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hawaiiansteel
02-17-2012, 09:24 PM
BTSC Draft Forum: Running Back Seen as a Mid-Round Option in the 2012 NFL Draft

by Neal Coolong on Feb 17, 2012

http://cdn3.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/3089016/87379_Steelers_Camp_Football.jpg

In the second part of our Draft Forum series, we dig into the running back position in the draft as well as free agency. The days of the Workhorse Back are behind us, and with guys like Fred Jackson, Matt Forte and DeMarco Murray rushing and catching passes to a high degree of success, value in both player addition markets seems abundant.

The Steelers face an interesting dilemma at that position. In what looked to be a pretty stable group going into 2012 in January turned into perhaps the most anticipated training camp competition when RB Rashard Mendenhall tore his ACL in Week 17. His availability for the start of training camp is all but gone, and he could even miss the start of the regular season. Also, veteran RB Mewelde Moore is a free agent, and 2011 7th round pick Baron Batch (a guy our panel loves) is returning from an ACL tear of his own. How will all of these things factor into the running back position this offseason?

Background: RB Rashard Mendenhall tore an ACL on the final game of the season. Recently, General Manager Kevin Colbert said he "never feels good" about the health of a player for a year after the injury. While it's possible Mendenhall plays this season, free agency and the draft will occur well before any definitive word on Mendenhall's availability will come.

Question: Considering the current depth of running backs (Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, John Clay and Baron Batch), do you feel his injury makes that position a priority in the draft and/or free agency? Will any effort be made to re-sign veteran Mewelde Moore?
RB is always a position that front offices around the NFL are looking to fill with cheap talent, and that doesn't change with us. Although our need isn't as pertinent as other teams, I believe it would be beneficial to add a faster, change-of-pace RB on day 3 of the draft. IMO unless Batch's knee can't hold up and we cut both Clay and Dwyer, Mewelde Moore's days as a Steeler are numbered. Some prospects I would target are: Cyrus Gray (Texas A&M), Ronnie Hillman (San Diego State), Tauren Poole (Tennessee), and Adonis Thomas (Toledo).

- Parris Brantley

The Steelers have sworn by their ability to find running back talent both inside and outside the draft since Willie Parker, an undrafted back from North Carolina, exploded through the league. While it may not be a need, the amount of talented backs Pittsburgh has produced over the last eight years, and the frequency in which they've brought them in, suggests strongly they'll be looking late in the draft for a diamond in the rough.

Is it really worth it, though?

The Steelers should be OK at the running back position in 2012. They have enough horses in the stable to give the team production in the running game.

While it's nice to have a back with big play ability, the Steelers offense doesn't need big plays from their backs to stay on schedule. In the same interview, where Colbert discussed Mendenhall's prognosis for the 2012 season, he also stated that Redman has "established himself as an NFL running back". That's all the endorsement I need, regarding Redman's ability to top the depth chart at RB.

Although I would have liked to have seen more, I was encouraged by what I saw from Jonathan Dwyer and John Clay, and that was with no work in the off season. That won't be the case heading into 2012, and I'm sure both will get much more attention during the off season. The real wild card is Baron Batch. Worst case scenario, he can become a solid replacement for Mewelde Moore. Best case scenario, he turns out to be a poor man's Ray Rice, and becomes the Steelers primary back this season.

- Greig Clawson

Batch was lauded for his willingness to block before tearing his ACL in training camp, and showed a strong ability to step up and stone pass rushers. Pass blocking is a major factor in a young running back's ability to get on the field. If he can't do it, opponents will see that and be able to key on the offense's intention when he's out there.

Batch is still a wait-and-see prospect, let's not forget he was a 7th round draft pick. He'll compete basically as a rookie in this camp against a positional group that all saw carries this season.

And that's before the draft, which could see the Steelers add a dynamic athlete who may not have first-round size or speed, but a more underrated trait: pass catching ability. RB Dexter McCluster had 41 catches in Todd Haley's offense last year. Jamaal Charles had 45 in 2010.

I really do not feel like running back should be a priority in the draft. Personally, I think Redman can be just as productive as Mendenhall. He does not have burner speed, but I think he fights for extra yards on "tough" carries better than Rashard. He has more of that "fall forward" style that I used to love in Bettis (no he is not "The Next Bettis").

Additionally, I still have pretty lofty hopes for Batch (see Moore not resigned). The kid was making waves in camp and I hope that carries over to this year. Furthermore, I read somewhere that Haley does a great job with pass catching backs. So, as far as the draft goes, I don't see them investing a 1-4 round pick on a RB, but I wouldn't be surprised if they took a late speedster to add another dynamic.

