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 Post subject: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:04 pm 
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http://falcfans.com/falcons-fa-focus-running-back-7004

Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
January 31st, 2013
Aaron Freeman

As noted when discussing the Falcons needs at the running back position, it is likely that the team will opt to go for a young back in the draft rather than free agency. If the Falcons are looking for a guy that can fill the mantle as the team’s feature back and sustain the team’s ground attack with a heavy workload, there will be better options come April in the draft than in the free agent market in March. But if the Falcons prefer someone that can split reps with Rodgers and Snelling to form more of a three-man committee system, they should have plenty of options in free agency.

The biggest names to hit the free agent market will likely be Steven Jackson (Rams) and Reggie Bush (Dolphins). Jackson is fast approaching the end of his career, as retirement talk has been broached. Jackson still has a bit left in the tank, but similar to the likely departing Michael Turner, he is a shell of the runner he once was. The value that Jackson brings is that he’s a veteran that is comfortable in the passing game, and still has retained some quickness and burst, certainly more than Turner. He would represent an upgrade, but not a significant one. The other downside of signing Jackson is the likelihood it’s probably only a one-year stopgap which would mean the Falcons would need to hope that Jacquizz Rodgers emerges as a viable lead back candidate in 2013 or be right back searching for someone else come 2014.

Bush is a big name due to his former high draft status and high profile in New Orleans for years, not particularly because he’s a blessed runner. Bush still has excellent quickness and speed to make the big plays. But in two years in Miami, he proved that he is not quite capable of being a lead back, and should return to the duties he held in New Orleans which was primarily a situational runner that provides value in the passing game. Besides his home-run potential, Bush at this point in his career doesn’t bring much more to the table than Rodgers.

Another free agent is Pittsburgh’s Rashard Mendenhall. But Mendenhall’s injury history, off-field issues, character, coupled with limited value in the passing game likely will keep him firmly off Atlanta’s radar.

Restricted free agent Chris Ivory (Saints) could draw attention. He’ll likely receive a second-round tender from the Saints, which may be a steep price to pay for him. Ivory has similar tools as Jason Snelling, except his superior footwork, balance, and burst probably make him a better candidate to be a lead back. But he’s limited in the passing game, which is the main reason why he has yet to flourish in New Orleans despite being consistently productive whenever he does get reps. While Ivory has some upside due to his youth, giving the division rival Saints a second round pick for his services seems too high especially given the fact that the Falcons could use that pick on a more well-rounded player in the draft.

Fellow Saint, Pierre Thomas may be cut loose this off-season, particularly if the Saints opt to keep Ivory. Thomas is a gifted pass catcher and a good solid straight-line runner. He’s been the Saints most consistent runner the past two years. But in truth, Thomas is nearly an identical player to Snelling. In a committee system, he is effective, but probably is not a good fit to become a lead back that gets more than 8-12 carries per game.

Other veteran options that may be cut/traded this off-season could be DeAngelo Williams (Panthers), Ahmad Bradshaw (Giants), Maurice Jones-Drew (Jaguars), Ben Tate (Texans), and Anthony Dixon (49ers). Of that group, probably the player that best fits Atlanta is Bradshaw. He has the combo of speed and power that has proven he can be a lead back in this league, and he’s one of the league’s best pass protectors and would be an excellent option in the Falcons revamped screen game. The only issue Bradshaw has is durability, as he has only played all sixteen games once in his six-year career. But reports indicate that the Giants appear reluctant to part ways with Bradshaw this off-season.

Next on that list would probably be Williams, who showcased late this past year that he still has something left in the tank with a 210-yard effort in Carolina’s season finale against the Saints. Williams is a speed back with home-run potential that does a good job in the screen game. While he’s a competent pass protector, it is telling that the Panthers have opted for Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert in those roles over the years. Williams is predominantly an outside runner that will turn 30 in April. Similar to Jackson, that means he’s more of a short-term option that might be able to give Atlanta one or two good years, but nothing more.

Jones-Drew is a big name, but he’s fast approaching Michael Turner territory as it’s clear he’s starting to loose a step. His 2012 season was thwarted by an early holdout and a late foot injury. He has only recently gotten surgery on the injured foot, which may put the start of the 2013 season in jeopardy for him. While MJD still has some ability, at this point in his career he’s probably comparable to Turner circa 2011. Throw in his injury, and it’s possible the Jones-Drew that suits up in 2013 will be closer to the diminished Turner that played in Atlanta in 2012. Again, like Williams and Jackson, at this point in his career he is just a one-year fix.

