The definitive running back game tape thread

Insurance policy needed

Pete Carroll: “The way that we want to play, you need somebody on your team carrying the football. Without an attack guy it doesn’t feel the same. And he (Marshawn Lynch) fits it just right, and he’s taken advantage of the emergence of these guys and the whole scheme, and he’s playing great football. We’re always going to continue to look for guys that add that to us.”

Those comments were made on December 14th, several weeks before Marshawn Lynch agreed a reported $31m four-year extension. Lynch ended the 2011 season running as well as any back in the league, but I still expect the Seahawks to spend one of their first three picks on the position. In February I wrote a piece detailing why I’d come to that conclusion, based on the team’s commitment to the run, needed insurance against Lynch missing time and the sheer depth of talent available at the position this year. Taking a running back in rounds 2-3 won’t be a luxury for Seattle, in fact it might be a necessity.

Lynch will turn 26 in just under three weeks time, but his physical running style has been punishing not just to the opposition but also to the man carrying the rock. The Seahawks clearly believe ‘Beast Mode’ can deal with a big work load and continue to be an x-factor for the offense, but they’ll almost certainly know they need a Plan B. It’s part insurance against injury, but it’s also about making sure the offense isn’t too reliant on Lynch being healthy. Here’s what I wrote nearly two months ago:

Pete Carroll has made it clear that the run game will make or break this offense, at least until they find ‘the one’ at quarterback. There’s no grey area here, the Seahawks want to run the ball. Most of their investment – be it in the draft, coaches or free agency – has been focused on setting up an effective running game. They can’t move forward knowing they’re an injury to Marshawn Lynch away from losing that identity again. Although many people believed the tepid 6-3 defeat in Cleveland was a review of Tarvaris Jackson’s effectiveness and Charlie Whitehurst’s ineptitude, it was mainly an insight into Seattle’s offense minus-Lynch. The Seahawks cannot risk being caught short and with a lot of talent available at running back in rounds 1-3, it will be a target area.

Kregg Lumpkin has been added as a free agent, but it appears Justin Forsett won’t be returning. There’s room for another running back. I also suspect the team won’t just be looking for a specialist third-down back or a change-of-pace, but possibly someone with similar characteristics to Lynch. Lumpkin is 5-11 and 228lbs after all, so maybe that’s an indicator.

Looking at the draft, what options do the Seahawks have? Plenty, as it happens. If they want to attack the position early, they could find real value with a Doug Martin or Lamar Miller – two players who could easily carry the load as a feature back at the next level. Martin in particular should not make it into round two – he would be a king steal if he makes it to Seattle’s second pick. Should the board gravitate towards the defense (it’s also a strong second round for linebackers), then the third and fourth rounds are also likely to provide potential impact runners. Below, you’ll find game tape for eleven different running backs. I suspect we could see two separate ‘runs’ on the position, early in round two and then in the middle of round three. The perception that backs can be found beyond round one will create a larger pool of talent after the initial 32 picks, but it could also cause a scramble in the middle rounds.


  1. David

    wow. 1:30 that run by Ganaway run is nice. I really like him along wit Martin. Physical backs but also have that burst of speed that is nice to see. Rob where do you see Ganaway’s value in this draft?

  2. David

    I had such hope of an upset after that first Polk TD against Stanford. That game got ugly.

  3. Nate Dogg

    Lots of really good options for Seattle. LaMichael James is the one I see fitting best. He’s a change of pace for Marshawn but he has a similar attitude, he’s very physical for his size. And he’s probably available in the third round, letting Seattle pick from the linebackers (or even wide receivers) available early in the second round.

  4. David

    James put on some weight to and didn’t seem to change his speed at all. He would definitely be a threat in the kicking game along with Wilson.

  5. Michael

    im a huge fan of this question anyways. I think getting Polk, Turbin, Martin in that order would elevate the running game.

