Future Seahawks at the Senior Bowl: Running Backs - Open Thread

John Clayton mentioned that Seattle might not target another third-down back because they already have Justin Forsett. Maybe Clayton is merely echoing an opinion voiced by a member of the Seahawks. I hope not. I hope this is Clayton's mistake and not an organizational mistake.

Seattle doesn't need a specific type of back to pair with Forsett. If it was comfortable running Forsett into the ground, I think he could contribute 400 touches in 2010. That would be foolish, of course, as it seems all backs suffer from heavy use and Forsett seems particularly prone to wearing down. He's a small power back that initiates contact. Force doesn't have speed to burn. Any speed hampering injury would severely reduce his value, and given his size and style, injury seems inevitable.

But, health be damned, Forsett could do it. He isn't a third down back. A third down back is part receiver,part blocker and part rusher. Forsett can block and receive. A third down back is not a complete rusher. Typically, they run draws, pitches, sweeps, etc. Runs towards the edges or outside the tackle box, and runs that surprise. A third down back doesn't fight through the pile; doesn't align I-formation and power through the hole. Forsett can.

The Seahawks do not need to complement Forsett. He does need to be completed. The Seahawks need to add another running back to team with Forsett and keep both rushers fresh and healthy. It needs to improve the overall depth and talent at running back. He doesn't have to be a three down back, thunder, lightning or any other specific classification. He just needs to be good. And preferably, cheap as possible.

Running Backs:

Joique Bell: I watched a few highlight videos of Bell just to get a feel for him. I have never seen him play on a snap-to-snap basis, but then few have. First I watched highlights from his freshman year. He looked gangly, slow and not terribly athletic. In more current videos, Bell pounds the rock through a sea of Division II arm tackles. He doesn't appear to have any kind of breakaway speed, and was constantly redirecting horizontally to try and create a favorable angle to the end zone. I don't see legitimate power either. In fact, Wayne looks every bit the Division II player he is. And at 23, 24 before the 2010 season, he doesn't have much room to develop. He was a grown man playing among modestly talented kids, and dominated through volume. Bell had 326 touches in 11 games.

LeGarrette Blount: Blount is performing very well. That doesn't surprise me. In fact, Blount should be performing well, because he's matched against largely inferior competition. If he wasn't fixing a damaged image, he wouldn't be here. He's a better prospect than that.

Blount's participation in the Senior Bowl is just good business. He needs to shake hands and prove he's not a violent miscreant. Blount will prove a lot more by running at the Combine. His game is all about size, speed and power. He's not shifty and he's not a receiver. He looks a little like Jamal Lewis to me. Lewis had speed. When he lost that speed, he ceased being an effective NFL rusher and retired.

Stafon Johnson: Johnson is the kid that dropped a 275 pound barbell on his neck. Remember that? Well he's back, in Pog form. Moving on from that little bit of trivia, Johnson could be a fantastic bargain. His injury was life threatening, but maybe not career threatening, and if he can recover enough to play, he should have all the tools intact that made him a very successful runner at USC. He's shifty, has smooth acceleration and perhaps the best vision in his class.

In 271 rushes over four seasons, Johnson lost only 39 yards. To put that into perspective, Jahvid Best lost 32 -- against the UCLA Bruins. In one game. Spiller had 59 as a senior. Blount had 25, in three games. Joe McKnight lost 40 yards in 164 rushes as a junior.

Johnson is the third down back Carroll shouldn't select. He doesn't have straight-line speed and his skills as a receiver are underdeveloped, but he's young, has good potential, is schooled in Alex Gibbs system, and might fall right out of the draft. If you're looking for a feel-good story with real potential, watch Johnson. He has pro potential and a solid shot of being a Seahawk.

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