Since 2004, six teams have selected a running back in the top ten selections of the draft—and the theory makes sense to an extent.
Running backs set the tone for the whole offense, they carry the ball usually around 250 times a season, and while a decent back isn’t all that hard to find, having an elite one can lead a team to the promised land.
However, since 2004, only one of those running backs has enjoyed the success projected in Adrian Peterson.
Ronnie Brown has been a solid, albeit struggling, back for the Dolphins, and guys like Cedric Benson, Reggie Bush, and Darren McFadden haven’t lived up to their draft hype.
So, that brings us to the main point of this article: Is the 2010 projected top running back, C.J. Spiller of Clemson, worthy of being taken in the top ten?
The reason any playmaker gets taken in the top ten is that he’s viewed as more than just a “difference maker”. A top ten pick needs to be a consistent Pro Bowl talent, among the tops at his position, and a face of the franchise.
Spiller has the rare game-breaking speed that most people on this earth can’t have, even when he’s in pads. That speed, coupled with his tremendous elusiveness as a runner in the open field makes Spiller a player that is hard to plan against and stop as a runner at any level.
He can be a versatile back in the sense that he can come out of the backfield, catch passes, run inside and out, and can aid in the return game early on in his career until he gets settled.
Spiller can also be the feature back in a few select systems.
However, Spiller doesn’t have the strength as a runner or the power in his running style to be an every-down back.
He’ll most definitely need a complementary, power back to assist in any running system, or else he’ll be overburdened and overworked to the point where he can’t be sufficient as a playmaker.
There are four teams in the top ten that are interested and are strong possibilities to be intrigued with Spiller and his skill set.
The Chiefs, with Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith, are nothing special.
The Seahawks have with no real running back threat.
The Browns, with Mike Holmgren in the mix who loves having a speedy back, as he was strongly interested in Chris Johnson a few years ago; and Buffalo, who may want to move on from the oft-in trouble Marshawn Lynch, are all options.
Spiller is a risk as a top ten talent because he’s not a complete player, as you’d expect, and will need another back with him.
His potential is more along the lines of Reggie Bush and Darren McFadden than Adrian Peterson because he’s more of a match-up nightmare than a complete, franchise-changing back.
But if a team in need of a game-changer is either in or is willing to trade up into the top ten, C.J. Spiller could be the solution to their problems.
While he’s in Optimum Scouting ’s top ten on the value board, giving top ten guaranteed money on a guy who has fairly high bust potential, it’s a risky idea to snatch up Spiller in the first ten selections on April 22nd .