  6. Chris from Bolivia

    Watched most of the videos, but stopped at Chris Polk. I don’t care about his combine, or even his overall stats at Washington. He played on a bad team at first, and never more than a good-to-average team after that.
    Sign me up for Chris Polk, he is Marshawn Lynch 2.0. He is also to be had for sure in the 2nd and maybe in the 3rd. What are the chances of him getting to the 3rd, Rob? I, for one, would take him in the 2nd. He has “it”, and I really enjoy observing RB tape.
    I started to look at other RB’s and kind of forgot about him, but when I went back just now, I say he may be a better pick-up than Richardson (based on need, price of pick means giving up a DE in round 1). We want a hard worker with low expectations about him, but who has the work-ethic and high-motor to love being behind Lynch. Maybe even to better Lynch, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

  7. JROCK419

    So many options at RB this year, if you want basically any flavor of back they are out there.

    Richardson, possibly the best back in the draft since all day.

    Miller, with his breakaway speed.

    Martin, good overall and elusive.

    Wilson, with superb balance and return ability.

    Turbin, with his cartoon biceps and deceptive speed.

    Polk who runs with determination and good vision and running ability.

    Explosive Chris Johnson types, James and Hillman are also great prospects.

    I also believe one of the above could be picked in the second to third rounds.

    My only worry is that some team at the top of the second starts a run at the position.

  8. mjkleko

    Really like Lamar Miller, especially if he goes in the late run on backs.

    Although you can’t go wrong with Isiah “the Rolling Ball of Butcher Knives” Pead either.

  9. Matthew Baldwin

    I want a game breaking burner like David Wilson or Lamar Miller in RD2 to compliment Lynch. I want to replicate what PC had at USC with Lendale White and Reggie Bush.

  10. andy

    TONS of talent at RB and LB are going to go in the 2nd thru 3rd rounds this year. (as well as that big Montana corner) Hawks need more than 2 picks in this range! I hope they pull off something to acquire another pick in that range……

  11. troy

    That’s the first I’ve ever seen of Pead. He is one hell of a high effort runner.

  12. Bryan

    Due to time, I only watched Martin, Miller, Polk and Turbin. After the first two, I ran out of time to make detailed comments on tape. I watched Turbin’s tapes yesterday.

    Doug Martin 5’9″ 215#
    + An elite RB with excellent balance, acceleration and speed through cuts and changes in direction. Uses leverage and his shorter stature to his advantage.
    3:17 – this run showcases a combination of balance, strength and coordination. He never should have had a significant gain here and most backs would simply have bounced out of bounds.
    3:22 – this run is made possible by a Baby Stiff Arm. Remind you of anybody?
    4:16 – the lateral agility and full speed cutting is evident here. In all of the cuts Martin makes, his feet are close to the ground to allow his to tap his toes and push in any direction with full acceleration and power.

    Lamar Miller 5’11” 212#
    + Explosive speed and great vision. Plays exactly like a zone blocking RB should with one cut and go runs. Miller looks like a natural receiver and 3rd down back.
    0:30 – Crack kills and so does speed. The foot speed here is unreal.
    1:11 – More speed is evident. One thing that was apparent starting with this run is the huge holes the line opened up for him the rest of the game. The hole he ran through to start this run is wide enough for a Liebherr T 282B dump truck to drive through. Look it up if that last comment eludes you as that dump truck is pretty impressive.

    Chris Polk 5’11” 222#
    + Except for the run at 1:22, all of his runs come on fairly poor blocking. Great blitz pickup

    David Wilson 5’10” 205#
    + Good balance and fluid movements with good transition and change of direction.
    3:05 – Good display of balance

    Robert Turbin 5’10” 216#
    + Terrific vision. Turbin consistently takes the best hole on most run attempts. In some cases, he makes gains despite less than stellar blocking.
    + Turbin always falls forward. Even when he is tackled or hit behind the line, Turbin minimizes loses by always falling forward.
    + Good at catching out of the backfield, with a smooth transition from the catch to starting forward. In most cases, his catches were not on the run, but strangely he shows good acceleration from the catch. Sort of the opposite of his acceleration after a cut while running.
    – Except for a few plays in the BYU game, Turbin is essentially stoped by nearly every arm tackle allowing a second defender to swarm and make the tackle.
    – Turbin needs a lot of work at pass blocking as he consistently misses the block or isn’t able to hold the block despite his strength and size. He is a willing blocker, but he isn’t natural at holding a block and driving LB back.
    – A fast back with slow acceleration. Kid of a strange mix, but it takes until at least the third step after a cut to get to full speed.

