It’s quite obvious the Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner is on the last of his tree trunks—or legs as most of us call them.
Turner is only averaging 3.7 yards/carry this season which is by far the worst in his entire career. The lowest before this season was the 2010 season with the Falcons where he averaged 4.1/carry.
Considering that most running backs careers are pretty close to over at his age (30) will be 31 at the beginning of next year, the question is which running backs in this year’s draft class would be a good fit in Atlanta?
I have come up with a top five list of running backs that might be ideal for the Falcons offensive scheme with uses the power running game to be able to manipulate the defense into believing they are running the ball and using paly action to get the ball to Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Here is the list:
1) Le’Veon Bell- Michigan State—If you are going to be replacing a bulldozer like Michael Turner than the most obvious place to look for a replacement would be the biggest bulldozer in all of college football. Bell is 6’2” and 242 lbs. and plays angry. He seems to get a thrill out of running people over and he also has the athleticism to jump over someone. Maybe the one concern here is the amount of carries he has had in his career with the Spartans. Through almost three full seasons he has 604 carries. This can be a ton of baggage for a guy that in this system would be asked to have a ton of carries again. He has the body to take the punishment however.
2) Eddie Lacy- Alabama—Lacy is only a Junior so this would be assuming he is coming out for the draft but this is a guy with all the talent in the world and has been coached by one of the best in Nick Saban. Lacy has averaged 6.5 yards/carry for his career. If you are comparing Lacy to Bell the advantage is he doesn’t have the wear and tear as he hasn’t necessarily been the feature back for three years, it’s just been this year and he has less than half of the career carries Bell has with 297.
3) Stepfan Taylor- Stanford—Taylor is very similar to Bell and this might be the pick if Bell would happen to be gone. Taylor isn’t as big but is just as powerful. Bell is smaller in stature at 5’11” and only weighs 215 pounds but he can carry the work load. He has 258 carries already this year and shows no signs of slowing down. He has been a huge part of the success of the Stanford program and he has a pro-ready body. He is the type of back you can bank on having a long and successful NFL career.
4) Spencer Ware- LSU—Ware is similar to the other running backs on this list. He’s big (5’11”, 223 lbs.) but he is more like Lacy in the regards that he doesn’t have all the carries on him the other two have. Ware only has 82 rushing attempts on the season. He would be fresh to take the ball on day one and never give it up. The risk you have with someone like this is can they handle the workload? With a body like his and even with few carries the pounding you take in the SEC every week it would make you believe he could handle it.
5) Montel Harris- Temple—This pick might be a late rounder but solely because of some character issues with Harris. He got into trouble when at Boston College and transferred to Temple for this last season. He was banged up in the beginning of the season but when healthy he has been an absolute force. Last week against Army, Harris ran the ball 36 times for 351 yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers are insane, I know it’s against Army but it’s still impressive. Harris is a big man as well at 5’10” and 207 pounds. He is most likely going to be a late pick or possibly a free agent but he would fit ideally into the Falcons system.
The Falcons could be looking at the Michael Turner situation and thinking it’s the end of the road, and although this year’s running back draft class isn’t loaded with a ton of first round talent there are plenty of second, third and even very late round picks that will have solid NFL careers. Maybe the solution to their issue is within one of the five running backs, one thing is for certain though, all of them will fill in nicely right in the big hole where Michael Turner used to be able to run through.