Continuing with my series of looks at undrafted free agents that the Seahawks could be targeting, I want to profile a few running backs and fullbacks that are still out there. I've included a short synopsis of skills/knocks based on what I see and take from multiple scouting reports on each player from outlets like the NFL Combine Page, CBSSports, FFtoolbox, Sideline Scouting, and more.
As the Seahawks backfield stands right now, Marshawn Lynch is the feature back, Justin Forsett and Leon Washington are the change of pace backs, and Chris Henry is a developmental depth running back. Lynch's deal includes one more season, as does Forsett's. While the Hawks have depth at RB in 2011, the outlook for anything beyond that is pretty flimsy. Washington is a great running back and is under contract for the next few years, but he's not a typical every-down back so the Hawks may just be looking to pluck a running back or two from the UDFA ranks to develop for down the line.
Here are a few that could be in play:
RB Darren Evans, Virginia Tech
Evans is a physical, downhill runner that could have some potential for the Hawks because he's hits the hole hard, protects the ball, and is good after contact. He'd fit into Pete Carroll's zone-blocking scheme that emphasizes that the runner choose a crease in the defense and hit it hard and fast, something Evans did at Virginia Tech while backing up 2nd rounder Ryan Williams. He's a power runner but he also has some shake-n-bake moves in his repertoire that can make him tough to bring down. Evans doesn't have breakaway speed but he'd be a dependable ball carrier on first and second down and in goal-line situations. Downsides include he isn't a great receiver out of the backfield and he's not going to outrun anybody if he gets past the defense.
RB Mario Fannin, Auburn
Has an ideal size to speed ratio at 5'10, 230 and runs a 4.38 40. He's got solid hands and runs routes well as the Tigers would line him up in the slot at times. He's never carried the load, playing backup mostly at Auburn, however, so he's a bit of a question mark. He's a hard, powerful runner and is shifty for his size. He'll need to work on ball security but some team will take a chance on him for his potential.
RB Derrick Locke, Kentucky
Locke would be more of a change of pace back, but based on pure athleticism and power, could be a very low-cost option for the Hawks. He's one of the faster backs in the nation, a former high-school track star, but packs a lot of punch into his 5'8, 190 lb frame. He too has lined up in the slot to run routes and has experience returning punts and kickoffs. He wouldn't be expected to carry the load but could be a very shifty, versatile scat-back in the mold of Darren Sproles.
RB Noel Devine, West Virginia
Another scat-back prospect in the mold of Sproles, Devine is extremely shifty and quick, and has a knack for making big plays. He uses his small stature (5'8, 190) to hide behind blockers until the last moment before bursting upfield for positive yardage. While his size dictates that he's not going to break a lot of tackles, he does break a lot of ankles with his agility and shiftiness. He's very strong for his size as well - he put up 225 24 times and can also line up out in the slot on pass plays. Can return kickoffs and punts. Versatile threat in the return game and on 3rd downs. Has a history of personal issues and was adopted by Deion Sanders in high school (huh?).
We know that the Hawks basically went without a fullback on the roster in 2010 so at this point who knows if they'll invest there in 2011. If they do decide to sign a true fullback to their roster there are a few good options still available.
FB Henry Hynoski, Pitt
An old-school fullback that specializes in blocking but can also be a threat in the pass game. At 6'0 257 he looks like a true fullback but has very little experience rushing the ball with only 37 attempts in his 3 year career. He'd be a special teams contributor in addition to doing his part in lead blocking.
FB Shaun Chapas, Georgia
Another solid, leadblocking fullback at 6'2, 247. He's a good athlete for his size and has very good hands catching passes out of the backfield. He's a leader on the field and is extremely coachable so he could catch on with a team somewhere. He's a fierce competitor that can be relied on in short yardage situations but may not be an every down type of guy.