    So, who would I take? Assuming we don’t get Richardson in the 1st (we won’t), I would like Miller or Martin in the 3rd (I assume we get a LB in 2nd). Since neither of them will likely be available at that spot in the 3rd, who we take in the 3rd really is going to depend on what we are looking for. If we want to get a 3rd down back to replace Forcett, I think the pick is Chris Polk. Polk can catch out of the backfield and shows good blitz pickup skills. If we want a back that can do it all and be a change of pace or even equivalent to Lynch, we take Lamar Miller in the 2nd. Trading Lynch and Miller out on successive down would kill a defense with the combination of power and speed that the two possess. Miller and Lynch would be excellent compliments to each other’s talents.

  13. LadyT

    Agree Michael. I think Turbin then Polk as far as similar runners to Lynch Turbin being the closest.

  14. Rob

    Fantastic insight Brian, thanks for taking the time to compose that.

  15. Conner

    Bryan, I agree with your thinking about waiting for the 3rd or later to select. I’m not a big Miller fan, as he doesn’t break enough tackles for my liking, but, as you say, he will probably be gone by then.

    I’m not buying the hype as much on the Pac-12 guys. I think some combination of Cyrus Gray, Turbin, Gannaway, Hillman, and Pierce will be around for the 4th or even 5th round, and that’s where I would rather invest in the position.

  16. MJ

    I gotta say Martin and Miller stood out he most. Martin is Richardson lite, while Miller looks like a true home run weapon. Love both, but that said, I would much rather take Zachary Brown in round 2 because he could easily become the best coverage LB in the NFL in a few years with his rare athleticism and good size. If he’s gone, I’d hope for Miller then pray Spence or Wagner are there in round 3.

    Rob-do you think Spence can be had in round 3? His tape is unreal. Huge playmaker and a guy I think will be one of the bigger steals in the entire draft. Plays bigger and faster than his measurables would suggest.

  17. FWBrodie

    Bernard Pierce is a really strong one-cut-and-go runner. He’s looks tough to bring down.

    Pead is fun to watch. Really creative.

    I believe whatever back they select should excel in the third down role, pass-pro should be a strength.

  18. Doug

    Wow, what a bunch of great backs.
    I liked Pead best, and the reason I like him is that tome, he seemed to have an inate ability to pick the correct gap to take, and then he is gone. The ability to read when to make his cut is really important, and then he has the speed to get deep into the second level.

  19. John_s

    I like Cyrus Gray he runs hard. May not be a true inside runner but he is the one cut and go type of back that works in the ZBS.

    IMO I would like the first four rounds to be:

    1st – Fletcher Cox
    2nd – Alshon Jeffrey
    3rd – Cyrus Gray
    4th – Josh Kaddu

  20. matt

    ganaway all day for me.big strong and fast.rarely gets knocked back.looks durable.
    hey and same number as beast-mode

  21. Doug

    ya, ganaway is bad ass

  22. Stuart

    Ever since the bowl game where the Huskies played Baylor and some RB on Baylor named Ganaway destroyed the Husky D for 200 yards rushing, I have been a big fan of Ganaway. Never heard of him before that game. The broadcasters were telling a story about him and how he got kidded by his Baylor Teamates and Coaches for coming into the season “so heavy”. As I watched the game unfold and watched more of this Ganaway kid, the more I imagined how much quicker he would be if he did loose say 15 lbs. But heck I thought, why even bother, he’s great just how he is.

    Tillman, Ganaway, Turbin and Gray were the only one I watched. Each of those players really bring something to the table and would increase the running game in a special way. When Lynch comes out to save where and tear on his body, our running game wont suffer much. In fact it could be pleasant surprise.

    It has been a pleasure to watch these players, thank you Rob for putting it all together.

    1. Cox
    2. Hightower
    3. Osweiler
    4. Hillman, Turbin, Grey, Ganaway ? (most mocks predict 4-6 rd grade for ganaway)

  23. Justin

    I like Cris Polk and then Robert Turbin for the best fit for Seattle, think Turbin runs a lot like Lynch and if he lasts till 3/4 round would be a good pick up if Polk is gone. Polk would be a good pick up at round 3 and would add value at that point.

