Earlier today I mentioned a few options among the undrafted free agent players that could give the St. Louis Rams an answer to their backup running back question. Of course, the league will actually have to start the season and free agency in order for teams to sign these guys and give them a shot. That may or may not happen. If it does, there's value to be had at running back among those players.
One more name to file away is former Miami RB Graig Cooper. Cooper's last year at Miami was mostly lost as he recovered from an ACL tear in 2009. That combined with slow forty times, 4.6s, hurt his draft stock in a year deep with late round types. Still, Rob Rang calls him one of the best UDFAs out there:
Playing through his recovery for a torn ACL, Cooper was a shadow of his former self last season. Cooper, who had led Miami in rushing the three previous seasons, dropped to only 165 yards and one touchdown in 2010. The elusiveness and burst that he had demonstrated previously was coming back, however, as evidenced by Cooper's strong performance at the East-West Shrine Game and the fact that he ran the fastest 3-cone time of all running backs tested at the Combine (6.66 seconds). Poor medical grades pushed Cooper out of the draft, but don't be surprised if a team willing to take a gamble is paid back handsomely for their investment.
At the Shrine Game, Cooper showed that he still had the burst and speed that made him the team's rushing leader in three years prior. Here's NFL Draft Bible on Cooper's Shrine Game:
[Cooper] was mighty spectacular in his own right by flashing quick feet and the ability to set up his blockers, as he did on a 3-yard 1st-and-goal run in which he was able to find a cutback lane.
On the first play of the second half, the 203-pound playmaker followed his block past the first level and proceeded to elude two oncoming defenders with nifty stutter-step moves to gain the first down.
Along with his injury history and lack of bulk, Cooper's biggest weakness may be his reluctance to block. His failure to pick up a charging defender prevented Taylor from breaking off a nice run while he was trying to break the pocket.
The Rams have some options for finding a backup or complement to Steven Jackson. How they answer that question could have plenty to say about their 2011 season.