Indianapolis Colts fans can tell you quickly when the running game started going downhill. It was the day Edgerinn James left for Arizona. Bill Polian and company decided Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes were enough to carry the load in Indy.
While it worked out at first, with the Colts winning the Super Bowl in Addai's rookie year, the long-term effects are still being seen.
Addai appears unable to stay healthy, missing 17 games over the last four years. His productivity has slumped, too. He's averaged over four yards per carry only once in the last four seasons, and he only played in eight contests that season (2010). He hasn't topped 1000 rushing yards since 2007 despite playing in 15 games during the Colts' 2009 Super Bowl season.
He just hasn't been the player the Colts were hoping for when they took him in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft.
Fellow number one draft pick Donald Brown flashed some potential this year. Not only did he stay healthy the entire year, but he averaged a very respectable 4.8 yards per carry. This is slightly misleading, as he did have a run of 80 yards, which was over 12% of his total rushing yardage. Take that run away and he still managed a decent 4.2 YPC.
2011 rookie running back Delone Carter did not perform as well as expected. The Colts drafted Carter as something of a goal-line back. At 5'9" and 225 lbs., Carter was expected to blast his way to at least a handful of scores. Instead, he averaged a paltry 3.7 YPC and had only two trips to the end zone. To make matters worse, the rookie lost three fumbles in only 101 carries.
The Colts should not give up on any of these backs just yet. However, time is running out for Addai to prove himself a valuable commodity.
Though running back is hardly a top need of the Colts heading into the 2012 draft, it is a position whose value has greatly risen later in the draft in recent years.
More and more backs are slipping deeper into the draft because of teams' unwillingness to spend high draft picks on players whose shelf life is significantly lower than that of other positions.
The vast majority of teams are now invested in a committee of running backs, including the Colts. However, the Colts committee needs a shot in the arm.
Here are a few backs that could help add some sizzle to the Colts backfield.