Looking at NFC North’s Top Running Backs

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Jahvid Best


The Lions blogger offered Best as his choice to represent the Lions.  The rookie runner out of Cal was selected with the Lions’ high second round pick in April’s draft.  Since he’s a rookie, let’s look at CBS Sports’ pre-draft analysis of Best:

"Inside: Lacks the size and strength to consistently be effective in this area, though he isn’t intimidated by the big bodies inside and is a threat to break off a big run due to his burst to and through the hole. Prefers to attack the gap and squirt through, but has learned to run with patience and will take advantage of cutback lanes. Outside: His most impressive area. Good speed to beat the linebacker to the edge and is dazzling in the open field. Rare lateral agility and balance to elude in tight quarters and when running at full speed in the open field. Very quick to accelerate out of line and has rare top-end speed to pull away. Good vision for the cutback. Legitimate start-stop-accelerate move to allow his pursuers to fly past him. Switches the ball to his outside arm when he gets into the open field. Breaking tackles: Spins and dances his way out of more tackles than his size would indicate. Keeps his feet moving after contact and flashes a decent stiff-arm to push free. Doesn’t have the leg drive, however, to consistently break NFL caliber tackles. Blocking: An area of concern due to his lack of bulk and strength. Supplies a marginal pop to the oncoming defender, but more often relies on the cut-block. Receiving: Soft, reliable hands out of the backfield. Has the burst out of his cuts to line up out wide, but was typically used on underneath dumpoffs, screens and an occasional wheel route. Tracks the ball and catches it cleanly. Can adjust his body to catch poorly thrown passes due to good body control and hand-eye coordination for the position. Intangibles: Has missed time due to a variety of ailments over his three years at Cal. Standout special teams player, earning first-team all-Pac-10 honors as a true freshman, as well as the J. Scott Duncan Award (Most Valuable Special Teams’ Player) by finishing second in the conference in kick return average (27.0) and posting 12 tackles and a fumble recovery as a gunner. Led the conference with 26.3 yards per kickoff return as a sophomore. Only used on one kickoff (in the opener against Maryland) in 2009."

I know that’s a lot of space to dedicate to a rookie runner (from the Lions no less), but since we haven’t seen much if any of his body of work, that’s what we have to go on.  If you pick Best, you’re going strictly on upside or you’re a Lions homer.