  24. matt

    well i opened my mouth,thinking i was astute and knew something. only to check some other sites and see ganaway listed as the 16th rated rb.say what?
    anybody understand that?

  25. D

    Pead was fun to watch. High effort, quick cuts, decent vision. Competitor?

  26. Charlie

    Gannaway looks pretty good. Whats his draft stock like?

  27. plyka

    I’m not a big UW fan, but I think Polk is hands down the best RB on those tapes. Turbin comes in second with Pead in there as well. I think common perceptions play a big role in what people think of the backs. Not sure why the guy on the first tape is supposed to be the best out of the bunch, but I’d be willing to bet that Polk and Turbin end up better NFL backs.

  28. James

    Seattle Seahawks 2012 draft

    1. Kuechly – MLB Boston College (Pete’s alter ego on the field.)
    2. Branch – DE Clemson (Pure pass rush.)
    3. Osweiler – QB Arizona State (Pete & John can’t afford to gamble their futures on Flynn. If he is a franchise QB…great; but if he isn’t the franchise guy, they must get his replacement in this draft in order for him to develop over the next two years. Next year is too late to start the development clock, and forget any chance for Barkley. If Osweiler is already taken, then Cousins, or roll the dice on Wilson in round 4, and go RB in round 3.)
    4. Turbin – RB Utah State (Tough and fast. One-two punch, Lynch and Turbin, and out cold.)

    …next stop, playoffs.

  29. James

    …watching the Ganaway tape, who is the Baylor qb? Not bad.

  30. Tom T.

    Wow, that long run by Miller really looked like Ladanian Tomlinson (specifically his footwork just before blowing through the hole). That said, I still love the idea of Polk in the 3rd.

    Rob, it’s clear that you love Martin, but who would be your next choice in round 2 or 3?

  31. Mike

    No, I don’t get it Matt.
    This being the first time I’ve watched any tape on Ganaway, I’m really impressed with his speed / power combination. At 240 lbs., he has some serious speed and he runs with the same spread base that Lynch runs with. In fact, he reminds me more of Lynch than any of the other fine runners in these tapes.

    Turbin is a tough runner but his running style looks to me really quite different from Lynch. Turbin runs with his feet close together. Not to say he wouldn’t be very effective.

    Pead is a fun runner to watch but honestly, he looks like Forsett.

  32. SoCalSeahawker

    plyka, you hit it right on the head for me as well. I don’t see what all the hype about Martin is. Looked pretty average to me in that tape. I haven’t seen a ton of most of these guys, but just from these tapes, my order would be Polk, Turbin, Gannaway. These three have great vision, can catch the ball, and are always moving the pile forward. Also, I wouldn’t sweat it a second if Lynch were to go down, for any of these three to come in and carry the load.

  33. Kip Earlywine

    Bold words, Chris from Bolivia. Stanford wasn’t even one of Polk’s more impressive games either- two big runs really inflated his stat line. Then again, Stanford has an elite run defense, and the Huskies O-line is not so elite, so maybe you are onto something. I’m a huge fan of Polk myself. I particularly enjoyed his game against Colorado or his games against WSU either of the last two years, although those teams did have pretty bad defenses.

  34. woofu

    If you just look at who they were looking at in FA then Polk and Ganaway would be candidates.

  35. Bryan

    Woofu – Polk won’t make it as an UDFA. He will likely be drafted in the 4th-6th round.

  36. Bryan

    Woofu – Polk won’t make it as an UDFA. He will likely be drafted in the 4th-6th round. Ganaway might become an UDFA.

  37. Hawkfin

    The problem as I see it is you guy’s maybe are just looking at this 1 tape. You will see flaws in Ganaway if you look at more tapes that are out there. At least, I think you are just looking at this 1 tape that Rob is showing.

    This is one of my problems with some of the evaluations that go on. The Whitney/DE tape was not the best one out there that Rob showed. He looks like a stud in other tapes even against the run, to where against UCLA they were doubling him all day long.
    When viewing one tape, it can be misleading.

    I would prefer multiple tapes on 1 guy and do a more detailed evaluation. At least for our “main” potential picks. I know you can only do and put so much.

