New offensive coordinator Hue Jackson might want to inject new blood to the [running back] group. It’s a good year to do so as the position is deep in this year’s draft class.
West was insanely productive from the get-go at tiny Towson University in Maryland. As a freshman, he ran for 1,294 yards and had 29 total touchdowns. As a junior last season, West had an eye-popping 2,509 yards on the ground and 41 touchdowns–both FCS records. He could be a great complementary back in the Bengals’ system with his 5’9″, 225 pound size and 4.54 speed. Russ Lande and Dane Brugler of CBS Sports have West rated as their No.7 running back in this year’s class.
Giovanni Bernard should receive the majority of the work at RB, but the Bengals could use an upgrade over BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
The Browns currently have the following receivers on the roster: Josh Gordon, Nate Burleson Greg Little, Travis Benjamin, Andrew Hawkins, Josh Cooper, Charles Johnson, Tori Gurley and Vernon Conner.
Cooper and Gurley are what they are. We’ve seen enough of them. Odds would be against either of them being on the team next year.
Charles Johnson is a bit of a wild card in that the Browns brought him in from Green Bay’s practice squad last year, and then discovered that he had an ACL tear as well. League rules stipulated that the Browns keep him on the roster for at least three weeks. Obviously, Johnson never played a snap for the Browns. He didn’t even practice with the team. That makes judging his chances of sticking with the team pretty difficult. They can’t be that good.
Vernon Conner was signed very late in the season off Oakland’s practice squad. He is a slot receiver. That spot is starting to get pretty crowded in the locker room. Conner won’t be around long.
What do the Browns do with Little? His salary isn’t a drain on the cap. He’s still on the young end of his prime, and hasn’t had the injury bug. In fact, Little has played in every game of his three year career, and caught at least one pass in all but four games.
But it is hard to feel like Little can be trusted in big situations. Too many drops.
The chances that the Browns draft at least one wide receiver in the first two or three rounds is high. If they draft a pair of receivers, no matter how high, Burleson and Little could be battling for a spot on the roster. You would have to give the advantage to Burleson there.
Josh Gordon’s role as the number one receiver and Hawkins’ role as a #3/4 WR are more or less set. Burleson will most likely make the team as a #2/3 WR. Benjamin is returning from a torn ACL suffered in week 8, so he may not be ready for the season, but he has shown he has enough talent to make the team. If Little can outperform others in camp, he’s earned a roster spot, but, if not, the Browns should move on.
At the NFL scouting combine, Campanaro ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds, registered a 39-inch vertical leap, a 10-2 broad jump, a 6.77 three-cone drill and bench pressed 225 pounds 20 times.
“I think I turned a lot of heads with my speed and athleticism,” Campanaro said. “I don’t think teams thought I would run that fast or jump that high. Campanaro is hoping to be drafted as high as the third round.
Campanaro caught a school-record 229 passes for the Demon Deacons and finished with 2,506 career yards and 14 touchdowns. As a junior, Campanaro had 79 catches for 763 yards and 14 touchdowns. As a senior, he caught 67 passes before breaking his collarbone. He was just a few weeks removed from starting running again when he was at the Senior Bowl.
The Ravens need to add a receiver, but they have more pressing needs to address in the first and second rounds. With Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown, Jacoby Jones and Steve Smith set to make the team, and promising second year receiver Aaron Mellette competing for a spot, a mid to late round WR could adapt to the NFL slowly.
“Number one, protect the football,” said Saxon about what his players are going to be hearing from him. “Number two, when you have opportunities to make plays, make plays, and (with that) you have to be smart enough to know when to take a chance. Natural ability is a big part of being a good running back in this league, but I also believe you have to be able to have some sort of awareness of what you’re doing with the football.”
Over the course of 14 seasons coaching, Saxon has come to understand the direct approach is the way to go. Saxon has worked with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams in Miami, with Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson in Kansas City, and with Adrian Peterson in Minnesota.
“I think the No. 1 thing is the information these guys are going to take with them from the classroom onto the field,” said Saxon. So, the job I’ve been charged with is I want to make sure when a guy goes onto the field and there is a play called he’s going to do his job very, very well.”
The Steelers have what looks to be their best group of RBs they’ve had for the better part of a decade. Saxon has a proven track record, and should get the most out of his two lead rushers in Bell and Blount. A strong running game will take pressure off of the passing game, which has had to shoulder the load for a few years now.