All puns aside, here's an issue that very may well be addressed this coming draft.
Since the departure of our beloved Jerome Bettis, we have not had the "bruiser" type running back that can get us those short yards. We drafted Mendenhall this past draft, partially for this reason, but more so for the use to help take off carries Willie P's back. I don't see Mendy being the goal line guy, but more so a "reaction back", a term he came up with himself. He doesn't designate his run style just to power, or just to elusiveness, but a mixture. Who knows, he could fill this role in the coming years, as he is over 220 pounds, but I'm thinking of investing in other options for a short yardage back.
As I have said before, Gary Russell has done a good job, but I'm not convinced that he's up to challenge either. What we need is a guy who can consistently pound the rock past the goal line or move the chains when we only need a yard or so. M&M also was brought in this past year, in the hopes that he might supply the answer, but was stood up on numerous occasions (partially due to poor blocking).
So I believe we can make a low-risk investment in this year's draft, where there are 3 realistic options that will most likely be available on day 2.
First off, Shonn Greene, the junior out of Iowa. Greene stands at 5' 11'', 235 lbs, and was a force to be reckoned with this year at Iowa. He was practically unstoppable as he ran for 1850 yards on 307 carries, and scored 20 rushing touchdowns on the year. He ran for 100 yards or more in every game of the season, and only had one game where he did not run for at least one touchdown. My question is, how the hell is a guy who put up those kind of numbers, projected to go in round 3? It could be the fact that he'll be 24 before he takes a step into an NFL game, or the fact that he played at Iowa, a non-powerhouse, easy-schedule type of school, or because his speed is less than dazzling. In any case the guy is a major sleeper in this year's draft due to great power, and great vision on the football field.
Second on my list is P.J. Hill the power house runner from Wisconsin. Hill weighs in at 5' 11", 230 and only just turned 22. His career numbers are impressive, as he's started since his true freshman year. His totals look like this: 37 games, 3,942 rushing yards, averaging 106 yards a game and 5.1 yards a carry, tallying up 42 total rushing touchdowns. Again, another less recognized school with Wisconsin, and a slower 40 time have this guy projected to go in round 3.
Finally, there's Jorvorskie Lane, the FB/RB, from Texas A&M. Lane is primarily a fullback, but at 6', 285 lbs, it's hard not to use him in a running attack. Could be another version of LeRon McClain. During his college career, Lane has had some unbelievable numbers. Over the course of 4 years, he's carried the ball, 489 times and netted 2,193 rushing yards, 49 rushing touchdowns, and over 4 yards a carry. The guy can also block, and when he lands a hit, boy is it devastating. This is an area where he can be inconsistent. For now, he is projected to be drafted somewhere after the 5th round, which is definitely a pick we could spend on him.
Any 3 of these guys could make a decent addition to our already-deep running back position. Hill and Greene are guys that could eventually turn into quality starters if given the chance. My vote? Well I am a fan of LSU's Charles Scott, but he didn't declare this year, and will probably put good enough numbers in his senior season to jump up to the 2nd or 1st round in 2010. So, in my opinion, the next best thing would be P.J. Hill. Until today, I didn't know much about Hill, but after seeing some his highlights I'm sold on his running style. Of course if Mendenhall and/or Gary Russell, turn out to be the solution to this problem, then that is fine too. I just think we could find a gem this year, for a very low cost. Thoughts?