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Green Zone League Articles

NFC West's Best: Backs
By Nic St. Marie
Special to gzl-football.com

It appears that no one knows which of the elite young QB's in the West is the clear franchise-starter. Or else, the whole division is set for 5-10 years. Your author tends to believe in the second theory, and that the West's domination or lack there of will not hinge on the QB position, but on the talent-level of the teams in the league, and the way it is deployed.

The rest of the look at the rosters will be a praise or indictment of the general managers in charge of each team. This is an awkward time to look at some of the roster, with free agency and the draft just upon us. But those will be dealt with as we reach them, and the overall assessment done as we approach the preseason with a fully loaded set of rosters.

In this installment, the backfield (excluding quarterback of course) will be looked at and rookies will be left out of this even if some are drafted during the crafting of this piece.

HB Chris Rainey 5'8" 180 lbs, 95 SPD, 49 STR, 61 AWR, 92 AGI, 95 ACC, 70 CTH, 71 CAR, 75 JMP, 64 BTK, 35 PBK, 83 INJ, 95 KR

FB Chris Gronkowski 6'2" 239 lbs, 81 SPD, 65 STR, 57 AWR, 72 AGI, 76 ACC, 72 CTH, 70 CAR, 64 BTK, 55 PBK, 61 RBK, 84 INJ

The 49ers chose to send Trent Richardson away and plummeted to the bottom of this list for now. They have a decent FB and a KR/scat-back in Rainey. An incomplete still puts the backfield at the bottom for now as they look to add a feature-back and a competent backup. Little Gronk could be improved on as well, as his limited athleticism may have contributed to holding Richardson back in the past couple years.

HB LaVonte Bell 6'0" 228 lbs, 95 SPD, 66 STR, 70 AWR, 92 AGI, 95 ACC, 74 CTH, 79 CAR, 88 BTK, 30 PBK, 90 INJ, 89 KR
HB DeMarco Murray 6'0" 213 lbs, 96 SPD, 61 STR, 61 AWR, 85 AGI, 90 ACC, 62 CTH, 87 CAR, 74 BTK, 41 PBK, 71 INJ
HB James Davis 5'11" 218 lbs, 93 SPD, 64 STR, 53 AWR, 83 AGI, 95 ACC, 59 CTH, 83 CAR, 70 BTK, 40 PBK

FB Tony Fiammetta 6'0" 245 lbs, 82 SPD, 80 STR, 55 AWR, 72 AGI, 75 ACC, 58 CTH, 73 CAR, 73 BTK, 54 PBK, 64 RBK, 95 INJ

The Rams lead back is younger than those in Seattle and Arizona, and arguably has the same or better production of late. But the Rams are ranked third in this article for having less depth and diversity in their rushing attack. Bell was a 1st round pick, a fast KR/scat-back type with the potential to be a LaDainian Tomlinson type of feature back at best. So far he has shown some flashes of it but has topped out thus far at 1476 total offensive (he kick returned his rookie year) yards and 11 TDs with 5 fumbles. He is still good for the long, breakout touchdown but the MVP type potential is slower to appear.

Behind him are a couple of long-speed backs, but the Rams have lacked a powerful chains-mover since trading away Payne. They could use a far faster FB to support getting Bell out into space, and a look at the OL later may yield some helpful clues as to what is holding Bell back.

On the positive side, Bell is only entering his third year, and the Rams may just give him what he needs this year to be great.

HB Beanie Wells 6'1" 237 lbs, 89 SPD, 80 STR, 89 AWR, 85 AGI, 86 ACC, 64 CTH, 84 CAR, 97 BTK, 40 PBK, 87 INJ
HB Jahvid Best 5'10" 199 lbs, 95 SPD, 55 STR, 68 AWR, 97 AGI, 94 ACC, 71 CTH, 81 CAR, 85 JMP, 75 BTK, 25 PBK, 84 INJ, 80 KR
HB Alex Green 6'0" 225 lbs, 90 SPD, 66 STR, 57 AWR, 87 AGI, 92 ACC, 71 CTH, 81 CAR, 72 CTK, 32 PBK, 80 INJ

FB Tyson Benson 6'4" 265 lbs, 61 SPD, 86 STR, 81 AWR, 68 AGI, 62 ACC, 65 CTH, 79 CAR, 74 BTK, 60 PBK, 69 RBK, 96 INJ

Cardinals are next only because Wells and Best are a little older than their mirror images on the Seahawks, and Wells production was at it's worst this past season. Wells is the type of powerful feature-back that many teams drool over (and the Seahawks traded a WR that was worth two 1sts for) and that frankly brings balance to an offense no matter how much they struggle. Wells makes a defense respect the power run game, but Best is a very complimentary lightning that can also start against a front 7 that is slow to get to the edge.

Green is a very safe 3rd back, with the right size and athleticism, while displaying good ball-security and hands. Benson is a fantastic FB for a power-rushing team, but on a more explosive offense like the one Arizona plays he might not be the best fit. And that may have showed in the YPC for Wells this season.

HB LeGarrette Blount 6'0" 251 lbs, 88 SPD, 81 STR, 84 AWR, 85 AGI, 88 ACC, 49 CTH, 92 CAR, 99 BTK, 28 PBK, 96 INJ
HB Kenjon Barner 5'11" 192 lbs, 96 SPD, 62 STR, 63 AWR, 89 AGI, 94 ACC, 67 CTH, 77 CAR, 73 BTK, 31 PBK, 97 INJ, 88 KR
HB Shaun Robinson 5'10" 210 lbs, 90 SPD, 76 STR, 57 AWR, 83 AGI, 88 ACC, 70 CTH, 78 CAR, 75 BTK, 37 PBK, 87 INJ
HB Jawan Jamison 5'7" 203 lbs, 88 SPD, 79 STR, 68 AWR, 91 AGI, 87 ACC, 66 CTH, 77 CAR, 68 BTK, 42 PBK, 84 INJ

FB Harvey Unga 6'0" 254 lbs, 85 SPD, 80 STR, 69 AWR, 85 AGI, 86 ACC, 75 CTH, 76 CAR, 84 BTK, 30 PBK, 55 RBK, 80 INJ
FB Kyler Reed 6'3" 230 lbs, 80 SPD, 66 STR, 51 AWR, 75 AGI, 82 ACC, 73 CTH, 62 CAR, 61 BTK, 52 PBK, 49 RBK, 90 INJ

This team carries a 4th HB and 2nd FB, you think they like to run the ball? Blount has a couple of years to display his power before he starts to lose steam in his legs. A big bruiser, LeGarrette also can go the distance and shows it from time to time. Kenjon Barner is a Best-type back, scatback with the ability to eat up open field quickly. This past season he also appears to have been playing WR some.

Robinson and Jamison are both going to hold onto the ball and pass block, while possessing feature-back athleticism but lacking feature-back size and tackle-breaking ability. Each is a good 3rd-back type. Unga is a power-back that has taken well to the FB transition. He isn't the best blocker, and on occasion his pass blocking gets Seattle into trouble, but Unga is the engine in this run game and opposing linebackers don't enjoy having to deal with him inside and out. Kyler Reed appears to be a converted TE that has good hands...and height. Not sure what he's doing here, but his 560k salary might have allowed him to hide out all this time.

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