Draft Positional Analysis Running Back
February 13th 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
With the emergence of last years draftee Kevan Barlow, and the re-emergence of Garrison Hearst, the 49ers are not likely to pursue a running back in this years draft. Even if Garrison Hearst moves on as a free agent, the 49ers still have Paul Smith, and Jonas Lewis waiting in the wings, both of which could play second fiddle to Barlow. This years group of running backs does offer some good players, but with there being much more pressing needs on the 49ers roster, it is unlikely the team will pursue any of the big names from this crew.
Top Five Running Back Prospects
William Green is the top back in this years draft. He has a great combonation of size, strength and speed. He's instant offense, and a threat to score every time the ball is in his hands. Explodes through the hall with good vision and patient enough to follow his blockers. Is very good in the open field and has good skills as a receiver out of the backfield. Is a good blocker.Can be used on kick returns. Has some off-field troubles but has proved to be much more mature and seems to have put that behind him. He could be the best offensive player in the draft, but his stock will fall because of his off-field history.
TJ Dunket has incredible size for being the quick runner that he is. As a freshman he score ten touchdowns and was simply unstoppable at the goalline. Deceptively quick and allusive Dunket picks up yardage five yards or more at a time. A fairly reliable receiver out of the backfield, and will make clutch receptions. A decent blocker who is always looking around trying to make the play. A solid all around selection for any power rushing offense.
DeShaun Forester first the mold of a West Coast Offense running back. Good size, speed and strength combined with natural running skills will make him a great pick in this years draft. He will make defenders miss, and will stiff arm his way to extra yards. Perhaps the best blocking back from the top five. Has been slightly injury prone throughout his career and is not the best 'team player'. Suffered from 'fumble-itis' late this year that will likely lower his position in the draft. Forester has lots of good on-field things going for him, and some bad off-field things. Luckily for him the competition in his draft class are not the best citizens either.
Clinton Portis is an elusive runner with great vision. Does very well behind a strong offensive line. He's a good back, who doesn't excel at any one thing, and doesn't have all of the physical tools. Nevertheless he's demonstrated big time potential, and has a great heart. He does not go down easily, and will gain yards after initial contact. A reliable pass catcher, who can block too. A versatile player that is reliable and can't be ignored.
Brian Westbrook has a great combination of running and receiving talent. He became the first running back at any collegiate level to run and receive for 1000+ yards in 1998. Made a good decision to stay in college for his final year. He's explosive through the wholes and patient enough behind blockers to open things up, up front. Good power for a small frame and is a good open field runners. Has injured his knee in the past but looks like he's better. Would benefit from the 'right' offense.
This years running back position in the draft has good depth after the initial top three drop off. There are some sleepers in this group, that will make names for themselves in the NFL. The 49ers wont actively pursue many running backs during the draft, but may find some of them to hard to resist in the free agent market. Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum