Road to the Draft…Part Seven – Running Backs
Again, from the outside this would not stand out as a position of immediate need for the Bears. But Garrett Wolfe is a free-agent and I expect (HOPE) that he will not be re-signed. Matt Forte is in the final year of his rookie contract, and the Bears may not be in a position to out-bid another team for him in 2012. And Chester Taylor averaged 2 yards per carry after signing the big free-agent deal to come over from the Vikings. Harvey Unga was taken in the supplemental draft last season, and should push for carries this upcoming season—but he looks like a #2 Rb in this league, at best. So the Bears could be looking for a RB in the upcoming draft as a) a replacement for Chester Taylor; and b) insurance should Forte not be re-signable in 2012. Here are the prospects (Click on the name to see a scouting report):
1st Round: Mark Ingram (Alabama); Mikel Leshoure (Illinois).
2nd Round: Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech); DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma); Daniel Thomas (Kansas State).
3rd Round: Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State); Jordan Todman (Connecticut); Shane Vereen (California).
4th Round: Taiwan Jones (Eastern Washington); Delone Carter (Syracuse); Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State); Jamie Harper (Clemson).
5th Round: Roy Helu (Nebraska); Alex Green (Hawaii); Derrick Locke (Kentucky).
6th Round: Bilal Powel (Louisville); Stevan Ridley (LSU); Darel Scott (Maryland).
7th Round: Evan Royster (Penn State); Dion Lewis (Pittsburgh); Noel Devine (West Virginia).
I think alot of what the Bears do in this draft at RB will be dependent upon how optimistic they are about signing Forte to a long-term deal in the near future. If they feel confident they can lock Forte up, with Unga in the fold to handle the big-back duties, I could see the Bears taking a flyer in the later rounds on a smaller, faster back-Like Taiwan Jones, Derrick Locke, or Noel Devine. If they have concerns about re-signing Forte, it may motivate the team to look hard at an all-purpose back like Todman or Vereen in the 3rd or 4th rounds. The problem I see with most of the early-round backs (Ingram, R. Williams, Murray) is that they all have been injured at times through college. Another guy to keep an eye on is Dion Lewis, who was being called the next Emmitt Smith after leading the NCAA in rushing as a true freshman, but has fallen off the map the last two seasons. You do not lead the NCAA in rushing yards at a BCS conference school as a freshman without having some talent, so he maybe worth a flyer in the 7th round, if he still there.