Carolina
Bernard is a solid complete back. He is explosive and elusive, making quick cuts and decisions as he approaches the line of scrimmage and breaks into the open field. He has solid speed and is a great pass catcher out of the backfield after playing in both a pro-style offense (2011) and spread (2012). He good, as far as draft prospects go, at pass protection and also can contribute on special teams where he returned punts.
Bernard is a solid, all around back, so while he is explosive, elusive and fast, he isn’t spectacular in any of those particular areas. It’s enough to make a difference in the NFL, but Bernard isn’t some hybrid of Barry Sanders and Chris Johnson. Bernard has solid size, but there are concerns, from some, about his strength and/or ability to add on strength. He is more of a finesse runner with some power, but does rely on his finesse running more often than not. He also has a red flag due to injuries. He missed some parts of games last season due to variety of injuries and torn his ACL in 2010.
I really like Bernard. He seems like a complete back who has the physical attributes to be a major factor in years to come. He doesn’t have the spectacular aspects of his game that make you think he will be a top-5 back in the near future, but he is a good enough player who is versatile enough to make his mark. Bernard reminds me of Patriots RB Stevan Ridley. Ridley is similar in the sense that he is versatile in the Patriots’ spread offense and has the physical ability and running ability to take advantage of his opportunities running for just over 1,200 yards this past season. I can see Bernard following a similar path.
Giovani Bernard Scouting Reports (they open in new window/tab)
Giovani Bernard vs. N.C. State (2012) – Courtesy of draftbreakdown.com
Giovani Bernard vs. Virginia Tech (2012) – Courtesy of draftbreakdown.com