- John Stephens

Because of his presence (and low price tag), the Steelers will give Batch the opportunity to compete for Moore's spot in training camp. Moore won't be re-signed immediately, but could return if Batch or anyone else underwhelms.

Speed kills, though. You can never have enough of it. If that kind of running back is available on Day 3, I think they'll pull the trigger. Considering Redman and Clay both were products of the Steelers' practice squad, and Dwyer spent his rookie season inactive for nearly every game, bringing in another back through the system seems to work well.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... n-the-2012 (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/2/17/2803032/btsc-draft-forum-running-back-seen-as-a-mid-round-option-in-the-2012)

steelerkeylargo
02-18-2012, 01:12 PM
Names we should be looking at in rounds 3-5

Cyrus Gray-3rd
Tauren Poole-4th
Vick Ballard-4th
Terrance Ganaway-5th
Marc Tyler-5th
Davin Meggett-5th

Steel Life
02-18-2012, 02:04 PM
I'm all for bringing in a low-cost FA & the one I'd like to see is LeRon McClain. IF he's right McClain is a load, plus he's familiar with Haley & the AFC North, can back up at running back & fullback, & can be signed cheap.

focosteeler
02-18-2012, 03:49 PM
I don't think we need to draft a running back. We have Redman, Batch, Dwyer, Clay and Spann to choose from with Mendy possibly coming back at some point. Maybe bring another guy into camp. Let the competition choose.

RuthlessBurgher
02-18-2012, 05:32 PM
The point in the article about Haley utilizing RB's as pass catchers is well taken.

In 2011, Dexter McCluster had 46 receptions.
In 2010, Jamaal Charles had 45 receptions.
In 2009, Jamaal Charles had 40 receptions.
In 2008, Tim Hightower had 34 receptions, and J.J. Arrington had 29 receptions.
In 2007, J.J. Arrington had 29 receptions, and Edgerrin James had 24 receptions.

When Mendenhall returns from injury, Haley should be able to maximize his skill set as a potential receiver out of the backfield (something that Arians never took advantage of) as he "tweaks" Ben's game to take a dump off pass to an RB rather than taking a sack. In the mean time, since I don't see Redman as quite the same level of pass catcher out of the backfield (game-winning reception against Baltimore in 2010 notwithstanding), someone like Baron Batch could really show his worth as a 3rd down back this season.

Shoe
02-19-2012, 09:18 PM
The point in the article about Haley utilizing RB's as pass catchers is well taken.

In 2011, Dexter McCluster had 46 receptions.
In 2010, Jamaal Charles had 45 receptions.
In 2009, Jamaal Charles had 40 receptions.
In 2008, Tim Hightower had 34 receptions, and J.J. Arrington had 29 receptions.
In 2007, J.J. Arrington had 29 receptions, and Edgerrin James had 24 receptions.

When Mendenhall returns from injury, Haley should be able to maximize his skill set as a potential receiver out of the backfield (something that Arians never took advantage of) as he "tweaks" Ben's game to take a dump off pass to an RB rather than taking a sack. In the mean time, since I don't see Redman as quite the same level of pass catcher out of the backfield (game-winning reception against Baltimore in 2010 notwithstanding), someone like Baron Batch could really show his worth as a 3rd down back this season.

Good point.
But don't base Redman's ability to catch/not-catch on his production there, since we all know we don't throw to our RB's much.

Count me in on the boat that says, we are OK at RB. Now, if there is a guy we "can't pass up", then I'm all for it. But I don't view this as a "need".

Chadman
02-20-2012, 12:52 AM
Quick question for those that might know- how is Jonathon Dwyer at catching the ball?


Chadman agrees- not much 'need' at drafting a RB- so long as Batch comes back from the injury ok.

If Mendy can be used in that pass catching role- here's betting we all start clamouring over him saying he needs to be re-signed t the end of next season...

RuthlessBurgher
02-20-2012, 01:32 PM
Quick question for those that might know- how is Jonathon Dwyer at catching the ball?

In 3 seasons at Georgia Tech, he ran the ball 517 times and caught the ball 15 times. Of course, they ran an triple-option offense there, so opportunities for RB's to catch the ball were not abundant to say the least.

steelblood
02-20-2012, 02:53 PM
Names we should be looking at in rounds 3-5

Cyrus Gray-3rd
Tauren Poole-4th
Vick Ballard-4th
Terrance Ganaway-5th
Marc Tyler-5th
Davin Meggett-5th

I don't like Tyler. I think injuries have robbed him of everything that made him special in high school. The first four names on that list are great!

phillyesq
02-20-2012, 03:22 PM
I'm all for bringing in a low-cost FA & the one I'd like to see is LeRon McClain. IF he's right McClain is a load, plus he's familiar with Haley & the AFC North, can back up at running back & fullback, & can be signed cheap.

