2010 NFL Draft scouting profiles: Running backs (part two) « Ol' Bag of Donuts

2010 NFL Draft scouting profiles: Running backs (part two)

We’ve covered three of the top backs in the 2010 draft already. But in a running back-heavy draft such as this one, there are obviously many more to get to.

So, what do you say we get to a few more right now? Does that sound good to you?

Yeah – that’s what we thought.

  • Ryan Matthews, Fresno State

The numbers: 5-feet, 11-inches, 220 pounds…turns 23 years old in May…forfeited his senior season to enter the draft…4.37 40-yard dash time at the combine (4.46 at his pro day this month)…second team All American and first team All WAC in 2009…1,808 yards rushing (6.6 average) and 19 rushing touchdowns last season.

What he does that could work for the Packers: Matthews is neither C.J. Spiller (i.e., extremely fast) nor Jonathan Dwyer (i.e., extremely powerful). Instead, he’s in that nice middle ground where he’s a little of both (i.e., he can either go around you or through you). He’s a tough runner who’s also blessed with good vision. And he knows how to excel against the best, rushing for over 100 yards in consecutive games against Wisconsin, Boise State and Cincinnati last season.

What he doesn’t do that could hurt the Packers: Before he’s even played a snap as a pro, Matthews already has injury issues (he has yet to play a full season’s worth of games, for example). He might be in that nice middle ground, but that also means he’s not likely to bust many big gains. Not much experience as a pass-catcher, either, as he hauled in just 11 passes last season.

Final thoughts: It’s never good when a runner struggles with injuries throughout his collegiate career, as Matthews did. His lack of gamebreaking abilities/pass catching skills once again eliminates him from “change of pace” back status, as well. Essentially, Matthews would be able to do many of the same things Ryan Grant already does (and doesn’t do). Maybe it’s just me, but one Ryan Grant is all Green Bay needs. Still, he’d be there in the first round if the Packers want him.

  • Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss

The numbers: 5-feet, 8-inches, 165 pounds…turns 22 years old in August…4.53 40-yard dash time at the combine (4.44 at his pro day this month)…second team All SEC and third team All American in 2009…1,169 rushing yards (6.5 average) and 520 receiving yards last season…11 total touchdowns last season.

What he does that could work for the Packers: Some people list McCluster as a running back/wide receiver and, in many ways, that’s accurate. McCluster is a do-it-all type of player who can pretty much line up anywhere on the field. Like Spiller and Best, McCluster can also hit the long ball from anywhere on the field (don’t let those 40 times fool you – this guy can get it to “Ludicrous Speed”). He’s a very good pass catcher with instinctive route-running abilities and he’s tougher than your average 5-8 cat.

What he doesn’t do that could hurt the Packers: Of course, 5-8 is still 5-8, meaning McCluster will only be able to withstand so much punishment at the next level. For him to succeed, teams will likely have to create a separate set of packages designed around his skills.

Final thoughts: Remember what Percy Harvin provided for Minnesota last season? McCluster could do those exact same things for the Packers (oh yeah, he returns punts and kicks, too). An already dangerous Green Bay offense could become lethal with him in the fold. Plus, I think Mike McCarthy is smart enough to create some special packages for him. Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley and McCluster for the next five-plus years? Sounds reeeeaaalllyy good to me. He’ll be there in round two and the Pack should absolutely jump at him.

  • Joe McKnight, USC

The numbers: 6-feet, 190 pounds…turns 22 in April…forfeited his senior season to enter the draft…4.47 40-yard dash time at the combine (did not run the 40 at his pro day this week)…1,014 rushing yards (6.2 average) and eight touchdowns last season…voted Co-Player of the Year by Parade magazine as a high school senior in 2006.

What he does that could work for the Packers: The raw skills that made McKnight so highly regarded coming out of high school are still there, despite a disappointing career at USC. He’s lightening fast (again, don’t focus too much on his 40 time). He’s got fantastic vision and knows how to get to the open patches. Once he does, you’re not likely to catch him. As a pass catcher, he brings many of the same things to the table that McCluster does.

What he doesn’t do that could hurt the Packers: He’s not the toughest runner around and has struggled with injuries. He’s also had trouble in pass protection. While many of the top backs in the class have experience carrying the load, such is not the case with McKnight (his 20 carries against Cal last season was the most he had in any game last year, for example). Was supposed to be the next Reggie Bush, but it never happened.

Final thoughts: Like Matthews before him, you always have to worry about backs that couldn’t stay healthy in college. The fact that he pretty much busted at USC is also cause for concern. It’s hard to blame his coaches there, for example, as those guys have produced about a million NFL players over the past few years. Still, his raw talent is hard to ignore and if he can ever maximize on it, he could be a very good pro. He’ll probably still be on the board in round three and might be worth the gamble if the Packers think they can be the ones to light a fire under him.

That’s all for part two. Check back later today for part three.

-Chris Lempesis

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