Welcome to a 3-part series called “The Rookie Report Card.” We are going into week 13 of the regular season and we think we have had enough time to look back at our scouting department here at DFW. Admittedly, most of the college scouting last year was done by yours truly, but we may bump into another writer from time to time. The purpose of this series is to see how our original analysis of the player is shaping up. We will give each player a grade. This grade will NOT be based on their performance but rather OURS. We will be going back and pulling bits and pieces from the scouting reports for you to look at. There will also be links provided to the original article for that player if you wish to read the entire report (just click on the player’s name).
Today we will dive into our PRESEASON top 5 ranked running backs and this will be followed up by WRs and QBs. There may also be an additional player or two depending on whether we had a sleeper this year (see Alfred Morris).
#1. Trent Richardson– A (Original report written 4-2-12)
Trent is still our #1 running back at this point in time. He hasn’t had the big games that Doug Martin has but he is still easily the more talented of the two backs and is living up the Adrian Peterson comparisons. Here are some highlights from my original report.
“Trent has elite power, speed, decision-making, and protection ability. He was often referred to as the “pound for pound” strongest player on the team in 2011. Trent is just an EXTREMELY effective back. “
“Trent has “franchise running back” written all over him. Perhaps his greatest challenge will be to live up to expectations, both of the GM who drafts him and the Fantasy owners who make him their number one overall pick in up-coming rookie drafts. Trent is as close to a “sure thing” as you will find in this draft.”
Doug “my NEW favorite Martin” is also living up to our original report and I distinctly remember being out in front of this one. Before the Ray Rice comparisons started up, I distinctly remember watching him and saying to myself… ”this guy has a little Ray Ray to him.” It looks like this draft class will have at least two studs for years to come.
“Doug Martin is a guy to watch this draft class. His upside is equivalent to Ray Rice. Yep, that is a bold claim I know, but this is a guy to seriously consider with an early 1st round pick.”
“So what I’m saying is, if Martin can improve his pass protection enough to be on the field on 3rd downs, he may have the best potential to be that “every-down back” that we are all looking for.”
#3. David Wilson- C+ (Original report written 3-16-12)
Mr. Wilson has disappointed a little bit and we did truly expect him to have a bigger impact earlier, although I believe we underestimated one VERY important thing. That is how Tom Coughlin and the NYG’s handle their rookies. Typically we don’t get to see rookies on the field too often under the current regime so it’s not surprising that we have yet to hear from Mr. Wilson this year. I am still giving us a passing grade on this one because Wilson’s talent has been on display enough to know that it is definitely there. With Andre Brown down due to injury, Wilson will have an opportunity in the next couple weeks and we could see that grade climb.
“Wilson is an extremely effective “north and south” runner with a burst that is elite. He is the clearly one of the top 4 backs. I rate him right with Doug Martin (Boise St) and Lamar Miller (Miami). I would be happy with any of these guys on my roster.”
#4. Ronnie Hillman- B (Original report written 5-9-12)
While Hillman is definitely in the same category as Wilson, we get a small bump from my overwhelming conviction with this guy. In fact when I broke down my top 5 running backs, Hillman and Wilson were interchangeable. Separated by .35 points on our grading scale, I was torn on where to rank these two and they could have easily been switched around.
“This might be my favorite pick of the draft. Now calm down, I’m not saying Ronnie is my favorite player of the draft, but if you combine, talent, situation, and opportunity then he is right up there.”
“Denver is poised offensively to be a top 5 offense in this league. All of this hinges on Manning’s ability to bounce back and lead this offense, so assuming he does, all the pieces are in place. Denver has their #1 WR with Demaryius Thomas and everyone’s new favorite #2 in Decker. Throw in a nice but aging 1st and 2nd down back in McGahee and now you have that “home-run” hitter out of the backfield with Hillman. Put this all together and you have the makings of an offense that could put up some serious numbers.”
#5. Isaiah Pead– C+ (Original report written on 5-4-12)
There has been nothing to suggest that Pead will be an impactful player in this league. In fact, 7th round pick Daryl Richardson has easily out-performed him in every way thus far. This IS where we saw the drop off occuring among the rookie RBs, although we can’t say that we expected him to do THIS poorly and thus the grade.
“A far cry from the 6’2” 240 pound Steven Jackson, Pead will be used much differently than the workhorse to begin. He’ll likely have a role as a change of pace back and pass catcher out of the backfield”
“For all his speed and ability in space Pead isn’t a very good blocker as is the case with many backs his size. He also has trouble breaking tackles and goes down on first contact a lot.”
Notables: ( Since no FORMAL scouting was done on these players all of these resulted in a failing grade)
Alfred Morris D Had him ranked #11 overall. Nobody saw Alf coming… least of all me. I mean why would anyone gamble on that guy given his mediocre talent and HORRID situation. That said… on that rare occasion when Shanahanigans DOES latch onto a back, we have seen what can happen. Morris makes up for his average talent with his attitude and tenaciousness.
Vick Ballard D+ Had him ranked #7 overall. It would be fun to see what this kid could have done in Washington in place of Morris. The two guys are very similar in that they have a mediocre talent level with an elite work ethic. Unfortunately for this kid, he ended up in Indy where the term “run-blocking” currently seems to mean nothing.
Daryl Richardson F Had him ranked #23 overall. He’s shown glimpses, but we are not sold yet. Pead is still not a threat because St. Louis will use him as a COP back and an explosive big-play option regardless of who gets the first and second down work. It will not surprise us to see St. Louis address this position again in the off-season since their other skill positions are looking solid.
Bryce Brown F Had him ranked #16 overall. I caught onto this guy late in terms of scouting. Fortunately, I caught on early in terms of fantasy football and stashed him on numerous rosters months ago. Wow does this guys have skills. The Philly situation will be a very interesting one as they slowly find out that they have in a guy who can do all the things that McCoy does while weighing 2o pounds more. Look out for this guy.
So there you have it. Overall, I am pretty happy with the results of last year’s scouting so far. Hopefully we will be able to see more as the year finishes up. Please stay tuned for the WR and QB breakdowns in the coming weeks.