Tuesday, April 1, 2008

McFadden Is NOT the #1 Running Back

by Jason Jones

Have you ever wondered why every picture or video clip has McFadden all by himself or running in the open field? The big question at this juncture of pre-draft thoughts is, "Do the top 10 projected picks really deserve to go that high"? Matt Ryan, Jake Long, Chris Long, etc...yes. Darren McFadden, not so much. I know that sounds outlandish, but the stats and game film do not lie. There are four RB's projected to be potential first-round picks. Due to his injury and subsequent surgery, we will leave Jonathan Stewart out of the conversation. Then compare McFadden vs. Felix Jones and then compare Rashard Mendenhall. The results may surprise you.

Felix Jones

133 rush attempts

1162 yards rushing

8.7 yards per carry

11 td's

16 receptions

176 yds

11.0 yds per reception

vs Troy-12 att, 129 yds, a long of 44 (10.8 avg)

vs Kentucky-12 att, 133 yds, long of 73 (11.1 avg)

vs N.Texas-7 att, 132 yds, long of 71 (18.9 avg)

vs Chattanooga-13 att, 141 yds, long of 59 (10.8 avg)

@ Mississippi-15 att, 101 yds, long of 38 (6.7 avg)

vs South Carolina, 13 att, 166 yds, long of 72 (12.8 avg)

long runs-(of 30 yards or more)44, 36, 73, 71, 59, 38, 72, 31

Darren McFadden

325 rush attempts

1830 yards rushing

5.6 yards per carry

21 td's

21 receptions

164 yards

7.8 yards per reception

vs Troy-24 att, 151 yards, a long of 25 (6.3 avg)

@ Alabama-33 att, 195 yards, a long of 23 (5.9 avg)

vs Kentucky-29 att, 173 yds, a long of 56 (6.0 avg)

vs N.Texas-19 att, 138 yds, a long of 51 (7.3 avg)

vs Chattanooga-25 att, 122 yds, a long of 21 (4.9 avg)

@ Mississippi-22 att, 110 yds, a long of 30 (5.0 avg)

vs South Carolina-34 att, 321 yds, a long of 80 (9.4 avg)

@ Tennessee-22 att, 117 yds, a long of 20 (5.3 avg)

@ LSU-32 att, 206 yds, a long of 73 (6.4 avg)

long runs-(of 30 yards or more)56, 51, 30, 80, 73

When you multiply Felix Jones' attempts by 2.45, they have roughly

the same attempts -- then by averaging things out...

Felix Jones (at 325 attempts)

325 rush attempts

2,846 yards rushing

8.7 yards per carry

27 td's

Darren McFadden (at 325 attempts)

325 rush attempts

1830 yards rushing

5.6 yards per carry

21 td's

Jones had 5 games averaging over 10 yards per carry

McFadden's best average was 9.4 vs S.Carolina

Jones had 8 long runs over 30 equaling 424 yards

McFadden had 5 long runs over 30 equaling 290 yards

All this means is that McFadden is not the second coming of RBs, especially in this draft. Felix Jones also has return abilities that McFadden just doesn't have. Everyone wants to believe that McFadden is great, elite, or perfect. If that is the case, then why do most people believe that Felix Jones is only a first-round pick if Dallas reaches for him? This is why scouting has gone by the wayside. Arkansas rushed (as a team) for almost 4,000 yards. McFadden is responsible for less than half of it while getting the vast majority of carries. Felix had 35% less yards than McFadden on 60% less carries. If statistical analysis serves over hype and word of mouth, Mendenhall should be the first RB taken and McFadden/F.Jones should both be late first round selections. As statistics are not the end-all be-all, look at on-the-field play. All we have been seeing is McFadden running wide and beating D-lineman and linebackers to the edge. A cutback here, a counter play there. What the television networks won't show you is the bread-and-butter of the NFL running game. What happens when the cutback isn't there or when the defense collapses the edge.?Darren McFadden running between the tackles probably ranks in the double digits of running backs in this draft class. Sure, if there is a hole to expose then McFadden will expose it. He is good in the second phase of the defense (open field), but really how often is that the case in the NFL. NFL defenses are too fast to allow a guy like McFadden to just run ragged. When he gets hit, he goes down. Almost instantly. He cannot bounce off of tacklers; he has little to no movement when the tackler is engaged. Felix Jones is much better in these areas. He tends to earn his yards more effectively. This is not to say, McFadden has no worth -- it's just not in the upper half of the first round.

That area belongs to Rashard Mendenhall.

As for the top:

Darren McFadden-6'1, 211lbs, 4.27 40, 33.5 vertical

Rashard Mendenhall-5'10, 225lbs, 4.37 40, 33.5 vertical

Anytime a guy runs a sub-4.3 40, he will generally get the top spot, especially if he has a high rushing total. McFadden rushed for 1830 yds (325 attempts). Mendenhall rushed for 1681 yds (262 att) and had twice the receiving yards. But the key to this is not the stats, even though they are extremely close and the average is in Mendenhall's favor. The difference is Mendenhall is a helluva task to take down, whether its in the open field or between the tackles. Highlight reels aside, Mendenhall is clearly a better NFL running back. He is bigger (3.2 pounds per inch) vs McFadden (2.7 pounds per inch). All things considered, Mendenhall is a better running back and deserves to be the first RB taken, somewhere in the top 10, while McFadden should go somewhere between 15-32. And wherever he goes, Felix Jones should be +/- 5-10 picks. NFL executives are getting caught up in the speed. In 2006, no RB in the draft ran under 4.4. But ask Chris Henry how his 4.3 speed translated in his rookie year. If LenDale White keeps screwing up, maybe we'll see something come of it. Henry, to some degree like McFadden, is a Combine phenom, but is not all that impressive running between the tackles. Don't let the speed fool you. Go back and look at the game film again. Darren McFadden without the 4.27 speed is just another testing phenom. He may evolve into a good running back, but not at the cost it will render if he goes in the top 6 (I have projected him to the Jets at #6). I hope this clears some of the air. I present this merely in the hopes that not everyone will simply take the so called "experts" words as Divine Mandate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For a moment I thought it said 'running black' not 'running back'.

Infer from that what you will.