FanPost

Clearing up the Running Back Position

20121214_mjr_su5_075

via cdn1.sbnation.com

As the season nears, the running back situation seems to be the most unpredictable position on the depth chart, producing a bunch of recent articles here, here, here, and here. So what I wanted to put together was a summary of the situation and see if there's anything extraordinary hiding in plain view.

With the departure of Steven Jackson, there look to be three reasonable picks for the spot, and a dark horse candidate waiting behind that trio: Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy, and the oft-ignored Terrance Ganaway. So let's look at what they bring to the table.

There was only one player with significant NFL play time last year, and that was Daryl Richardson. His rushing stats have been mentioned before, but here they are again:

98 ATT, 475 yds, 4.8 avg, 0 TD

To me this gives him a big edge on the rest of the competition. He showed he could handle the playbook and produce early, which might be enough to put him over the top in a position battle that seems so close. But let's take a look at everyone prior to their arrival in the NFL. How did all these running backs compare as prospects?

Statistically, here are their productions in their last years of college:

att

yds

avg

TD

Daryl Richardson

139

825

5.9

11

Isaiah Pead

237

1259

5.3

12

Zac Stacy

207

1141

5.5

10

Terrance Ganaway

250

1547

6.2

21

Two things immediately stick out to me.

1) Daryl Richardson's cumulative numbers are low, but his TD's are still comparable, as is his average. This is because he was sharing the backfield with two other RB's. This might suggest he has a nose for the endzone, seeing as he had at least 60 less attempts than the other RB's but maintained a comparable TD number.

2) Where the F has Terrance Ganaway been hiding. He's got better rushing numbers than any of our other RB's, in every category. I guess stats aren't everything though.

Which leads to the second portion of this post - how do these RB's measure up with each other as prospects? (numbers were taken from NFL.com if possible, but if not, CBSsports.com was used)

height

weight

40 time

Bench

Drafted

Daryl Richardson

5'10"

192

4.47

16

7th (252)

Isaiah Pead

5'10"

197

4.47

x

2nd (50)

Zac Stacy

5'8"

216

4.55

27

5th (160)

Terrance Ganaway

6'0"

239

4.67

x

6th (202)

You can see that there's a pair of quick guys in Pead and Richardson and a pair of big guys in Stacy and Ganaway. Other than that, Pead was drafted much earlier, but none of these guys stick out as physical freaks. At this point, it's hard to endorse or remove any of the RB's in the race.

Lastly, let's take a look at the videos. (Linked below)

Richardson (Rams) - Pead (Rams) - Stacy - Ganaway

There's a lot to look at, but I'll give you my quick takes on each guy.

Richardson is not playing in the SEC, Big 12, or the Big East. He's playing lower level competition and beating them. Quickness and decisiveness stick out immediately. Plays tough through the garbage too.

Pead has great balance, great quickness, impressive top speed, and shows the ability to make gains between the tackles on a consistent basis. If I were ranking these guys on vids, it'd be Pead by a mile, followed by Stacy, Ganaway, and Richardson. Looks like an all star in his vid.

Stacy is surprisingly quick footed. Pretty speedy through the hole. Not a run-you-over guy. Looks like a complete back, though not overly impressive in any one facet.

What sticks out with Ganaway right away is his top speed. For a guy his size, he's pretty solid at keeping a lead on a DB. At the same time, his stats may have been inflated by the style of offense Baylor was running, and RG3 always threatening the defense. Sadly, you can see where he lost time in his 40 - his quickness and acceleration seem like a detriment, and he possesses sub par strength for someone who's supposed to be 239 lbs.

In Closing

I started this post looking to come to a conclusion on who should start, but that's not what happened. The RB battle isn't a mystery, it's actually pretty clear to me now. We have four pretty solid, young, running backs. Will it be best to go all in on one guy to let him get in rhythm with the offense? Or is it in the team's best interest to give some playing time to each player to change the pace on the defense and keep each player fresh? I don't have the answer, but I'll be interested to see anyone of these guys contribute.

Before you go, there's one more guy we should keep an eye on. He was a solid prospect and had good rushing stats as well.

att

yds

avg

TD

Tavon Austin

72

643

8.9

3

height

weight

40 time

bench

drafted

5'8"

174

4.34

14

1st (8)

Tavon_medium

via assets.sbnation.com

Who knows, maybe he'll be the main rusher this year? Won't get any complaints out of me.

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