Ben Tate is an intriguing option as he’s entering the final year of his contract. The opportunity is ripe for Houston to shop him around trying to get something for him. Tate is an excellent cutback runner with homerun ability. The main issue with Tate in Atlanta is the fact that the Falcons don’t run a zone-heavy blocking scheme that Tate’s skillset is ideal in. It remains to be seen if he could adapt to becoming a lead blocker without a dramatic shift of the Falcons up front. Players like Tyson Clabo and Justin Blalock would likely need to slim down this off-season. The Falcons also stand to lose their best zone blocker in center Todd McClure this off-season as well. All in all, it likely would be trying to fit a square peg in a round hole if Tate were to come to Atlanta. Besides that the main concern with Tate is his ability to contribute in pass protection, something he’s rarely been asked to do in Houston. He does however possess excellent hands that could make him a big factor in the Falcons screen game. It also remains a question what sort of compensation Houston would want. It would seem likely that a minimum they’d want a second round pick, given that was the round that Tate was selected in 2010.

Dixon has similar tools to Turner, in that he’s a nice powerful runner between the tackles, but lacks the burst and quickness to really be a dynamic option. He also has proven to be a limited factor in the passing game. While he could be an effective short-yardage and goalline replacement for Turner, it’s doubtful that he would blossom if asked to take on a more significant role in the offense.

All in all, there are no great candidates that are likely to become available prior to the draft that can solve the Falcons running back issues for years to come. Of the likely candidates, I’d probably peg DeAngelo Williams as the best option assuming Brsdshaw is not let go. But due to the murkiness of the free agent crop, it will likely lead the Falcons to try and solve their running back issues in the draft.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:51 pm 
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Like you stated above the downside of signing a player at RB is that they are at the end of thier primes. As a result of this you are right back in the same situation in a year or two. The only RB I think would be worth signing is D.Williams, (if he is cut) but he likely wont come cheap. The best bet is to draft a RB in the first three rounds and hope Snelling and Quizz step up.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:07 am 
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Yes although I prefer defense their should be some good prospects in the draft, I think Snelling will be on the downside; and Rodgers just needs to do more catches out of the backfield.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:54 pm 
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Bradshaw was cut and the Falcons should have signed him yesterday

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:07 pm 
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Pudge wrote:
Bradshaw was cut and the Falcons should have signed him yesterday


He stays hurt why would we give him 2 million for one year and then be right back in the same situation next year?

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:50 pm 
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Bradshaw would be an absolute waste of time. Please give me one valid reason why he would be a good fit? Even with fewer carries, I don't trust him.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:08 am 
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Bradshaw turns 27 in March. I generally say don't pay 27-year old running backs. But I don't think the Falcons would need to fork up $30 million to get Bradshaw.

Yes, Bradshaw is constantly nicked up, but given everybody's love for Quizz & Snelling, is that really a big deal if they have to carry the load for 2 or 3 games? On average the past 5 years, Bradshaw has only missed 2.4 games per year.

The reason why you get Bradshaw is this:

1. He's arguably the best pass protecting RB in the NFL. He's consistently graded in the Top 5 for each of the last 4 years on Pro Football Focus' pass blocking efficiency ratings for RBs. What's the big deal? Well, since the Falcons are a passing team, it pays to have a lead back that doesn't need to leave the field under any circumstance. But Turner was a good pass protector too (he was in the Top 5 in at least 2 of the last 4 years), so what does Bradshaw bringing extra? Well unlike Turner, Bradshaw isn't a terrible pass catcher. He's had his share of drops over the years, but he's improved every year. And unlike Turner, Bradshaw still has the ability to be a dynamic screen back. You do like those screens don't you.