    Anyway IMO I’m not a fan of Ganaway after looking at multiple tapes and then looking at the size he brings and lack of NFL pro speed. Maybe if you want a B. Jacob’s type back at his best?
    I think other sites have it about right when they say 16th rated RB.
    Although, that’s a little rough. I’d say like 12-16 RB, but a 2nd day draft pick none the less.

    I do like Polk a lot… Perfect 3rd round pick if he’s there. He could go as high as 2nd round in my view. I think he brings a well rounded game at every skill set.

    I also really like Martin and Miller. They might even make for a nice 2nd rounder for us if we want to spend that high of a pick on a RB.

  38. woofu

    What I was saying was they wanted to take a shot at M. Bush in FA and got Lumpkin during FA and the two players most similar to them were Ganaway and Polk.

    Ganaway is about the same style and size of Bush (but a little slower) while Polk is real solid in pass pro and catching the pass as is Lumpkin. Polk is a better Lynch like runner in that the first guy and often the second contact get used to propel them forward.

    I liked Polk LY with less miles on him and thought he should have come out then. He stayed and got to go bowling rah, rah. Bad business decission imo. He should go off the board by the third round or better.

    Ganaway might be draftable in the 5th or 6th if teams think they can get him down to about 230#’s and 4.6/40. He is shifty enough and catches the ball well. He is a RB/FB tweener at the next level for now. The above tape mentioned his fellow players teased him about his size which could indicate weight management issues.

  39. Diehard82

    I watched them all and came away most impressed with Cyrus Gray as 1 cut downhill hard nosed backup for lunch. Doesn’t have breakaway speed or elite lateral agility, which is why he should be available on Day 3.

  40. woofu

    I also thought Kuechly looked engulfed at MLB by Miami OL’s and Backs and think he projects as a OLB as a pro with space and coverage assignments. This leads me down the Upshaw alternative route of trade down to Hightower/Irvin or McClellin. If the trade down yields enough to get Polk, just do it! (snide Nike reference 4 today)

  41. Steve in Spain

    This is what leads me to believe there’s a very realistic chance Richardson falls to us at #12. It’s not just that the RB position has been devalued in recent years. It’s that there’s so much depth at the RB position this year. There are like 4 or 5 top-10 teams who’ll take a hard look at Richardson, but I figure most will see superior value to be had taking a lesser back in the mid-rounds and bagging a premium-position player in the top 10. Seattle’s a bit different because our other major need, LB, also has terrific depth in the second and third rounds, so we can better afford to take Richardson.

  42. Tarry

    Honestly, I never really considered Pead before watching this tape and if he’s there in the 3rd it would be tough to pass on him… I also really like Turbin as a type of back that fits with Lynch style that Carroll stated he wanted. I also liked what I saw in Cyrus Gray, he showed me some power runs that were impressive. I still think defence is where we are going with first 2 rounds barring barring trade backs these are my first 4 picks (also assuming Heater is resigned):

    1) Coples or Upshaw
    2) Mychal Kendricks ILB/OLB or Bobby Wagner ILB/OLB (both can play WILL)
    3) Robert Turbin or Isaiah Pead
    4) James-Michael Johnson ILB – Nevada or Neiko Thorpe FS/CB – Auburn (to play nickle)

  43. AlaskaHawk

    Our running back pick should be based on ability to run, kick returns, catching passes, and holding onto the ball. That is what separated Marshawn from the rest last year. Running in traffic, moving the pile (RAVENS) and holding onto the ball when the defense is ripping at it.

    All of the backs shown can run. Who has the speed and hands? Who will hold onto the ball and not fumble? Remember that’s why San Fran didn’t get to the superbowl last year, a fumble on a punt return.

  44. PatrickH

    Rob, Kip

    Have you looked at UCLA RB Derrick Coleman before? I noticed that he is scheduled to make a pre-draft visit to the Seahawks, according to PFT.

    FWIW, these are the other prospects listed for visit to Seattle: LSU DT Michael Brockers, LSU CB Ron Brooks, Virginia DE Matt Conrath, Cincinnati TE Adrien Robinson, and Beloit WR/TE Derek Carrier.

  45. David

    Hawkfin- What Film are you refering to on Ganaway? If you have some links that would be appreciated. The only games I have watched are this one and the UW game. And UW made him look like a 1st round all star.

