The Broncos had no problem letting last year’s starting running back Knowshon Moreno (Miami Dolphins) move on in free agency. They were able to do that because last year’s second-round pick, Montee Ball, should be able to step in and start in 2014.
Behind Ball the Broncos have C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman. Anderson has a nice blend of power and initial quickness. He should be the primary backup behind Ball this year. Hillman is the team’s change-of-pace back, and he’s arguably the fastest player on the team. Fumbling problems in 2013 cost him an opportunity at more playing time. Without Moreno, the Broncos need to add another back to the mix.
That back could be Isaiah Crowell.
He’s a naturally talented runner who originally burst onto the college scene with the Georgia Bulldogs as the SEC’s Offensive Freshman of the Year. Weapons charges (later dropped) got him bounced off the roster, so he had to transfer to Alabama State. This off-field issue will likely cause his draft stock to tumble.
On Monday, Elway talked about how he grades players with baggage.
“What we do, is that we look at every player and we look at the full package that each player has to offer. One issue or another—we try to put them as a group as what he has to offer us with the Denver Broncos and if he can come in here and help us. That goes into evaluating each player. Whether it be character, mentality, football mentality—that all goes along with the player.”
Crowell has the size to wear down an opposing defense. He also has the speed and initial quickness to get through the hole quickly. Once at the second level, Crowell has the ability to bounce plays outside and turn them into long gains. He’s also a good option as a receiver out of the backfield.
Focus and motivation are two concerns with Crowell. Just like Bryce Brown (Philadelphia Eagles) when he came out of college, Crowell must prove a dedication to the game. He needs to show the discipline to work hard in the film room and the weight room. Crowell loves to be “the man”, but he has to show patience going pro and beginning his career as a backup or special teams player.
When taking in all the factors that will go into drafting Crowell, the Broncos could find him as a value pick at the end of the fifth round. If he stays out of trouble (as he did at Alabama State), then Crowell has the ability to be a quality starter at the pro level.