Is Drafting Chris "Beanie" Wells Worth the Risk?

Michael PeriattCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2009

There's no doubt Beanie Wells has talent. In three years, he rushed for over 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.  He averaged 5.7 yards per carry and flourished, even when his team didn't, in big games.  Combine that with his 6-1 237 pound frame and you would think he would be a top five pick, but there are serious questions surrounding his durability.

During his sophomore year, he battled an ankle  injury for most of the year.  He had surgery after the season and recovered to full strength.  However, during the first game against Youngstown state, he fell to the ground during a routine hand off from then starting quarterback, Todd Boeckman. 

Beanie missed the next three games including the embarrassing 35-3 loss to USC. For the rest of the season he was required to wear lineman shoes with a special insert for increased stability.  As the season continued, Beanie had problems with his hamstring, his ankle, and even a head injury during the Texas game in the Fiesta Bowl. 

The scouts see the numbers. but they also see that Beanie has spent almost two thirds of his career fighting through injuries.  There's no doubt that Beanie is a top 5 pick talent.  His rare combination of size and speed is perfect for the NFL, but teams have to be really careful about picking a guy who is injury prone. 

This concern, unfortunately for Beanie, has lead to his draft projections to fall to mid to late first round.  Some experts even put Georgia running back Knowshawn Moreno ahead of Beanie not because they think he's better, but a safer investment.

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Adrian Peterson had some of the same questions last year entering the draft.  He had his fair share of injuries (including a broken collarbone) throughout his college career. 

Just like Beanie, there was no doubt Adrian had talent and ultimately the scouts saw through it and he was drafted third overall and is undoubtedly one of, if not the best back in the NFL right now. However these durability issues seem to be affecting Beanie more than Peterson. 

Beanie has had plenty of injuries, but none of his injuries have been terribly serious.  He does not have any permanent damage and he has shown great toughness by playing through most of the injuries during his career. 

In fact, Beanie "begged" Buckeye coach Jim Tressel to let him play the USC game.  By the time the draft comes around, Beanie should be full strength and ready to make an immediate impact in the NFL.

Overall, Beanie is more than worth the risk.  The durability questions are overblown and over-exaggerated.  Beanie is a prototypical NFL back and any team that gets him will be rewarded.


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