2010 NFL Draft: It's Time for Toby Gerhart To Get Some Respect

Kevin Roberts@BreakingKevinSenior Writer IMarch 2, 2010

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 28:  Toby Gerhart #7 of the Stanford Cardinal is congratulated by fans after they beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Stanford Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Toby Gerhart isn't like most of the other running backs in the 2010 NFL Draft . He's not a burner like Jahvid Best or C.J. Spiller.

He doesn't have the insane versatility of a Dexter McCluster.

He played at Stanford, got loads of carries, had the offense run through him, and was fed national attention.

At least that's what his haters spew out.

He's not fast enough to run with the big boys.

Well, his 40-yard dash at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine tells us different.

His solid time of 4.53 shows us all that he indeed can run with the big boys.

Now he just needs that chance.

But scouts still remain somewhat down on him. They question his devotion to the game, citing his talents in baseball—fearing if drafted, he may jump ship for the major leagues.

Just ask the kid. That isn't happening.

He gets knocked for a knee injury suffered earlier in his career. What naysayers call a hindrance, I call experience.

Those injuries were more than two years ago. Since then, Gerhart has rushed for more than 3,000 yards and more than 40 touchdowns on the ground.

Show me a kid who hasn't ever gotten hurt, and I'll show you one who's about to. While that may take it to the extreme, let's just take a look back at how skeptics viewed Oklahoma back Adrian Peterson as fragile.

It's an opinion. It's a thought from someone viewing from the outside. It's a naysayer looking for a flaw.

But with Gerhart, there aren't any flaws—not after he showed that he can run with the best of them.

Best and Spiller; they're freaks.

They can burn it like few can, and those guys aren't the norm. That breed of running back—heck, that breed of player—isn't an every day occurrence.

And in comparison with Gerhart, even they arguably fall short.

Neither back is a complete, full-blown feature back. When being discussed in draft-day scenarios, very rarely has either one been talked about as being an every-down starter.

They are change-of-pace backs. They are versatile, explosive, and unique. And even if they could be a full-fledged starter, that doesn't necessarily mean they ever will be.

I mean, remember when the Tennessee Titans drafted Chris Henry? Yeah, that's what depending on speed gets you.

But maybe it's not simply the speed that gets you with Gerhart. Maybe it's the fact—cue the racist remarks—that he's a white guy playing a position that only black guys play in the NFL.

He's got no business playing that spot. He doesn't have the athleticism. He doesn't have the speed, the burst, the quickness, the agility, the elusiveness to keep up with NFL linebackers—or more, to get past them.

Really? Who says?

This is a guy who did some serious damage in the Pac-10 in back-to-back years. He absolutely destroyed Oregon, USC, California, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma. And he did this all consecutively—and he did this to end the season.

Sure, not all of those defenses were marquee. Naturally, that's the first remark out of a naysayer's mouth.

Oh, this team ranked here, or that team ranked there. True, and I won't fight anyone on it. But does the public—at least the public against Gerhart—mean to tell me that this guy hasn't earned his stripes?

How many defenders entering this year's NFL draft are coming out of Oregon, USC, Cal, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma?

Do you think Taylor Mays believes Gerhart can play in the NFL? How about Gerald McCoy? Or even Everson Griffin?

I assure you, these players—who are elite NFL prospects—can attest to how good Gerhart is. He ran all over them and their respective teams, after all.

At what point are we going to stop making excuses?

When will be a good time to allow a white running back to break through the chains of the scouting world, rise from high school, fight off scholarship players, prove his worth, and then actually be given the chance to play tailback at the pro level?

When do we finally say, "Crap. You know what? This kid can play."

Gerhart is not a fullback. He's not a tight end. He's not a short yardage, goal-line, or third down back.

This guy has proven in every way possible in the past two seasons that he is a bonafide feature back at the next level.

People say, well, his stats are bloated. Stanford fed him the ball 343 times in 2009. That's the only reason he racked up 1,871 yards. Without all those carries and that massive role, he never would have had 28 rushing touchdowns in his final year with Stanford.

Well, no kidding.

But did anyone ever stop to think that the fact that he was being fed the ball this much actually works to his advantage? 

The guy routinely got fed the ball. For all intents and purposes, he was the Stanford offense. Yet despite knowing this, the opposition couldn't stop him.

How does that not blow people away?

No more knocks. No more excuses. No more comparisons to John Riggins and Mike Alstott.

Put a blanket over all the backs and watch the tape again. Double-check those numbers.

In the end, if Gerhart isn't starting somewhere, getting the chance he's been dreaming of, you can be sure we're missing out on something special.


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