Jets Running Back Danny Woodhead: Better than Advertised

Kevin RobertsSenior Writer IJuly 8, 2009

Thomas Jones will be 31 in August, yet his spot as the New York Jets' starting running back is finely cemented.

Rookie Shonn Greene has somehow already earned the "closer" role, while the bit-size Leon Washington continues his change-of-pace role.

Great.

So, where does that leave Danny Woodhead?

Who?

This guy.

Still don't know who he is?

I'm not surprised.

Woodhead, a 5'7" running back out of D-II Chadron State, probably isn't a household name outside of Nebraska.

Turned down by several D-I schools due to his lack of height, Woodhead decided not to attempt to be a walk-on with a big school. Rather, he felt more like being wanted by a team instead of being just another player.

I agree with that sentiment, because Woodhead isn't just another player.

He's a physical specimen with outstanding speed and agility.

Since Woodhead wasn't invited to the NFL scouting combine in 2008, due to his small school and lack of size, he was forced to pack in his workouts for scouts at his "pro day."

According to a report from NFLDraftWatch.net, Woodhead posted impressive times in almost every major category.

He displayed speed and agility, running times between 4.33 and 4.38 in the 40-yard dash, which would place second overall for all college running backs.

He also posted the best agility time (4.03 seconds), the second-best vertical jump (38.5 in), and the best 60-yard shuttle time (11.2) seconds.

Despite only being 5'7" and weighing in at 200 lbs., Woodhead had the best athletic times, overall, of all the running back prospects in the nation.

If those numbers don't sway you, perhaps a look at his college stats will.

Woodhead, the NCAA's former all-time leading rusher (record recently broken by Mount Union's Nate Kmic), put up his fourth straight 1,500-yard season in 2007, as well as his fourth straight season with at least 21 touchdowns.

He's also known for his ridiculous 2006 season, in which he compiled over 2,700 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns in just 13 games.

Woodhead also displayed his receiving ability throughout his career, as he topped at least 30 receptions in his final three years and scored eight touchdowns on receptions for his career.

Let's be honest with ourselves.

If you put Woodhead's numbers up to any other back in that 2008 draft, without knowing his size, name, or school, he's your first pick, hands down.

Even if that isn't the case and you'd still prefer all the other bigger, more experienced backs who faced tough competition, his numbers and athleticism put him in the middle rounds at least, right?

Wrong.

Despite all the numbers, Woodhead found himself undrafted in 2008, soon afterward signing a free agent contract with the Jets.

But here we are, two years removed from his sensational finale at Chadron State, still hoping he gets an honest chance.

With the flush of smaller backs taking the league by storm, now is as good a time as ever for Woodhead to make his splash and earn a spot with a team.

If that team happens to be New York, then so be it.

However, considering the Jets have money invested in Jones, a third-rounder invested in Greene, and already have a 5'8'' running back in Washington, there may not be room for Woodhead.

But there should be.

Woodhead is just like Darren Sproles, Jerious Norwood, and Maurice Jones-Drew.

He's an ultra-athletic back that has been doubted his entire life, told "no" by anyone he meets, and has constantly overcome the odds.

The only difference is those running backs previously listed got their chance at a D-I school, and they didn't have to wait for their shot in the NFL.

Not like Woodhead has.

I know this article won't save Woodhead's career. It won't make him the New York Jets' starter, and it won't even guarantee him a spot on their roster.

But what I hope it does is make people aware of his talent and his humble personality. I hope New York fans and NFL fans alike can recognize his ability and cheer him on.

Because Danny Woodhead is an underdog, even though he shouldn't be.