The Falcons are bringing back the same backfield they had last season with the exception of trading up by replacing Michael Turner with Steven Jackson. Behind Jackson we have Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling and Antone Smith. At fullback we have Bradie Ewing and I just don't see us carrying more than one FB on the roster.
There are so many needs on defense and now we also have some question-marks on the offensive line with the release of Tyson Clabo. I just can't see the Falcons going with a running back early. Because of that let's take a look at RBs who might be available in the fourth round or later as the Falcons have eight picks from that point forward and might be able to pick up someone who can supplant Smith on the roster or somebody who can bide some time on the practice roster. Remember that Steven Jackson isn't a long-term solution so it might be wise to draft for the future here if the right guy is available. In addition to looking at players in the mid-to-later rounds, let's take a look at guys who have a knack for catching passes out of the backfield and might be a good fit for Dirk Koetter's offense.
Here are some capsules on some potential targets and what some scouting sites had to say about them:
Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State, 6'0/204 (3rd-5th round projection)
DetroitLionsDraft: He excels both as a blocker and as a pass catcher, maybe the best at both in this class. Randle could play a very valuable role similar to what Darren Sproles has done in New Orleans in recent seasons minus some of the return responsibilities. He’s a player in the pros but he isn’t a star like Jamal Charles or CJ Spiller.
Mike Gillislee, Florida, 5'10/198 (4th-5th)
WalterFootball: Gillislee is extremely well-rounded as a player and a ball-carrier. He is a very decisive runner and doesn't dance behind the line of scrimmage. Gillislee simply makes one cut and quickly charges ahead. He has excellent cutting ability to dodge defenders and pick up positive yards. Gillislee additionally has good enough speed to get to the second level of the defense. He is shifty and makes defenders miss while retaining deceptive power. Gillislee has the ability to run through arm tackles and pick up yards after contact. In the passing-driven NFL, Gillislee is exactly what many NFL offensive coordinators are looking for. He is a good receiver out the backfield who can run routes in the short part of the field as well as going downfield. Gillislee has very good hands, and he is a better receiver than his totals indicate.
Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt, 5'9/210 (4th-7th)
NFLMocks: Stacy probably has the best vision of any back in this year’s draft class. Not only does he seem to have a knack for finding the hole, but he seems to have an uncanny instinct that tells him how long it will be until a certain a hole plugs up. Stacy is an extremely valuable asset on pass plays. He is good at catching the ball, but his best asset on pass plays is easily his blocking.
Ray Graham, Pitt, 5'9/195 (4th-6th)
Football Outsiders: Graham’s weakness is his lack of power between the tackles, he runs with good pad level and he will keep his feet moving. If Graham can stay healthy, I think he’ll be a bargain for an NFL team that wants a back with dynamic skills in space who can be a third-down player and eventually grow into the lead back in a committee.
Jawan Jamison, Rutgers, 5'10/222 (4th-6th)
CBSSports: Versatile back who can provide production as a runner between the tackles and as a receiver out of the backfield. Elusive runner who isn't afraid of contact. While he has a tough mentality when running with the ball, Jamison is still undersized at 5-8, 200 pounds and likely lacks the bulk to be an every-down back in the NFL.
Kerwynn Williams, Utah State, 5'9/193 (5th-7th)
CBSSports.com: Possesses a short, compact frame. Takes quick, choppy steps which give him great lateral agility and burst. Savvy runner who varies his gait, lulling defenders with one speed before showing a quick burst to break into the open field. Very good vision to recognize cut back lanes and make use of downfield blockers. Possesses excellent ball skills. Secures passes quickly with his hands, showing the ability to easily adjust his body to make tough catches and still maintain forward momentum. Only logged one season (2012) with more than 81 carries so durability has to be a concern despite the fact that Williams never missed a collegiate game due to injury. Too often goes down to first contact, showing little power to bounce off tackles. Relies on his ability to make defenders miss.
Previous Draft Outlooks