2. He is an excellent combo of power and speed. He's become less explosive over the years, as injuries and wear have sapped him somewhat of his long speed, so he's not quite the threat to take it 50 yards every time. But he's added power and runs very effectively between the tackles. One of Pro Football Focus stats that I find interesting is their breakaway run stats, which basically factors in how many yards a player gained on runs of 15+ yds. For Bradshaw, that percentage has decreased over the years again because he's less prone to the big runs. But to me what is interesting is that figure IMO can often be a good indicator of success rate as the higher a RB's YPC is when they aren't getting big gains, tends to show their level of consistency. Well here are the numbers for some notable RBs from last year (only considering those with 180 or more carries):

Non-Breakaway YPC:

1. C.J. Spiller - 3.92
2. Ahmad Bradshaw - 3.91
3. Frank Gore - 3.65
4. Marshawn Lynch - 3.64
5. Ryan Mathews - 3.62
6. Alfred Morris - 3.55
7. Mikel Leshoure - 3.55
8. Ray Rice - 3.49
9. Stevan Ridley - 3.46
10. Shonn Green - 3.42
12. Matt Forte - 3.33
13. LeSean McCoy - 3.30
14. Jamaal Charles - 3.27
15. Doug Martin - 3.20
16. Trent Richardson - 3.17
17. Arian Foster - 3.11
20. Adrian Peterson - 2.96
21. Reggie Bush - 2.92
22. Chris Johnson - 2.87
23. Michael Turner - 2.73
24. Darren McFadden - 2.30

Advanced NFL Stats puts Bradshaw's success rate this year at 45.6% Which was 3rd highest among RBs with at least 150 carries this year.

The guy has steadily improved every year he's been in the league, and if the best he has to offer is what he did for the Giants in 2012, then that's a huge improvement for the Falcons.

He was one of the better 3rd & short runners in the league (tied for 8th in NFL). He was also one of the least stuffed runners in the league as well (6th best among RBs)

Look the bottom line is all those 2nd & 8s we had with Turner this past year, are going to be 2nd & 6 or 2nd & 5, because of how much better a runner Bradshaw is.

3. Even if Bradshaw is just a 2 year rental, that means that the Falcons don't have to devote one of their top 4 picks to the running back position. They give Quizz at least 1 more year to prove if he can handle it. That also means that the Falcons can devote all 4 of those picks at other more pressing positions like TE, OL, DE, DT, LB, or CB.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:42 am 
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Amazing McFadden is at the bottom on the list of break away runners. He was hell at ARK.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:44 am 
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Still wouldn't you want to get a bruiser as a running back? Not a guy that's considered more of a speed back. I take Steven Jackson over Bradshaw any day even if it's for just a 2 year stretch.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:42 pm 
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Bradshaw isn't really a speed back any more. He's more of a bruiser than Jackson is at this point.

McFadden was terrible this past year in Oakland. Outplayed bya pair of fullbacks in Marcel Reece and Jeremy Stewart who had no problem adapting to Greg Knapp's zone blocking scheme, meanwhile if there is a candiate for a worse starting RB in the league this year than Michael Turner, McFadden would be that guy.

Those stats I posted aren't measuring his breakaway ability, they are measuring how effective a runner he is when he is NOT breaking long gains. Basically it's an indicator of consistency.

You look at Quizz's numbers in that arena, and they are similar to Turner. I like Quizz, but if you are taking his entire 2012 season as a whole, then he was no more effective a runner than Turner was for most of the year. People remember his big run vs. SEA, and think that was what Quizz was doing for most of the year. That was not the case.

The reason why the offense was more efficient when Quizz was in the lineup was not because they suddenly became a good rushing team, but because they were much more effective throwing the ball. If they were a better running team, it was a minor improvement. You're one of the worst running teams with Turner, and STILL that with Quizz.

IMO of the potentially available veterans, you're not going to find a better combo of speed/power and the ability to impact in the passing game than Bradshaw. And whether the Falcons get him or not will basically boil down to $$$.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:11 pm 
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I agree that the Falcs need to get Bradshaw. Save the draft pick and add Bradshaw owuld be smart. Of course I doubt TD looks at Bradshaw. It just seems that when a good player is available TD is slow to pull the trigger and another team gets the player. If the Falcs want to maxmize picks in the draft Bradshaw would add good running ability and blocking plus I believe he can catch passes. It's a no brainer but will the light bulb come on with TD?

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:24 pm 
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With some of the excellent backs that have been snagged in late rounds lately I just can't line up with paying FA money to a guy with an injury history at age 27. This is not 2008. First and foremost is that whoever we get has to be a real pass threat and, concurrently, someone who can pass protect as well as be an adequate runner. It is such ataxing position and we need look no further than MT's demise to see what a few short years reduce players to. Maybe we can find someone like the backs in TB and DC that seemed to fall through the cracks?

