Senior Texas Christian running back Ed Wesley is the first player to declare for the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft, expected to be held on July 12, and it would be wise for the Lions to use a draft pick on him.
The Lions running backs depth chart is currently in shambles and a player such as Ed Wesley could add depth, talent, and consistency to a team that is struggling in all three of those areas.
Here is an overview of Detroit’s current running backs depth chart:
Jahvid Best – is clearly Detroit’s most talented running back, but he can hardly stay on the field due to his past history of injuries. He has dealt with a few unconfirmed concussions, post-concussion symptoms, and an issue with turf toe. The Lions cannot rely on him to stay healthy moving forward.
Mikel Leshoure – is having a hard time winning over the fans. Not only has he been suspended for his two past marijuana possession charges, but he also missed the entire 2011 season after tearing his Achilles tendon during training camp. He is guaranteed a spot on the Lions roster because he was a high draft pick, but his recovery from his Achilles tendon tear could decide how many running backs the Lions carry going into the 2012 season.
Kevin Smith – is captain comeback and it’s surprising he hasn’t purchased a lottery ticket yet. Every time it seems like Smith isn’t going to get a chance to prove himself, a running back on the Lions roster gets injured or suspended, which opens up another opportunity for him to get playing time. Smith is a very talented player, but he has also battled injuries in the past. He should make the final 53-man roster because Leshoure is suspended the first two games of the year; however, if he doesn’t put up respectable numbers during Leshoure’s absence, he could be cut when Leshoure is activated to the 53-man roster in week three of the 2012 season.
Joique Bell – is still unproven for the Lions to say that he is ready to be the main backup to Best and Leshoure. He had a stellar preseason with the New Orleans Saints in 2011, but is yet to play a game in a Lions uniform. He will make the final 53-man roster, but he still has a lot to prove.
Keiland Williams – is struggling to keep his spot on Detroit’s roster. He has tremendous upside, which he has previously shown with the Washington Redskins. He also has the capabilities of being the Lions bruiser running back during short yardage situations because of his massive 230-pound frame, but the lousy 3.4 yard per carry average he posted in 2011 is something the team does not want to see from him again during the preseason games this fall.
Stephfon Green – is someone who could prove to be the next Aaron Brown for the Detroit Lions. Green is a burner and is very good catching the ball out of the backfield. He isn’t the greatest runner between the tackles, however, and he needs to improve his pass blocking skills. Should he have an impressive training camp and preseason, he could earn himself a spot on Detroit’s practice squad. He is currently the only rookie running back on the Lions 90-man roster.
James Bryant – is primarily used as a fullback and is a long shot to make the 53-man roster. He is a converted linebacker and has very raw talent. Although Bryant has a ton of upside, he is not worthy of a roster spot and a player like Will Heller is already used to fill in for H-back and fullback situations.
Jerome Harrison – is currently on the Non-Football Injury/Reserve list and will miss the entire 2012 season due to his battle with a brain tumor.
Detroit previously flirted with the idea of adding former Packers running back Ryan Grant because of the depth issues the team currently has, but that transaction fell through. The outlook of the position hasn’t changed and the Lions still need to add one more back to ensure that the team will have a solid ground game this season.
The Lions need to find someone who can stay on the field for an entire season and Ed Wesley, the 5-9, 200-pound running back, could be that guy.
Graham Watson of the Yahoo! Sports Blog Dr. Saturday said the following regarding Wesley’s decision to enter the NFL’s Supplemental Draft:
Wesley’s agent, Jordan Woy, announced Friday that Wesley, a senior, will enter the NFL’s Supplemental Draft. Wesley’s decision to leave the Horned Frogs, who are on the cusp of their first season with the Big 12, came as a shock considering he was slated to be the top returning back in a three-back system with Matthew Tucker and Waymon James.
For his career, Wesley rushed for 2,442 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also had 22 catches for 314 yards and three touchdowns. His biggest year came in 2010 when he rushed for 1,078 yards and 11 touchdowns. He missed three games last year with a shoulder injury and has battled injuries most of his career.
While Wesley is the first player to publicly declare for the supplemental draft, he’s not expected to be the only name to ultimately surface.
Wesley put up stellar numbers at Texas Christian during his three seasons in Fort Worth, Texas. He played in 36 games and had 387 rushing attempts, recorded 2,457 rushing yards, scored 21 touchdowns, and had an average yards per carry of 6.3.
CBSSports.com said the following regarding his running back abilities:
Wesley (5-9, 200) has good vision, anticipation and decisive movements as a runner, but isn’t overly elusive. He has battled the injury bug over his career, especially to his shoulder after missing three games last season. Wesley isn’t guaranteed to be selected in the Supplemental Draft, but he was considered a mid-to-late round draft pick after his junior season.
NFL.com also added to the conversation by saying:
Wesley might not have led his team in rushing, but according to a source with knowledge of the preseason rankings of expected seniors entering 2012, Wesley had “draftable” grades from scouting services National Football Scouting and BLESTO Scouting.
The Lions could pick up Wesley for a steal. Although Detroit does not have a fourth-round draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft because of a trade with the Minnesota Vikings, they do have their fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-round selections. It would not hurt the team much if they used a late round pick to bid for Wesley’s services. It’s worth the gamble to see if Wesley can compete for a roster spot and help bolster Detroit’s current stable of running backs.
Here is some video of Ed Wesley: