You can't blame the Houston Texans for trusting their ability to scout running backs form the undrafted free-agent crop. 2009 undrafted free agent Arian Foster has only turned into the league's leading rusher in 2010 and a franchise player entering this season.
So when one of the most respected beat writers in the league, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, reports that the coaches "love" undrafted rookie running back Jonathan Grimes, we should take notice.
What do we know about Grimes? He was a four-year starter at William & Mary, capping his career with a 1,431 yard, 10-touchdown senior season. Sports Illustrated cited his elusiveness, instincts, vision, ability to run low to the ground and set up blocks, strength and leg drive as positives. He also graded out as a good receiver out of the backfield and blocker.
That makes Grimes sound like a first-round pick. The negatives, according to SI, are his ability to turn the corner, change direction on a dime and run away from defenders.
Grimes' pro day numbers per Pro Football Weekly tell a slightly different story, as Grimes had a 4.55 40, 38" vertical, 4.03 short shuttle and 6.84 three-cone time .
For comparison's sake, first-round pick Doug Martin ran a 4.55 with a 36" vertical, 4.16 short shuttle and 6.79 three-cone drill at the combine. Martin is carrying about 15 more pounds than Grimes and played at a higher level of competition, but the raw physical tools are similar.
Dave Fairbank of the Daily Press reported that Grimes said about 10 teams courted him as the draft was winding down, and he took about 25 minutes to make his decision. He chose them because they called first, they were willing to give him time to decide and they said they would give him a chance to compete for the No. 3 running back job.
Even if it didn't figure into his decision, the Texans' ability to turn an undrafted running back into an All-Pro could make him look very smart for choosing them, as long as he makes them look smart for choosing him.