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:07 am 
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IMHO, RB is the easiest position in the NFL to fill at this point in time. Teams that don't have good running games either have poor offensive lines, or have hitched their wagon to someone that's wearing down. Perhaps even a combination of both.

Of all of the positions in the NFL, RB is just about the only skill position that someone can step into and be effective. As such, using a mid/late round draft pick on a RB makes abundant sense. Paying big money to a player coming off of an injury who already has mileage on them doesn't seem like a very smart move. Turner was an exception because Turner was sitting behind LT for most of the early part of his career.


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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:45 am 
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I think you underestimate the value that having a good running back has, and/or overestimate how "easy"it is to find one.

A starting RB in the NFL should be a player that makes their blocking better, often because they are excellent cutback runners, have explosive homerun speed, or powerful bruisers after first contact. I don't think those types of players are as numerous as you might think.

If the Falcons just add "any ol' running back" they are still going to be a subpar running team. Matt Ryan will be fine without a running game, but I don't want Ryan to be just fine. I want him to be really good, and he may not need a running game to the degree that many other QBs around the league need one, but he needs one.

Up until the first half of this year, Matt Ryan was a 2nd tier QB. And 2nd tier QBs need running games. Now over the 1st half of this season, he was a 1st tier guy, but then around that Arizona game he reverted back to his old ways.

And it's in the best interest of the Falcons to find the best RB they can because in all likelihood they are not going to significantly upgrade their O-line this year. Now in "normal" draft years there may be guys like Robert Turbin or Bernard Pierce that fall into the 3rd/4th round range that could fit this bill. That may yet be the case this year, and at first glance appears to be so. But at the same time, the difference between adding a Doug Martin/Lamichael James and a Robert Turbn is significant.

And as I've said many times before, if the Falcosn are picking late in round 1 and there is a RB on the board that has the potential to be Ray Rice (e.g. Giovanni Bernard), and all of the other available prospects along the OL, or DL are just "solid starters" but no future perennial Pro Bowlers, then it would be stupid to pass on the RB.

As for Ahmad Bradshaw, I again stress that IMO he is the perfect fit for what this team should be looking for to be the lead back in this offense. An excellent pass protector that has a good combination of power and speed to run inside and outside, and can also be an impact screen player. The only thing Bradshaw lacks is durability. But if he misses 2 or 3 games this year, that doesn't mean a big deal to me because I like our depth.

Now with that said, I know the Falcosn aren't going to sniff at Bradshaw for many of the reasons you guys said. They probably intend to draft one in Round 2 or 3 of the draft, and that's fine.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:31 pm 
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Good, not great, RB's are pretty easy to find. Great RB's like Adrian Peterson are pretty rare. The Falcons do not need a great RB. They just need a good RB that's capable of putting up 1000 yards. Typically, there are 3-4 of these guys per draft, and they are no longer high priority prospects. They can be had in the 2nd or 3rd round. Even if we wait till the later rounds, we can still find someone who can split time with Rodgers and Snelling and be effective in a niche role.


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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:50 pm 
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RobertAP wrote:
Good, not great, RB's are pretty easy to find. Great RB's like Adrian Peterson are pretty rare. The Falcons do not need a great RB. They just need a good RB that's capable of putting up 1000 yards. Typically, there are 3-4 of these guys per draft, and they are no longer high priority prospects. They can be had in the 2nd or 3rd round. Even if we wait till the later rounds, we can still find someone who can split time with Rodgers and Snelling and be effective in a niche role.

Yeah, that's all probably true. But I think you're ultimately settling. You have stated that you think one of the biggest obstacles keeping this team from winning a championship is the coaching. I disagree with that, I think it's personnel. I think the Falcons can get by with just a good RB, and as you said those aren't hard to find. But I think if/when the Falcons are a championship team it will only come if they have a strong running game. They need to get back to being more balanced.

I'm Ryan's biggest fans, but I'm also very aware of his limitations. Giving him a balanced attack that he can hand the ball off 25 or more times per game will make everything go smoother going forward.

I also expect you think the Quizz/Snelling combo is going to be much more effective than I think it will be. I think they can be adequate, but again that sounds like settling or complacency.

I think the Falcons 2 off-season priorities this year are to 1) Improve the run game and 2) Get more playmakers on defense.

