NY Jets: Running Back issues

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NY Jets: Running Back issues
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Kansas City signed Thomas Jones to a two-year deal after the Jets released him.

New York did not want to pay him the roster bonus he was due. The team should have kept him considering he has rushed for 2700 yards with 27 touchdowns the past two seasons.

However, he was due a $3 million roster bonus on top of a $2.8 million base salary and Jones did not want to take a pay cut. “Jones ranks second only to LaDainian Tomlinson, who also was cut by his team, in yards rushing since 2005″.

Jones is coming off a career year where he rushed for 1402 yards and 14 touchdowns. However, the 331 regular season carries was the most of his 10-year career. Jones has rushed for at least 1100 yards in each of his past five seasons.

His consistency can be credited due to his workout regimen but he is turning 32-years old in August. Also, the Jets boast one of the top offensive lines in the league which has increased his success. He only had 2.6 yards per carry (117 total yards) in three playoff games.

One of the main reasons the Jets cut Jones was the emergence of Greene. He rushed for 304 yards in the postseason and averaged 5.0 yards per carry in the regular season. Greene should thrive as the main running back but the team needs to add depth.

Both the 49ers and Patriots have a rumored interested in Jets restricted free agent running back Leon Washington. If the Jets do not match an offer sheet made by another team then New York gets a second-round draft pick in return.

The upcoming NFL draft is deep at running back with likes as: C.J. Spiller, Ryan Matthews, Jahvid Best, Jonathan Dwyer, Toby Gerhart and LaGarrette Blount.  The backs the Jets should target are Anthony Dixon from Mississippi State and Dexter McCluster from Ole Miss.

“Dixon is a big, powerful back that runs with a good pad level and does a good job of keeping his feet alive to gain yards after contact. He lacks the speed to be a threat out wide or to take many all the way once he gets to the second level but he will move the chains and sustain drives.

"He can be a bit inconsistent when it comes to blocking but has the ability to deliver a good blow when he wants to. He will likely initially be a short yardage or red zone back that specializes in gaining the tough yards.”

Dixon led the SEC in rushing and was 15th in the nation with 1391 yards. In his four years he has never fumbled the ball (910 carries).

He has good size at 6″1″ and 245 pounds. He had a strong combine which was highlighted by a 10′1″ in the broad jump. His 40 time was 4.6  which is very similar to what Shonn Greene ran. Dixon does not have explosive speed but like Greene is an effective inside power runner.

“Undersized for the running back position and may end up being a wide receiver or return specialist at the next level. McCluster got a lot of all purpose yardage as a combination running back/receiver in Mississippi’s offense.

He has had ball security issues over the years and needs to prove he can avoid turnovers if he wants to prove a player his size can contribute.

He has the speed to turn a short dump off pass into a long touchdown with just a single missed tackle. While he is a bit of a luxury item, some team is apt to take a chance that he can contribute in situations.”

McCluster had a poor 40 time for his reputation (4.58) but posted the best top short shuttle time at 4.06. He rushed for 1,169 yards and caught 44 passes for 520 yards in his senior season.

He had some big games which included 282 rushing yards (four Tds) vs. Tennessee, 260 total yards vs. Arkansas and 184 rushing yards in the Cotton Bowl. He may be undersized but he is multi-talented and has tremendous potential.

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