RB Movers (Post Draft)
By Sigmund Bloom
May 2nd, 2011

Moving Up

  • Cedric Benson, FA, Bernard Scott, Cincinnati - The Bengals were looking at Daniel Thomas as a target in the early third round, but the Dolphins beat them to the punch in the late second. With that development, head coach Marvin Lewis said re-signing Cedric Benson will be a top priority when business opens again in the NFL. Bernard Scott has an Ahmad Bradshaw-type profile as a very effective back who is not trusted by his team to carry the load but could play his way into that role anyway. The lack of a rookie back drafted earlier than the seventh round means that this duo should be your Bengal backfield again this year.

  • Knowshon Moreno, Denver - Everyone and their brother expected new Broncos head coach John Fox to reconstitute the two-back approach he had used back in Carolina with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, especially with the Broncos having two second-round picks. Instead, the team didn't take a running back all weekend. Moreno may still have to contend with a free agent pickup, but he is the unquestioned lead back in Denver at this moment. Remember the name Jeremiah Johnson, a young back who performed well in the same backfield with Stewart back at Oregon. Johnson is the most talented RB on the roster after Moreno right now.

  • Ahmad Bradshaw, FA, Brandon Jacobs, NY Giants - The Giants only placed a second-round tender on Bradshaw as a potential RFA, but they didn't address his position in the draft until the seventh round. Speedster Da'Rel Scott was compared to Willie Parker by GM Jerry Reese, but I doubt he has a chance to prove it any time soon as Bradshaw should be brought back and Jacobs has seemed open to contract restructuring to stay with the Giants. The team could have grabbed Mark Ingram in the first or Mikel LeShoure in the second, or any number of quality backs in the third/fourth, but instead they seem to be content to go forward with their 2010 backfield.

  • Steven Jackson, St. Louis - Many in the media insisted that the Rams were going to take a back in the top 100 picks to lighten the load on Jackson (and lengthen his career), but head coach Steve Spagnuolo and GM Billy Devaney didn't seem to be worried about Jackson, and it ends up they were telling the truth. In fact, the Rams didn't even draft a running back, which means Jackson should resume his role as one of the last every-down backs in the league this season - but in a much more productive offense than he has had in a long time with the rise of Sam Bradford and addition of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

  • Marshawn Lynch, Seattle - The Seahawks could have brought in any number of interesting talents at RB with three picks between 75 and 107, but they stood pat at the position, leaving Lynch as the likely clear lead back again in 2011. On top of that, they spent their first-round pick a player widely regarded as the best run-blocking tackle in the draft - James Carpenter.

  • Ryan Torain, Washington - Some might see the Redskins drafting two RBs (Roy Helu and Evan Royster) as a bad development for Torain, but the Redskins still didn't take a back early, selecting both rookies on the third day. Perhaps the better category for Torain is "not down as far as expected", because head coach Mike Shanahan did say that the rookies will compete with Torain to start. I would have been much more sure of Torain losing that fight if the Redskins had drafted Mikel LeShoure or Daniel Thomas in the second round.

  • LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay - The Bucs kicked the tires on Mark Ingram among other backs in the 2011 draft, but they only drafted power back Allen Bradford in the sixth round, leaving Blount with a clear path to the lion's share of carries again this season. Cadillac Williams or another free agent will be brought in to play passing downs, but Blount will have little competition on first and second down.

  • Moving Down

  • Chris Wells, Tim Hightower, Arizona - No back lost more on draft weekend than Wells. Only two years after taking the Ohio State product in the first, the Cardinals surprisingly took Ryan Williams in the early second at #38, saying he was the 15th ranked player on their board. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt also cited Tim Hightower's ball security problems in contrast to Williams not fumbling in the last two years when talking about the choice. Wells has been 100% physically for almost none of his pro career, and if that trend continues, Williams will take over this backfield pretty quickly.

  • Jahvid Best, Detroit - Best's stock took an unexpected huge hit only a year after the Lions traded up into the first round to snag him. They moved back into the second round this year to take Mikel LeShoure, a size/speed specimen who will keep Best from being a clear lead back for the foreseeable future. The whole Detroit offense is looking pretty explosive, so Best might not be down as much it feels at first, but his value was torpedoed no matter how you cut it. Even LeShoure is down from pre-draft expectations because his destination seems to offer no primary back possibilities.

  • Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, FA - With the Dolphins giving up a third, fifth, and seventh round pick to get him, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Daniel Thomas will be the lead back in Miami. GM Jeff Ireland said to not rule out Brown or Williams being brought back, and indicated that there is still "work to do" at the RB position, but expect Thomas to basically be "the man" for the Dolphins. His action figure comes with a first-round pick Mike Pouncey sidekick to open up holes in the interior offensive line.

  • Benjarvus Green-Ellis, FA, Danny Woodhead, New England - The "Law Firm" was effective and Woodhead was a great story, but the Patriots clearly aimed higher at RB on the second day of the draft. Second-round pick Shane Vereen can play some of each back's role and should be the most valuable New England back this season, and third round pick Stevan Ridley is basically a new and potentially improved version of Green-Ellis. The depth chart at RB appears to be murky, but you can use that to your advantage to get Vereen cheap.

  • Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, Chris Ivory, New Orleans - Make no mistake, the Saints didn't give up a second and next year's first to continue running a committee at running back. Mark Ingram will be given every chance to be the workhorse, letting the air out of the balloon of all three of their returning backs. Thomas was re-signed to a four-year, 12 million dollar deal, head coach Sean Payton says he would be surprised if Bush didn't return, and Ivory should start running again soon after successful lis franc surgery, but this is Ingram's backfield. Expect at least one of the incumbent backs to get traded or released - probably Bush who tweeted "It's been fun New Orleans" after the Ingram pick.

  • Felix Jones, Tashard Choice, Marion Barber, Dallas - Barber is as good as gone and Choice will likely be marooned as the third string back once again with the drafting of Demarco Murray in the third round. Jerry Jones said that Murray was the top player on their board "by a round" when they chose him and that he considered Murray over second-round pick Bruce Carter. That means Murray should also get a shot to unseat Felix Jones as the starter. No matter how many times they say it, the Cowboys actions show that they don't see Jones as a feature back.

  • James Starks, Ryan Grant, Green Bay - Whether you backed the late-surging Starks or soon-to-be-back Grant, the RB battle in Green Bay seemed to include these backs, and these backs only. The Packers messed that up by drafting the big, speedy Alex Green in the third round. Green will likely start out in Brandon Jackson's old role, but he'll keep Starks from having claim to the future of the backfield all by himself, and he could cut into Ryan Grant's workload from day one.

  • Joe McKnight, Ladainian Tomlinson, New York Jets - All of the offseason buzz about McKnight's progress died down when the Jets took Bilal Powell in the fourth round. Powell is a hard-nosed back who can usurp McKnight's chance to be the change-up for Shonn Greene and lead back when Greene misses time. Tomlinson should remain with the Jets this year according to NY Daily News beat writer Manish Mehta, but his importance is diminishing.

  • Donald Brown, Indianapolis - Not only is Joseph Addai expected to be back in free agency, but Brown now has to contend with a tough between-the-tackles back in fourth-round pick Delone Carter. The organization has given off few indications that they believe Brown will live up to his first-round pedigree.

  • Javon Ringer, Tennessee - The Titans let undrafted free agent LeGarrette Blount slip through their grasp last year, instead relying on Ringer to be Chris Johnson's sole backup. This time around they took size/speed back Jamie Harper in the fourth round, which spells the end of Ringer's time as a potential jackpot pick to stash on the bench in case of injury and clear Johnson handcuff. Harper is also an outstanding receiver, so he should get on the field some in his rookie year.

  • Anthony Dixon, San Francisco - Dixon was set up to be the primary backup to Frank Gore, who can't seem to make it through a full season healthy, but the team drafted Kendall Hunter in the fourth round. GM Trent Baalke did say that they want to bring Gore back after his contract expires next year, but in the event that they don't, Dixon won't be the only back on the roster that they've developed in the last few years.

  • Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to bloom@footballguys.com.

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