IMO, if you were to sign Bradshaw, and he would be healthy this year (which appears to be the case from everything I've read), then you're close to solving your first issue. To improve your second priority then you can probably use your top 2 picks on D-linemen or some other combination.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:10 pm 
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I maintain that in order to truly improve the running game, the key is to upgrade the OL. It was horribly evident this year that our line was not able to get push in short yardage situations. It doesn't matter who you put behind that line, they're not going to be able to run through a wall. I would sooner have the Falcons go after one of the top guards in free agency rather than going after a RB.


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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:27 am 
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https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2 ... ing-backs/

Ranking the 2013 Free Agents: Running Backs
Khaled Elsayed | 2013/02/11



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Every day this week (and some of next) we’re going to be breaking down the top free agents at each position. It’s more than just looking at our grades, but factoring in longevity, age, injuries and so much more in order to tell you who we think are the best gets out there.

We’re not going to insult your intelligence though when it comes to guys unlikely to hit the open market because of the franchise tag, so don’t expect to see names like Joe Flacco or Ryan Clady in these pieces.

Instead, we’re focusing on guys with a real shot at dipping their feet into the free agent pool and making your team better.

And now the running backs.

* Note: Isaac Redman was deemed unlikely to hit free agency, instead having his team use the restricted free agent tags on him.

1. Ahmad Bradshaw

2012 Grade: +14.2
2012 Snaps: 611

Summary: When healthy I’d go as far as to say there isn’t a more complete back in the league than Bradshaw. He runs with a style that sees him get more than his blocking gives him, he’s dangerous as a receiver out of the backfield, and he’s about as good a blocking back as you’ll see in the league. However, there’s an obvious reason why the Giants released him and why he’s more of a gamble than some others. Despite being 26, Bradshaw has had a number of surgeries on his troubling ankles, and that is a huge concern.

So while you are absolutely getting a player who is capable of starting and being an every-down back, you have to weigh that against the probability that he might miss an extended period of time with his recurring issues. A tough decision to make, but it’s worth noting Bradshaw has finished in the Top 10 of our running back rankings the past three years.

2. Steven Jackson

2012 Grade: +9.2
2012 Snaps: 733

Summary: Jackson will turn 30 during the 2013 season which will scare a lot of teams off, especially given his high workload the past five years (averaging 285 carries a year in that period). But on the evidence of his 2012 year, Jackson still has something to offer, finishing the year with our 11th-highest rushing grade of all running backs.

Not a threat to take it the distance (just 20.4% of Jackson’s yardage came on runs over 15 yards, 13th-lowest of all running backs with at least 100 carries) and he’s not the most elusive back in the league (31st out of 48 in our Elusive Rating). But his 2.7 yards after contact per carry highlight a player that can still push the pile. Paired with a more explosive option, there’s no reason to think he can’t carry on doing the hard work for a team.

3. Chris Ivory

2012 Grade: +3.9
2012 Snaps: 68

Summary: I must admit to having something of a running back crush on Ivory, so one of my big hopes for the offseason is the Saints don’t exercise the right to tender him, and instead let him find a home where a team takes advantage of his talents.

Here’s a guy who has a career average of 5 yards per carry and who has forced a missed tackle on one of every 4.9 touches since entering the league. This year Adrian Peterson only managed one for every 5.4 touches. Sure, he doesn’t contribute much in the passing game, but not every running back has to. With the Saints souring on him, he’s got plenty of tread left on his tires and is one of these guys who makes something out of every opportunity handed to him.

4. Reggie Bush

2012 Grade: -2.6
2012 Snaps: 582

Summary: If nothing else, the time Bush has spent in Miami has proved he can hold up to the strain of being an every-down back. Still, old habits die hard and Bush remains a back for whom bouncing it outside is the guiltiest of pleasures. It’s a large part of why he was ranked only 35th (out of 60) in our pure rushing grades for 2012.

In essence, Bush continues to be the player the Saints realized they had drafted. Better in space, and not all that elusive when working in crowded areas. His 2.1 yards after contact per carry were only 0.4 better than the lowest mark in the league. If you can get him space he is dangerous, as his 16 runs over 15 yards (sixth highest in the league) attests.

5. Rashard Mendenhall

2012 Grade: -2.6
2012 Snaps: 104

Summary: The soon-to-be former Steeler is young enough (25) and far enough removed from his end-of-2011 injury, that his upside makes him an intriguing proposition. After flattering to deceive in the early portion of his career he was really finding his stride behind a poor offensive line when injury struck at the end of 2011. Then he had our 12th-highest grade of all running backs for rushing and forced 37 missed tackles from scrimmage.