I wouldn't say no to McClain, but Haley did not utilize him much in KC, and may not be a fan.

The lost cost FA back that I've been pimping is Jason Snelling. He's 28, a UFA, and seemed to be overtaken by Rodgers as the primary backup to Turner.

To the point that Ruthless made about receptions, he caught 30 passes in 2009 and 44 in 2010 before tailing off to 26 receptions last year.

ikestops85
02-21-2012, 12:17 PM
I think Redman will have no problem taking over as the primary back. I hope Batch can see some time as the 3rd down back. I haven't seen enough of Clay to say one way or the other but he has shown some talent.

I haven't seen anything out of Dwyer that I really like. He had 2 big runs in that one game but those holes were big enough that just about any back could have run through them. So far he hasn't shown me any vision, any cutback ability, or the ability to break tackles. Given that it's been reported that he has shown up out of shape I am really disappointed in him.

I say we resign Moore and get rid of Dwyer.

hawaiiansteel
02-25-2012, 09:23 PM
WalterFootball has Isaiah Pead as a 3rd round prospect...


Steelers | Showing strong interest in Isaiah Pead

From: Footballguys.com News Blogger - February 24, 2012

University of Cincinnati RB Isaiah Pead said the Pittsburgh Steelers have shown a lot of interest in him at the NFL Scouting Combine.

http://ewallstreeter.com/steelers-showi ... ead-4653/# (http://ewallstreeter.com/steelers-showing-strong-interest-in-isaiah-pead-4653/#)

http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Isaiah-Pead.jpg

Dee Dub
02-25-2012, 09:33 PM
Yes, I like Isaiah Pead. :D He is a very well-rounded back. I think 3rd round is the area that the Steelers could be looking at calling his name.

mainesteel83
02-26-2012, 11:42 AM
With the Steelers now being a "throw first" team (ouch, I hate saying that), we need that blitz-blocking/pass-catching/change of pace back that will complement the power of Redman (note--not Mendenhall--I'd send him packing with an injury settlement). I'd like to see a short (as in hard to pick up in the backfield behind the line--5'9" or shorter), packed (200 lbs or greater) RB picked up late (5-7) or as a UDFA. I'd look at Bobby Rainey, Davin Meggert, or Bryce Beall as possibilities.

Since he probably (?) won't be back, a big hat's off to Mewelde, who really did an outstanding job of everything he was asked to do for the Steelers over the past few years.

hawaiiansteel
02-27-2012, 03:37 AM
Sunday February 26, 2012

Trend shows teams better off drafting running backs in later rounds

By Clark Judge | CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

http://sports.cbsimg.net/u/photos/football/nfl/img17463290.jpg

Top RB prospects Lamar Miller (left) and Trent Richardson can expect a long wait on Day 1 of the draft. (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS -- The more I think about it, the more I think NFL Network's Mike Mayock is right. Unless you're looking at Adrian Peterson, it's almost never a good idea to spend a high draft pick on a running back.

Of course, that's not what Alabama's Trent Richardson wants to hear, but, sorry, the numbers don't lie. And what the numbers tell you is that of the NFL's top five rushers last season, none was a first-round draft pick and one -- Houston's Arian Foster -- wasn't even drafted.

The highest choice was Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy, and he was the 53rd pick of the 2009 draft.

But let's go a little further. Of the top 10 rushers, there were four first-rounders, with none higher than the 12th choice -- which is when San Diego's Ryan Mathews and Seattle's Marshawn Lynch came off the board. It's not until you get to Reggie Bush at the 11th position that you find a top-five pick (he was second in 2006), with Cedric Benson (fourth in 2005) right behind.

There's a message there, and it was reiterated by Mayock when he met with the media Sunday at the NFL's annual scouting combine. And the message is this: Unless you absolutely, positively have a conviction about a guy, spend your top-10 draft choice on someone other than a running back.

"What it tells you," Mayock said, "is that if you're not Adrian Peterson, there probably shouldn't be a top-five or top-ten running back. Either because of injuries or because of a lack of talent or whatever, if you go back to every class up to Adrian Peterson, you can't make a case for a top-ten running back."

I'll second that.

The last top-10 running back was C.J. Spiller, and Buffalo found him with the ninth pick in 2010. He was the NFL's 43rd leading rusher last season.

Before Spiller, there was Oakland's Darren McFadden at the fourth spot in 2008, and while he flashes production when he plays, he doesn't play all that much. The guy has missed 19 games in four years -- including nine last season.

