Everybody loves a long shot. It’s the fairy tale with the climactic ending that can give you chills. The thing that makes it exciting is that there were people that said he couldn’t do it. He persevered on and stayed the course because he knew in his heart that he could play.
We all want to believe in the small-school products because they are the long shots. On this playing field that we call the NFL, players from football factories like USC, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Michigan and Georgia are thrust center stage into the combine. They get evaluated by scouts who saw them play against better players than the small schools.
Every once in a while we get surprised at the next level by someone who didn’t play against elite competition, wasn’t invited to the combine and wasn’t used very often. I think in most cases there is more tread left on the tires. I like to call them dark horses.
Here’s my Dark Horse with the most upside for this year:
1. Isaac Redman, RB,
I know there are people reading this saying Jonathan Dwyer is Mendenhall’s backup. Some are enamored with the run-and-catch of Mewelde Moore who was a nice fill-in. Redman (6-foot, 230 pounds) out of
Practice is over folks.
This guy is my top pick to be a goal line vulture. In short, Mendenhall owners are pissed now that they overpaid. I know how it feels, and I am getting a good chuckle out of it. The risk is low with this guy. He will score and now the question looms as to how often?
I have seen this guy run around, over and through defenders. He gets 10 goal line carries and converts 6-7 of them. Lock this guy up now if you can.
Here’s my Dark Horses with moderate upside for this year:
1. Kareem Huggins, RB,
Some wise guys are chanting Earnest “goes to camp” Graham despite his non-productive transition to the fullback role last season. Huggins goes about 5-foot-8 and 198 pounds. He is similar to a scatback size than a true tailback. The Hofstra product packed Derrick Ward’s bags himself then leapfrogged Graham on the depth chart. Did I mention he’s got 4.28 speed and good vision? He only had 428 carries in four years. Plenty of tread left on the tires. I’m not saying he’s the next Mr. 4.24 but he is the next Mr. 4.28. Buy now! Love my coffee with sugar and Kareem.
2. Chris Ivory, RB,
He is a very good between the tackles runner. He has a good burst, very quick feet and good hands. Mike Bell has left the building which leaves Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, and your friend Ivory (6-foot, 222 pounds).
Maybe you saw him take a swing pass make a cut, accelerate only pausing for a moment to put the hurt on San Diego Chargers’ scrub safety and then use his upper body strength and balance to straight arm his way into the end zone. He reminded me of Ricky Williams wearing that Saints uniform. While that is no reason to get excited, his size makes him an intriguing prospect as the Saints offense will have lots of red zone opportunities.
The only one that size doesn’t matter to is your wife or girlfriend, and she’s supposed to say that to make you feel better. Remember … she loves you!
If you think Bush or Thomas is the goal line back then you clearly can’t see the forest from the trees. I’m not buying just yet, but he’s on the radar and more than just a blip.
There are plenty more dark horses in the stable waiting to be run but no one has given them the opportunity. I have given you a look at three that have not only the right tools but the right situation and the best upside. Happy hunting for your next breakout running back. May you look deeper than just the obvious football factories and find your next stud out of
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