The problem for him is that injury and what it has meant. In a “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” league Mendenhall made more noise for his actions and comments off the field, than he did for his play on it. That may have been due to health, but it offers little solace for a team who want to spend their free agency money on a sure thing.

6. Cedric Benson

2012 Grade: +0.3
2012 Snaps: 201

Summary: Working behind a Packers line that was getting little push, Benson could manage only 3.5 yards per carry before his season was cut short. On the positive side, 156 of his 248 yards came after contact, and he him also broke seven tackles. That left him with a 20.7 Elusive Rating that was an improvement on the 15.8 he managed in his final year with the Bengals.

So he’s far from done, but at the same time how much do you trust a 30-year-old running back coming off an injury?

7. Danny Woodhead

2012 Grade: +10.4
2012 Snaps: 424

Summary: The diminutive Woodhead has used his time with the Patriots to establish himself as one of the premier third-down backs in the league. He’s not going to push a pile, but his nose for the first-down marker is what separates him from the rest. Indeed, of all running backs with at least 75 carries, his 26.3 conversion percentage on runs into first downs or touchdowns, is the third-highest mark.

What’s more, he offers a threat as a receiver out of the backfield. In fact, 44% of his targets turned into first downs, the second-highest percentage of any running back. You need to commit to him in a way the Patriots have, but Woodhead is an incredibly productive player.

8. LeGarrette Blount

2012 Grade: -3.2
2012 Snaps: 93

Summary: What to make of Blount. In his rookie season he was a revelation. Finishing the year top of the charts with an Elusive Rating of 89.2 after breaking 50 tackles and averaging 3.7 yards per carry … after contact.

Since then it’s all gone wrong. His struggles in the passing game mean the Bucs have been loathe to trust him, to the point that he was given only 41 carries on his 93 snaps in 2012. Still, the big back may benefit from a change of scenery which may doubly act as a kick of the backside. He’s got some major character question marks to overcome, and he’s entering a now or never stage of his career. He need only run like he did as a rookie and all of a sudden he’s one of the best in the league at turning nothing into something.

9. LaRod Stephens-Howling

2012 Grade: -0.6
2012 Snaps: 346

Summary: Initially a special teams ace, “Hyphen” has always been up to the task of delivering when the Cardinals have called his number. Unfortunately, a woeful offensive line made life extremely hard on Stephens-Howling , who struggled to get much going despite forcing 28 missed tackles on his 128 touches.

Therein lies his problem. He’ll always need a degree of help in getting into space where his speed and deceptive power can help him create things. At a listed 180lbs he’s just not cut out for a hugely significant role, but then you look at the success a guy like Danny Woodhead has had, and wonder, why can’t he have something similar?

10. Peyton Hillis

2012 Grade: +0.5
2012 Snaps: 218

Summary: Apparently we’re not ready to forget what Hillis was able to do in 2010, because he’s done very little in the past two years to convince anyone he’s worth as much as he thinks he is.In 2010 he finished second in our running back rankings, but injuries have meant that since then he’s been on the field for only 690 snaps, failing to do much in those games to inspire.

He did show he’s still got something to his case in forcing four missed tackles and picking up 101 yards against the Colts in Week 16. However, the question teams have to be asking themselves is whether he can consistently get the job done. He hasn’t done a good job of convincing them the answer to that is yes these past two years.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:21 am 
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The Falcons need to take more chance on some vets who could help and I think Bradshaw can certainly produce. It seems like teams like the Patriots,Giants,49ers usually get the good vet players. They find a way to make room so salary cap excuses bah humbug.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:50 pm 
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The only two that intrigue me are Ivory or Pierre Thomas. Thomas isn't a world beater, but more than solid across board. Ivory could be a really cheap power options, but isn't an ideal two down back imo. Bradshaw's injury history scare me, he just had to get a bigger screw put into his foot to replace the old one, bc it keep fracturing more. Sneaky options that always played behind an awful line is Mendenhall. However, in today's nfl I'm not a fan of spending money on FA rb's.

Best option, draft one. If you do enough homework these days, you can find a gem. Ie. Alf Morris Plus you don't need a three down back, we need a 1-2nd down back b/c we've got Quiz.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:30 pm 
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What happens if Quizz gets injured? The goal should be to have 3 interchangeable backs. That means that teams won't be able to know what you're going to do.