    With Ganaway and all these runningbacks I think you have to take everything with a grain of salt though in college, you never know when the next Maurice Clarett is joining you’re team. Ganaways combine 40 was 4.65 but said he rebounded on his pro-day with low 4.5’s. Ganaway does have similar measurable to Michael Bush. I Believe he is shorter though by and inch or two depending on the source you look at. I think that shorter backs are more favorable cause of balance and also injury concerns.

    Woofu- I totally agree. Kueckly was spotty. He was catching OL and especially evident on that long run he got engulfed by that guard. That was pretty much his play too, not that the safety didn’t drop the ball either. That is actually the one pick that I would be disappointed with at 12 all the others I could rationalize in some way.

  46. Jake

    RB is the position I am least concerned about. Whoever we draft will probably resemble Marshawn, unless Washington gets released/traded. The depth of this class is fantastic, with some real good ones likely to be available as UDFA’s. No reason to use any draft capital in my opinion, unless it’s for an elite talent like Richardson. That way we can go for numbers at LB and Safety, and see who sticks.

    Only late draft pick/UDFA I see that impresses me is Lennon Creer (LA Tech). He has some great speed, rarely goes down on first hit, and gets to the hole in a hurry.

  47. Ben

    The RB class looks really deep this year and I’d be very happy to get a guy like Martin, Miller or Polk sometime in the 2nd or 3rd. I’d rather not spend a 1st on Richardson but I’d be disappointed if we didn’t end up talking a top-5 RB on the second day.

  48. Nano

    The more I see Doug Martin, the more I like him. I don’t see him that far behind Richardson, honestly. I think he’s going to be really, really good.

  49. Jim

    I for one, really appreciate this article. The opportunity to watch tape on all of the RB’s that may be of interest to the Seahawks back to back is a wonderful thing. And, it only takes a few clicks of the mouse to do so, great job. Have you thought about doing similar film compilations on DE’s & OLB’s? I have watched all of these films at least twice each and of all these guys, I was impressed most by:

    (1) R. Hillman, seems to run exceptionally well near goal line and first down markers, to me appears to make consistent gains in the running game, as opposed to others that average 2 yards a carry for 20 carries a game and hit on a couple of long runs that serve to inflate their average. Rd. 4, no problem, the more I see of him, the more I like. Seems to have good wiggle and slash abilities.
    (2) I. Pead, seems really shifty and capable of running through small seams & is very fast & quick.
    (3) C. Gray, looks to me like he would be a more than adequate backup RB with some upside, seems to be good enough to easily rate a 4-th rd pick. (Mercury Morris,II = ?)

    Obviously, RB’s have other fairly important jobs to do when on the field like catching passes, blocking and pass protection that we don’t see too much of on these films. I believe coaches don’t like RB’s that don’t pass protect very well and with a couple of the higher round guys, that could be a problem.

    IMO-Any of those three would make an excellent 4-th round pick. I could see Polk/James being available at pick #75 and either would undoubtably work for the Seahawks as well. IMO- they’ll go WR/RB or RB/WR in rounds 3 & 4. I personally would be happy with WR-M. Jones or Greg Childs at #75 and RB at #106.

  50. Wes

    I dont think they are looking for a “change of pace” RB. We already have that in Leon Washington. I think they are looking for a bigger back that can do everything that Lynch does, who can come in and play the same role without too much drop off. A guy like Leon or LaMichael James could never do that. They need a bigger guy like Martin, Turbin or Polk. Ideally, Martin in the 2nd round would be perfect, but it sounds like he will be gone by then

  51. AlaskaHawk

    It would be great if they could catch passes as they run out of the backfield too.

    Pead and James are more change of pace backs. Polk would be great if we get him in the third.

  52. D

    In review of the tapes I saw 2 backs I would take in round 2 in Polk and Turbin with great Athletic abilities to go with the necessary ability to read the blocking and set up blocks without dancing in the backfield. Gray also showed great vision in reading not just the holes but how to help the blockers necessary in the ZBS. He seemed to be more a a 4th round skill set but a great fit as a one cut style back. Miller and Martin both seemed like good first to second round backs that did not demonstrate the vision, beyond just the hole to how to setup the hole, to be worth the pick required to be appropriate value in the Hawks system. I did not see anything from the others that indicated they would be successful 3 down backs in the NFL.

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