7 RBs for Denver Broncos to Replace Willis McGahee in 2013 NFL Draft
Denver Broncos Can Replace Willis McGahee With 1 of These 7 RBs
The Denver Broncos just finished up a remarkable season that ended in a disappointing loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC divisional game. The Broncos were much improved after adding QB Peyton Manning to an already solid roster on both sides of the ball.
A big part of that roster the last couple of seasons has been RB Willis McGahee, but he was injured with a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee and missed eight weeks when he was placed on the eight week injured reserve. Had the Broncos beaten the Ravens, McGahee would have been eligable to return in the AFC Championship game.
McGahee is coming off a season in which he played 10 games and rushed for 731 yards and four touchdowns. He maintained an average of 4.4 yards per carry while adding 26 receptions for 221 yards to make his total yardage 952 in 10 games.
McGahee is 31 years old and coming off a major injury. He is still under contract with the Broncos, but is due to received $2.5 million in 2013 and I am wondering what the Broncos will decide to do with him.
If they decide to let McGahee go, the Broncos already have a couple of viable options in second-year RB Ronnie Hillman and fifth-year RB Knowshon Moreno.
Moreno stepped up in McGahee's absence by rushing for 525 yards and four touchdwons, while keeping a 3.8 yard-per-carry average and adding 21 receptions for 167 yards.
Hillman maintained his change-of-pace role when McGahee was injured and recored 330 yards and one touchdown while averaging 3.9 yards per carry and adding 62 yards through the air.
The Broncos already have a couple of decent options, but what they are lacking is a bigger back that can pound opposing defenses who also shows plenty of ability to be a three-down back. The 2013 NFL Draft may have a few backs that the Broncos could use whether they replace McGahee or just simply add another back for the future.
Here are seven that may end up being that guy for the Broncos.
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Christine Michael, Texas A&M
Texas A&M RB Christine Michael is a big back at 5'10" and 220 pounds and he may be just what the Broncos need to compliment Hillman and Moreno.
Michael impressed at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine by recording a 4.41 40-yard dash, benched 27 reps of 225 pounds and set a running back record with a verticle jump of 43 inches. He had the best vertical, cone drill and 20-yard shuttle of all the running backs at the combine, so he has great athleticism to go along with his power.
He also has had some off-the-field issues and overslept at the combine.
Michael is a big back that is also very athletic which makes his off the field issues worth the risk.
I hope the Broncos land this guy in the second round.
Giovani Bernard, North Carolina University
North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard is a dazzling runner, but size (5'10" and 205 pounds) and durability are legitimate concerns.
Bernard tore his ACL on the third day of fall practice in 2010 and took a redshirt. He returned in 2011 and became one of two freshmen tailbacks in Tar Heels history to earn first-team All-ACC honors after he rushed for a school freshman record 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns.
In 2012 Bernard led the ACC with an average of 122.8 rushing yards per game. He rushed for 1,228 yards, which came in just 10 games as he missed two contests with a knee injury.
I am not sure if the Broncos need this kind of back, but Bernard is the type of player that could help any offense. He should be off the board by the end of the second round.
Andre Ellington, Clemson
Clemson RB Andre Ellington stands at 5'10" and 198 lbs., which is not what the Broncos need, especially if they lose McGahee, but if they keep the veteran, Ellington may be another option to compliment him.
Ellington became only the fourth Clemson player to rush for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. He is a very quick runner and would be similar to Hillman.
I do not see the Broncos making this move, but Ellington could help any team if you use him in the right situations.
Spencer Ware, LSU
LSU RB Spencer Ware is 5'11" and 215 lbs., runs somewhere in the range of a 4.5 - 4.6 in the 40 and is a punishing runner.
He would be a great compliment to Moreno and Hillman because he runs simialr to Marion Barber, who punished opposing tacklers for short yardage late in games.
He would not be the type to carry the ball 20 times a game because he would wear down from the load, but he would be a great fit other the the fact he may be shaky with his pass blocking.
The Broncos could grab Ware early on the second day of the draft if they like him.
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford
Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor is a solid all-around back who stands at 5'9" and 214 lbs. His 40 times are pretty slow at around 4.7 but he proves to be much faster on the field.
Taylor doesn't have that top notch speed to break long runs, but he does everything else extremely well. He pass blocks, catches balls out of the back field and has a well-built frame with powerful legs, which will make him a surefire second-day pick.
I could see the Broncos slecting this guy because he is used to staying on the back field to pass block and knows when to step to the side and become a receiver. He also is a powerful runner who can carry a load of carries game in and game out.
This would be a solid pick for the Broncos if they could land him in the third round.
Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Wisconsin RB Montee Ball stands at 5'11 and 215 lbs. His combine performance was very...lets say "not spectacular." He ran a 4.66 in the 40, which was not even in the top half of running backs and had the seventh-best cone drill. He didn't rank anywhere close in all the other events.
I know these drills don't make you a player and what you do on the field means much more than these times, but they do mean a lot when a Super Bowl-caliber team is looking for the final piece to its title puzzle.
I'm not going to say that Ball won't eventually make a great NFL player, but I will say that he won't be drafted on day one with out someone taking a huge leap of faith.
Broncos, stay clear, please.
Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Alabama RB Eddie Lacy weighed in at 5'11" and 231 pounds at the scouting combine. He is a little heavier than normal because he's been recovering from a hamstring injury that will hold him out of participating in the events. He hopes to be able to work out for scouts in time for Alabama's March 13 pro day.
He rushed for over 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns last year for Alabama before declaring for the draft as a redshirt junior. Playing in the SEC proves he is tough enough to play against elite NFL defenses and he proved that during Alabama's national title run. He runs a 4.50-4.65 40 which isn't top end speed, but he's quick enough to be an every-down back and big enough to be a bruiser.
If the Broncos plan to land Lacy they better grab him with the 28th overall pick if he's still available.
After looking at all these backs I would feel best if the Broncos were to draft either Lacy at 28th or waiting and either grabbing Michael or Taylor in the late second or early-to-mid third round. I feel those guys would best suit the Broncos, whether they keep McGahee or not.