Last year, when Quizz or Snelling were on the field, the Falcons threw the ball 74 and 72% of the time, respectively. That number was 49% with Turner.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:33 pm 
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I think that we should go after a RB in the 2nd or 3rd round of the draft. I don't think that we need to go out and land a big money FA to fill the spot. Now, if we can get big money value at a bargain rate, then I'm ok with that. But even so, you're taking risks when bringing in someone like Bradshaw.


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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:57 am 
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Time for Falcons to get younger at RB
Feb 14, 2013 1:00 PM
By Pat Yasinskas

Let’s give Michael Turner his props. If he’s not the best running back in the history of the Atlanta Falcons, he certainly is close to that.

Turner is a major reason the Falcons made the playoffs in four of the past five seasons. He gave the Falcons four wonderful seasons and one mediocre one.

That last part is why the Falcons need to make the cold, hard business decision and give Turner his walking papers sometime between now and the start of free agency. Yeah, it may sound cruel for a guy that’s played so well and been a good teammate, but it clearly is time for a change.

Heck, you can just look back at last season and make a very strong argument that it’s past time for a change. Turner was visibly slower in 2012, and that came in a season when the Falcons limited his playing time.

Turner turned 31 on Wednesday, and I think it’s safe to say he’s not going to get any faster or better. He helped get the Falcons to the cusp of being a Super Bowl team, but they’re not going to turn things into a Jerome Bettis farewell tour if they let Turner stick around for the final year of his contract. They'll just stand still, or lose ground.

It’s time for the Falcons to pull the plug for many reasons.

Let’s start where you always should start with this type of situation. Let’s start with the money.

Turner is scheduled to count $8.9 million against the 2013 salary cap. Releasing him would instantly free up $6.4 million.

That would be significant money for a team that’s barely under the salary cap and needs to make efforts to prevent cornerback Brent Grimes, left tackle Sam Baker and strong safety William Moore from walking away as free agents.

Could the Falcons restructure Turner’s contract and make it more cap-friendly? Sure, but there’s not much point in that.

That’s where the football part comes in. Atlanta doesn’t run the same offense it did in Turner’s first four seasons. When offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter arrived last offseason, he made the Falcons a pass-first team.

That’s why fans who are screaming for the Falcons to go out and get Steven Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw or Reggie Bush are missing the mark by a mile -- or at least visions of a 1,000-yard season. They all come with wear and tear, and they all would come with hefty price tags.

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s no longer practical in the NFL to pay huge money to running backs. That’s especially true when you have an offense that’s built around quarterback Matt Ryan and receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White.

The Falcons no longer need a running back who's going to give them 20 to 25 carries a game and rush for 1,300 yards a season.

What Atlanta needs is someone to work in tandem with Jacquizz Rodgers, who was paired with Turner last season. Rodgers showed he can do a little bit of everything and can do it pretty well. He might be able to take on an even bigger role next season.

But Rodgers needs someone to share the backfield duties, and I’m not sure third-stringer Jason Snelling will ever be ready to take on a bigger role than he has had.

The best thing the Falcons can do is let Turner walk away (he can contribute somewhere else for a year or two) and go out and get a fresh set of legs for the backfield.

There’s an easy and inexpensive way to do that. It’s called the NFL draft.

Running back is a position where it’s easy to make an instant impact. Just look at what Doug Martin did in Tampa Bay last season. And you don’t have to be a first-round pick like Martin to have sudden success. Look again to Tampa Bay, where LeGarrette Blount, who wasn’t even drafted, had a 1,000-yard season in 2010.

Blount might have been a one-hit wonder, but the point is you don’t need to use a first- or second-round pick to get a running back who can help immediately.

Guys such as Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle, Rutgers’ Jawan Jamison, Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor, Florida’s Mike Gillislee, Michigan State’s Le'Veon Bell, Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson, Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin will likely be available any time from the late second round on, a place where salaries aren't that high.

They all have their merits, and each has his flaws. But the Falcons don’t need a perfect running back.

They just need someone who can complement what Rodgers brings to help them take the next step forward, because they’ve gone as far as they can with Turner.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons FA Focus: Running Back
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:29 pm 
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More like 3 wonderful seasons and 2 mediocre ones.

Like I said a year ago, you'd rather be accused of getting rid of a guy a year too early rather than a year too late. Let's hope the Falcons don't make the same mistake with Dunta Robinson.

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