I don’t expect the Seahawks to draft a running back in round one. I think they’d only consider it if an Adrian Peterson level player was sat there at the end of round one.
A gift. A set of events that is pretty unlikely.
It’s a funny situation because on the one hand, Seattle is determined to use an explosive and physical running game as its offensive focal point. When the Seahawks eventually do part ways with Marshawn Lynch they’ll probably feel his departure, whoever’s waiting in the wings.
Yet even with a real sense of priority towards the run, here’s what we need to remember…
— The league has moved on from the 30-40 carry work horse. Lynch averaged 18 runs a game last season, with a regular season-high of 28 carries (vs San Francisco in week 2). In 2006 Shaun Alexander averaged 25 carries a game during an injury-hit regular season. He had a regular season high of 40 carries (vs Green Bay).
— Teams are passing on good running backs in round one these days, but Trent Richardson was seen as the exception to the rule. He was considered (by the media and many teams) to be a safe pick and was duly drafted #3 overall by Cleveland. His titanic failure coupled with the success of later round or UDFA backs will not be forgotten in a hurry.
— Pete Carroll is kind of making an exception by making Lynch such a tone-setter and focal point. At USC he loved to let multiple 5-star recruits battle for snaps. A multi-back system seems likely going forward. Even if Lynch retires after the 2014 season, Robert Turbin and Christine Michael are both contracted for at least another year. With potentially greater needs on the OL and DL — are you spending a vital first rounder on a running back?
It just seems unlikely.
I’m not convinced Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley will go in round one, or at least in the top-20. They’re both exceptional players with different skill-sets. Gordon has fantastic acceleration, the ability to cut with ease and the vision to exploit the smallest gap. He’s elusive and athletic if not a straight line runner. Gurley has the size to pound the rock but he’s surprisingly more effective when used as an explosive home run hitter carrying in the 15-20 range. That’s not to say he can’t develop into a feature runner like Lynch, but he tired too easily at times last season.
We’re seeing the position as a whole take a back seat. Teams rush to snap up the top offensive lineman and with several attractive DL options eligible for next years draft, they’ll almost certainly take priority. Not to mention the top 2-3 quarterbacks.
I suspect the Seahawks would be willing to keep looking for value at the position. Christine Michael was a relatively high pick but still a late second rounder. He wasn’t just any old running back either, he was one of the best athletes to enter the league in his generation — a true SPARQ champion. If given the opportunity to go after a first round running back or chance their arm on another Spencer Ware-type later on, I think they’ll wait.
If Lynch doesn’t retire and Turbin/Michael remain too, it’s pretty much a moot point.
And yet when you watch their week one tape, there’s still a lot to like about Gordon and Gurley. Fans of many teams will pine for this pair in 2015, we’ll see in good time where their true value lies.