Then there was Peterson, at the seventh position in 2007. Alabama's Richardson is projected as a top-five draft choice, but I would be careful, people, and I just explained why. Nevertheless, Richardson pleaded his case with the media, telling listeners why he wouldn't pay attention to recent NFL history.

"When it comes down to it," he said, "I'll be the dude that's on the field and getting the ball on third-and-3 and fourth-and-1. And not to be cocky or anything, but I work on my game every day, and even if it's not physical stuff, I work in the classroom learning the plays, and learning the defensive line and what the linebackers and safeties are doing so I can pick up my blitzes.

"I love to block. Everybody knows I can run the ball. I've never been caught from behind. So if anyone wants to question my speed, just look at the tape. When it comes to football, any game you want to ... just look at it and try to find a negative. A lot of people try to find a negative in your game, and there aren't too many negatives I have."

He's probably right. But he's a running back, and when it comes to top-five running backs, that's not exactly a positive.

I mean, look at the past seven Super Bowl winners and tell me where there's a top-five rusher in there. There's not. And among the past 11 Super Bowl winners, you find only one running back who was a top-five draft choice -- and that was Bush, who was drafted No. 2 in 2006 and had a grand total of 70 carries in 2009, the season New Orleans won it all.

Anyway, you get the idea.

"There are so many good running backs you can get later in the first," Mayock said. "You can just keep running down the running-back position and go 'Wow, why not go down a little bit further or get two backs for the price of one?' "

Good question.

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/stor ... ter-rounds (http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/story/17462914/trend-shows-teams-better-off-drafting-running-backs-in-later-rounds)

Keyplay1
02-27-2012, 06:55 AM
Here are some of the RB's mentioned in threads the past week or so.

Neal Coolong [BTSC-Behind the Steel Curtain]

Some prospects I would target are: Cyrus Gray (Texas A&M), Ronnie Hillman (San Diego State), Tauren Poole (Tennessee), and Adonis Thomas (Toledo).

steelerkeylargo:

Names we should be looking at in rounds 3-5

Cyrus Gray-3rd
Tauren Poole-4th
Vick Ballard-4th [Also in skl's mock 4th rd]
Terrance Ganaway-5th
Marc Tyler-5th
Davin Meggett-5th

mainesteel83:

I'd look at Bobby Rainey, Davin Meggert, or Bryce Beall as possibilities.

pfelix73:

Need a dynamic RB with great hands who catch some passes out of the backfield. IE- a Shady McCoy- type. Wilson and and also Martin look pretty damn impressive....

isonator07:

"I'd like to see us grab Pead in the 3rd."

--Actually, a very interesting post-- he said:

"Of our biggest needs (NT, OG, ILB) I think we can afford to wait on ILB the most. I'm hoping one or both of Glenn or Poe are available (If both are gone I would hope that Hightower was available for us). In the second taking the best available at the position passed on in the first. I'd like to see us grab Pead in the 3rd."

"I think Pead would be a nice change of pace to Redman. It's kind of a luxury pick, but I think he could be used like Darren Sproles was in New Orleans."

--Yeah! If the Steelers could somehow get all 4 of the players mentioned in the 1st 3rds I doubt anyone in Steeler nation will complain. :D :D

There are a number of fans liking Pead. [He was probably first mentioned in Dee Dub's mock] But now I'm thinking the Steelers will not take him since he will probably not be around 4-7 when they will look at RB's.

All of the above mentioned RB's were in this thread. The following are RB's from some other threads and from mocks.

Steel Life:

Some UDFA's to Consider:

Michael Smith, RB Utah St. - Played behind Robert Turbin, but was very impressive in limited role.

Nate Eachus, RB Colgate - Brian Leonard-style RB...hard runner, good receiver.

steelblood:

Bernard Pierce RB Temple. Underclassmen. Had 27 touchdowns in 2011 and averaged 5.4 yards per carry. Pierce is about 6 tall and 215 pounds. He is still adding bulk to his frame. Some say that he is a little stiff, lacks an extra gear, and runs a bit upright. However, all agree he is a slippery runner who has done all he can at Temple. Is he a late second round pick or a fifth rounder?

There were a few more mentioned in mocks.

Big Rob:

Round 5: Robert Turbin RB Utah State

A 5'9" 220lb running back that can power run with the best of them. He is better than Clay and the out of shape Georgia Tech running back. Plus he's green.

---That sounds about right. My guess is if the Steelers take a RB it will come from the ones on the following list. And as of now Turbin is in there.

