We examined four backup/1B/handcuff running backs yesterday and we're sticking with that theme today as well. Each of these four running backs (three rookies and one 2nd-year back) should have a significant enough role in 2012 to potentially warrant a starting flex spot and all have significant upside should their team's main starting RB were to go down.
Ronnie Hillman declared for the NFL Draft foregoing his final two years of college eligibility after two remarkably productive seasons at San Diego State. Hillman finished 2011 as the 3rd leading rusher in the country with an average of 138 yards per game and in two seasons he averaged 1,600 yards on the ground and 18 rushing TDs. Hillman is undersized at 5-10, 190 but remarkably fast with good vision and possesses the ability to stop and start quickly while stringing moves together. Playing alongside Peyton Manning in Denver definitely upgrades Hillman's cache.
Isaiah Pead comes into the NFL with exceptional straight-line speed having posted a 4.47 time in the forty and also had the 2nd best time in the 10-yard split showing good burst. Pead was also a great receiver out of the backfield and finished 2011 with 39 receptions at the University of Cincinnati. Pead was named MVP of the Senior Bowl. Pead will join Steven Jackson in the Rams' backfield. Jackson has been a workhorse for years but has lacked even a reasonable #2 running back to share some of the carries.
It was a fairly quiet rookie campaign for Jacquizz Rodgers (just 78 touches) but the team has hinted he will have a much more significant role in 2012, while saying Michael Turner (30) will have his workload reduced. Rodgers was ultra-productive in college having averaged 1,644 yards per season over three years and looks to be an exceptional receiving option out of the backfield.
After a school record 1,709 rushing yards last year for Virginia Tech, David Wilson will have the good fortune of joining the Super Bowl Champion NY Giants. The downside is the Giants project to play the hardest schedule in the league this year on paper and the Giants ranked dead last in the NFL last year in rushing yards at (just 89 yards per game). Wilson excelled at the Combine with a solid 4.49 forty, a freakish 11' broad jump and an elite 4.12 in the 20-yard shuttle.
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