DMN: A good year for running backs

QUOTE: “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” -- Albert Einstein

INDIANAPOLIS -- With workouts in full force, there are many observations I have from the NFL Combine

This is a good year to get a running back since the draft class features backs of all types. C.J. Spiller of Clemson and Jahvid Best of California showed the same explosive speed here that they demonstrate on the football field. Both are explosive players, both are versatile and both can impact a game with big plays. Dexter McCluster, the smallish runner/receiver from Mississippi, did not have great speed times, but his play on the field is explosive regardless of his 4.55 time in the 40.

The draft also features many power backs, led by Ryan Mathews of Fresno, Montario Hardesty of Tennessee and Toby Gerhart of Stanford. Jonathan Dwyer of Georgia Tech did not have a great day, and because of the offensive style at Georgia Tech, it’s hard to accurately evaluate his talent level. Dwyer will need to have a good workout on campus to help his draft stock.

Quarterback John Skelton of Fordham has great size, a great arm and is an interesting prospect. I expect many NFL quarterbacks coaches to visit the Bronx to spend time with him.

Quarterback Tony Pike of Cincinnati might have great size, but he doesn’t throw the ball with great velocity or power. Right now, he doesn’t look to be a potential starter in the league.

Texas’ Colt McCoy might be throwing at an almost 70-percent completion percentage, but how many of those throws are on bubble screens?

Wideout Mardy Gilyard of Cincinnati didn’t run as fast as I thought he would, nor did he catch the ball well in the workouts. He has some work to do this offseason.

Another wideout, Jacoby Ford of Clemson, is really fast and showed marked improvement from the first day of the Senior Bowl to the last, but he still has a long way to go before he can make an impact in pro football.

There’s depth in the offensive line area of the draft, and I suspect many teams will be picking lineman in the early rounds. The best part of being in an uncapped year is that if teams pick a lineman, they own his rights for six years. Rodger Saffold of Indiana will be moving up the charts.

Many NFL special teams coaches were complaining about the quality of kickers and punters invited to the combine. There weren’t many pro prospects kicking.

Free agent chatter

Even though the Cardinals will release Antrel Rolle if they can’t extend his contract before his $4-million roster bonus, the word I’m hearing is that they’ll be the favorite to re-sign him. They don’t want to lose him.

I expect the restricted market to be more active than the free-agent market. The talent of the free-agent pool lies with the restricted players, not the unrestricted free agents.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

For a look at how West Virginia QB Jarrett Brown is measuring up at the combine, check out this article from Bleacher Report.

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