117 Chris Rainey RB 11 Florida rSr 5-08 180 3-4
124 Tauren Poole RB 12 Tennessee Sr 5-10 205 4
138 Dan Herron RB 13 Ohio State rSr 5-10 213 4
151 *Robert Turbin RB 14 Utah State rJr 5-10 222 4-5
152 Vick Ballard RB 15 Mississippi State Sr 5-10 219 4-5
163 Terrance Ganaway RB 16 Baylor rSr 6-0 239 5
177 Davin Meggett RB 17 Maryland Sr 5-08 211 5
182 Bobby Rainey RB 18 Western Kentucky rSr 5-07 208 5-6
196 Brandon Bolden RB 19 Mississippi Sr 5-11 222 5-6
206 Marc Tyler RB 20 Southern California rSr 5-11 219 6
222 *Edwin Baker RB 21 Michigan State Jr 5-08 204 6-7
228 Lennon Creer RB 22 Louisiana Tech rSr 5-11 219 6-7
250 Adonis Thomas RB 23 Toledo rSr 5-10 185 7

About the only reasons I could figure for having any interest in RB's would be the noticeable conditioning factor of the backups mentioned by some fans. [Hard to figure that isn't it?] And/or and I didn't want to mention this but besides the ACL injury it is possible that the twitter incident is more in play than anyone suspects.

Oh well, today is the big day for the LB's and DL's. This is what many fans are reall;y waiting for anyway.

ikestops85
02-27-2012, 02:01 PM
I'm not sure why we would need a RB like Pead when we have an untested Barron Batch waiting in the wings. I want to see what Batch can do before I invest another draft pick on that type of back.

aggiebones
02-28-2012, 12:46 PM
I don't think we need to draft OR sign a RB because we need to see who we already have. Yea, bring in some random cheap FA competition, but that just takes away opportunities to see what we have. There's always a RB cut late that we could bring in as a 3rd/4th option if we get stuck.

But we need to see:
A) How good can Redman be? I too always loved his fall forward. 2nd and 6 versus 2nd and 8/9 which Mendy gives alot. Though Mendy could bust the big one for long that Redman, both could exploit weaknesses for big gainers, Mendy's just went longer. But in 16 games, not that many 'game winners' Better to have someone eating the extra tough yards all game, all season.

B) Can Clay or Dwyer actually play in the NFL? Clay seems to have something and is physical, but can he play smart, get the blocks down that don't force fumbles on Ben and can he keep the ball himself. Is he mentally tough enough to play stretches. Or is he a 3-4 year 3rd stringer? Same with Dwyer. Great runs..periodically. Is fitness a permanent problem? After a long run, he often rolls into the fetal position for the next couple plays. Is he nothing more than a 2-3 carries a game guy like I suspect? Again, keep him for 2-3 more years and let him go. Can either of these guys develop into a Redman-esque contributor that could become more? Or are they at their peak value?

C) Batch? Will he be the same? What actually was he? Lots of question marks with him. I think everyone would like to see more, but I doubt he'll be 'fully' ready for training camp. So he'll be our 4th guy.


So in the first 6 or so games, we'll learn if Redman truly is a workhorse type back, which I think he is. And you know he'll be physically ready for the challenge. We'll also get a good look at Clay versus Dwyer.
After game 6, I think you'll begin to see some of Batch. And one of the other 2 may drop off the team if Batch looks good, unless someone else gets hurt. Games 1-6 are VERY important to Clay and Dwyer as well as training camp/preseason games obviously. But they will want to see them in real games to test them for sure.
Then Mendy will come back at some later point in the season. I don't think he'll be very good and valuable next year, but he'll begin getting more carries as the season progresses.

The question will be late in the year:
Who will stick on the roster of Redman, Clay, Dwyer, Batch and Mendy? Will we actually carry 4 into the playoffs? Possibly, which means only 1 must go. Or will Mendy go from Pup list to IR unless he really shows he is a value going into the playoffs?

The good thing is, we should REALLY be able to get a true handle on which RBs are valuable and which are stealing paychecks due to lack of needing them on the field.

My bet is that 2013 looks like this, Mendy, Redman and Batch while we draft a young kid late or grab another undrafted RB to stash.

phillyesq
02-28-2012, 12:57 PM
Yes, I like Isaiah Pead. :D He is a very well-rounded back. I think 3rd round is the area that the Steelers could be looking at calling his name.

I've heard his name quite a bit throughout the process, and apparently he has at least shown potential as a return guy. With Sanders being looked at as the #1 KR option right now, a return guy who could also help in the passing game would be a nice compliment.

I like Barron Batch -- very easy kid to root for -- but I think it is tough for the Steelers to count on him to come back from his ACL injury at 100%.