Seahawks general manager John Schneider on Monday aptly called today’s college football "basketball on grass."
College backs are pass catchers and shotgun-draw scat backs more than they are traditional runners that read, set up blocks and burst through holes.
Thing is, Seattle – and Carolina, and Jacksonville, and Oakland, and much of the NFL -- need more runners that read, set up blocks and burst through holes.
The Seahawks need two of them. Or more.
"I’ve been asked that for 15 years if it’s better to have two running backs or one. I’ve always thought that’s really valuable when you can have two guys or three guys that you can work," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "And we have not had any hesitation (doing that), going back to our college days."
"If there’s a guy that’s so dominant that nobody else deserves the play time then you’ve got a great one," Carroll said. "But I don’t think it’s any more so today than ever before. We have always been an advocate of like a one-two punch kind of formula."
Seattle may have that in 2017. Or, if they get hurt again, they may not.
The Seahawks have the desire to be more balanced this year, back to more effective and consistent runner. They also have former Green Bay Packer Eddie Lacy, signed in March for one year and up to $5.55 million, joining Thomas Rawls. But Lacy has to stay in shape. He ballooned to over 260 pounds from his listed 234 in Green Bay before the Packers gave up on him. Lacy’s weight is such an issue the Seahawks included seven weight-target incentives in his contract. If he stays under them he will earn $55,000 each in May through December. Lacy also missed most of last season with the Packers because of an ankle injury.
Rawls, entering his third NFL year with Seattle, has yet to finish a full season as a starting running back since he was at Flint Northern High School in Michigan. He broke his ankle in December of his wowing rookie season in 2015, the year that convinced the Seahawks they were moving on past Marshawn Lynch. Last season Rawls cracked a leg bone in the second game. He wasn’t right all season.
The Seahawks drafted C.J. Prosise in the third round last year to be their third-down back. Prosise was injured from the first rookie minicamp in May throughout the season. Though impressive at New England and early the following game against Philadelphia when he had a 72-yard touchdown run, Prosise broke his shoulder blade against the Eagles. He missed two months into January’s playoffs.
“We’ve just got to get him available,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks may use some of the five picks they have over the first 106 selections in the NFL draft Thursday and Friday on a running back, as insurance in case Rawls and Prosise remain brittle or Lacy remains too large.
Or simply as a long-term investment in a position they still value.
TNT’s TOP RUNNING BACKS IN 2017 NFL DRAFT
not necessarily order in which they will get drafted
1. Leonard Fournette, LSU: A runaway truck with hands to catch it, too.
2. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford: Some believe he is the best player in the draft. Period.
3. Dalvin Cook, Florida State: If he lasts that long, likely staying home at No. 19 to Tampa.
4. Joe Mixon, Oklahoma: Many scouts feel he’s the best back in the draft. “Issues aside” is, well, an issue.
5. Alvin Kamara, Tennessee: Speed and receiving hands of a man much smaller than 214 pounds. Also a returner.
6. D’Onta Foreman, Texas: Told NFL Network of pain from son dying last fall at just 2 months old