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Scouting Seahawks RB Vai Taua

The Seahawks signed former Nevada running back Vai Taua on Sunday and released RB Chase Reynolds as they continue their continuous back-third-of-the-roster shuffling. (Reynolds had six carries last Thursday against the Chargers for 8 yards and apparently didn't impress enough to stick -- he was signed by the Rams this week). Taua is actually a guy that some people were talking about here before the Draft as someone to watch, most likely because he carried the rock for 4588 yards and 45 TDs in his career at Nevada. Of course, this came at a lower level of competition at Nevada so should be taken with a grain of salt, but it's an intriguing signing nonetheless.

Taua is 5'10, 215, and at his Pro Day ran the 40 in 4.67. He ran at the Combine as well and posted a mark of 4.65. This lack of elite speed (and agility, per his middling short shuttle and 3-cone times) is probably what kept him off draft boards but he does have some skills that would make him attractive in a zone-blocking scheme. According to scouting reports I've seen he's got power with quick feet and he's the type of runner that is good at picking the seam and hitting it hard. You'll sometimes see obscure runners excel in zone schemes because it doesn't necessarily require the wiggle, escapability, and third gear that the top-tier running backs possess. 

Stick your foot in the ground and run downhill. It's why the Seahawks are giving a long look to Thomas "Tommy Gunz" Clayton. It's probably why they're looking at Vai Taua as well. His acceleration is actually quite good, a 1.6 10 yard split in the 40, on par with about what Leon Washington ran coming out of Florida State, so that initial burst is what they may find intriguing. Paired with his excellent ball security and an ability to break tackles, you could have a good 3rd or 4th running back in Taua. 

Marshawn Lynch will be a free agent after this season and if the Hawks decide not to bring him back (though I get the feeling they'll try to re-sign him), they could be looking to develop a running back or two that they can stash on the practice squad for the year with an eye towards the future. Of course, injuries happen and the Hawks could even decide to keep four running backs on the 53-man roster, so finding the best fit there takes some tinkering. I wasn't particularly impressed with Thomas Clayton while watching the Chargers game this last Thursday, despite his touchdown run, so hopefully Taua will get some carries on Saturday.