Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Adding Speed and Dynamic Ability to the Backfield – Running Back
As much of a proponent for an early round running back as I have been, the Detroit Lions inability to find a suitable replacement to Rob Sims at left guard (Which, let’s be real, should have been easy) has forced me to shift that need back a bit. I’d still be perfectly comfortable with a running back in the first round, assuming the offensive line was addressed shortly thereafter, but this line is looking like a real horror show moving forward with only one starter really in place in Larry Warford.
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Despite privately expressing confidence in their running back corps (an idea I both believe and am disgusted by) the Detroit Lions have brought in both Todd Gurley and Tevin Coleman in for team visits. Both of them are strong options to provide that speed and big play threat while allowing Joique Bell to do the dirty work. Assuming they miss out on those two, their options aren’t limited in one of the strongest RB classes in a decade.
Originally, I thought Joe Lombardi would lead a Running-Back-By-Committee (RBBC) approach in Detroit. Saints always found success with it, Lions were halfway there in 2013 where Bell and Bush shared the load close to equally. 2014? Not so much.
Joique Bell had the 7th highest percentage of team carries. He was more of a lead back than Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster, or Justin Forsett; lead backs on their teams who were far more productive. Despite saying otherwise, and people saying they do otherwise, the Detroit Lions were NOT a RBBC team in 2014. They had a lead back and a distant, distant 2nd. Theo Riddick and George Winn didn’t even COMBINE for 40 carries last season, while true RBBC teams like the Saints had their #3 alone passing that amount.
Jay Ajayi is the dark horse in this draft. Once considered a no brainer third round pick, the athletic Boise St. product has pushed himself into real first round consideration. He’s benefited from Gurley and Coleman’s injury issues, questions about Gordon’s ability to transcend scheme, and Ameer Abdullah‘s chronic fumbling, but Ajayi is a player that can attack every play he’s on whether it’s pass, rush inside, stretching outside, or whatever else you want to throw at him. He’s a real lead back, and could be one on a team that desperately needs one like the Detroit Lions.
Next: To Choose a Successor