Chris “Beanie” Wells, a nickname given to him at birth by his family, will be evaluated in the weeklong invitation-only NFL Combine later this month.
Does the Ohio State running back have a shot at improving his draft stock? Will he impress scouts enough to overlook his potential injury-prone career? Let’s take a look at what I think will happen during this most important time for Beanie’s future.
First, running backs coming out of Ohio State have not had much success in recent years; Exhibit A is Maurice Clarett. Wells will have to put up a show at the combine to convince a team to take a chance on him. This, despite his great numbers: 585 carries for 3,382 yards and 30 touchdowns, ranking fourth in career rushing yards at the university.
Some project him to be one of the top two running backs taken in the 2009 NFL draft and possibly to even get drafted by a home state team. If he wants to go that high, he will have to have a great combine workout.
Wells will not only have to impress with the skill sets in the different areas of the combine but also with the interviews, Wonderlic test and injury evaluations he will be put through.
He will be put to the test on the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical and broad jump, 20-yard shuttle, and three-cone drill. Chris has the physical attributes to score high on these tests and should be up to the task on the others.
But he may have some problems with the injury evaluation. If you saw the Youngstown game this year when he was injured, it really didn’t look like the type of play that would hurt anyone. He just fell into the line. If teams are going to take a chance on a player with an injury, it would be one that at least was injured with contact of some sort.
Beanie has all the right attributes to make it in the NFL and, once the combine is over, that scouts will be drooling over him as a Top Ten pick. But the injury possibility may hold some of them back from pulling the trigger, causing his pick status to drop on draft day.
Based on what the interested teams need, it could be a drop like Brady Quinn experienced a couple years ago. If the Bengals or Browns don’t pick him, he could drop to somewhere between picks 12-15.
He would be a better fit in Cleveland, though, over Cincinnati. The Bengals signed Cedric Benson and he seems to have found a home there. The Browns have an aged back in Jamal Lewis and the younger backs on the team don’t seem to have the skills to be in the league long term.
Either of these teams would be getting a steal if they were to draft Wells, though. I look for him to have an impact like Steve Slaton did this year at Houston. Wells will have to show the scouts that he can catch, too, as that was not a part of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel’s offensive scheme.
If Wells were to drop to the 12-15 pick range, I look for the Redskins to snap him up. He would be a perfect fit in coach Jim Zorn’s offense and would be a good understudy for Clinton Portis. Plus, Wells would be a great addition to QB Jason Campbell’s receiving corps on deep passes.
Wells would fit best with the Browns, Bengals, or Redskins; any of these are his best chance for immediate playing time. As long as he can get the draft experts to look past any injury questions, Wells should be the first RB picked in the 2009 NFL Draft.