Arizona product Ka’Deem Carey is the perfect combination of strength, speed, and nimbleness. His low center of gravity provides him with great balance, his stiff arms are effective, and he is an expert with the stutter step, faking out two or three defenders with one move.
Carey is also a very smart player, who understands where he needs to go by what direction blockers move initially. He has a decent lean, but could run more with his head down. In addition to his other favorable features, I also really like his blocking. He does his best to protect his quarterback on pass plays, going toe-to-toe with smaller defensive players and using chop blocks when he is outmatched. He also has great hands, which he uses to rack up receiving yards. His 349 rushing attempts last year attest to his endurance.
However, Carey does need to be more disciplined. Though the charges of misdemeanor assault were eventually dropped, he allegedly knocked his pregnant ex-girlfriend to the ground and slammed her fingers in the door because she wouldn’t let him go get a lighter so that he could use drugs. Then he was kicked out of a college basketball game for yelling at event staff and arguing with police. Because he can assume the role of feature back straight out of the draft, a team desperate for a starting back should select him early on, but they will need to keep him on a short leash.
My favorite running back in this year’s draft, despite not being as complete of a back as Carey, is Boston College’s Andre Williams. Williams is a 232 pound bulldozer that leads with his shoulder, plowing through defenders.
He is good at finding running lanes and is hard to take down once he picks up momentum. He is a workhorse back, running the ball 355 times last year. His 2177 yards that year were the 5th highest in NCAA single-season history. He is a red-zone threat, pushing into the end zone with ease on most occasions. But he isn’t just a goal line threat, as witnessed by his 99-yard NCAA record setting run… though that play did technically start on a goal line.
Williams isn’t perfect, though. He needs to work on ball security, as he fumbled ten times while at Boston. His pass blocking could also use improvement. The fact that he only has 10 receptions in four years means that whichever team takes him will need a different change of pace back, as Williams is no Jamaal Charles. He can start as a rookie and should go to any team that is in the market for a power back.
The third best option for a team in need of a running back is LSU’s Jeremy Hill. Hill is a vertical runner with good agility and great speed. He lets his blockers do their job. He is also very fluid when he runs and he moves different parts of his body in different directions making it hard for defenders to anticipate his cuts. He doesn’t always make the best decision after receiving the handoff but he doesn’t hesitate, which I like.
Soft hands allow him to receive out of the backfield. As an added bonus, he has only fumbled once in two years. Don’t let his name fool you, though; Hill has a mountain of character faults and legal woes. He was arrested and charged with simple battery in connection with an off-campus fight in a bar parking lot. This violated the probation that he earned after being convicted of carnal knowledge of a minor, who happened to be a fourteen year-old girl. Though most people rank Hill second behind Carey, I don’t like his lack of self-control, which manifests itself off of the field.
The Browns will probably use their second round pick to nab Carey, as they are the only NFL team without a viable starting back on their team. The Dolphins need a power back to complement current starter Lamar Miller, who is faster and has good hands, so it only makes sense that they select Williams with their second pick.
I’m going to have to say that the third team to draft a running back will be the Carolina Panthers. DeAngelo Williams isn’t going to be back after 2015, so it makes sense to draft his replacement. Hill would fit in well in Carolina.
After Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s horrendous performance last year and his simple assault charge from earlier this month, the Ravens may take Hill earlier in the second round before the Panthers get the chance. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Ondo is a member of
the class of 2014.