Updated Feb 19, 2013 - 2:26 pm
NFL Draft: Cardinals' day three RB options
First I want to say, it's not the fans' fault, it's because of people like me, guys who write about the draft, analyze picks, players, and yet come late April we haven't talked about guys that could and should be available on day three of the NFL Draft.
Talking about Eric Fisher, Chance Warmack, Barkevious Mingo and Luke Joeckel week after week doesn't give you information on a guy like David Carter, who has been a good rotational player in Arizona, and who most of us (myself included) knew little about when he was drafted in 2011.
My goal over the next 67 days is to provide the reader with information about these types of players so when April 27 rolls around (rounds 4-7 for those wondering) and we hear the names called, we don't have to run to Google.
This week we'll take a look at three running backs that could hear their name called on day three -- all of whom could be options in Arizona.
Dennis Johnson, Arkansas - 5-9, 213 lbs
While Johnson was at Arkansas all he did was consistently produce, even though he was being overshadowed by bigger-name players.
He never carried the ball more than 137 times in a season and he only has 345 total carries in his career. Compare that to Wisconsin's Montee Ball who had 356 carries in the 2012 season alone.
Johnson is a compact, strong, yet light on his feet runner. He moves well in the hole, at the line of scrimmage and knows how to set up and follow his blocks, then use his exceptional burst to get to and through the hole.
What makes Johnson such a well-rounded back and one that could be a strong fit with the Cardinals, is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and block in the passing game.
Johnson has to clean up his ball security issues. In his minute number of carries he has lost 14 fumbles in his career, and he doesn't possess elite long speed.
Robbie Rouse, Fresno St- 5-6, 190 lbs
Rouse runs hard, keeps his shoulders square to the line at all times and knows how to use his blockers, find a crease -- no matter how small -- and get through it.
He is excellent in space where he can consistently make the first man miss and pick up extra yards.
Rouse even spent time working out of the slot, where he displayed very good hands, a strong feel for route running and would be excellent in the screen game.
Despite his size, he knows how to churn his legs and fall forward to gain that extra two to three yards and is never shy of contact.
No matter how tough or hard-nosed a runner Rouse is, there are still concerns about his size and whether he can stay healthy when asked to carry the load.
He also lacks a special burst, which is surprising for a player of his size.
Rouse could be a nice pairing with the backs the Cardinals already have, because despite his size, he is a between the tackles type runner that can pick up the extra yardage.
George Winn, Cincinnati - 5-11, 220 lbs
Winn is another compact, between the tackles runner who knows how to use his blockers to find creases in the defense and get through the hole.
Runs low and with a purpose -- he can break through arm tackles of defensive lineman and isn't afraid to take on linebackers or defensive backs one-on-one in space.
Doesn't show the most wiggle and isn't an overly creative runner, but he'll get you the yards that are there and then add to them with his power at the end.
Needs to show he can run more routes if he wants to be an every down back at the next level, but that isn't his fault as he wasn't used in the passing game much outside of taking on blockers.
Where Winn is going to succeed is the fact he was an excellent special teams contributor in college. As a player that will likely have to fight for carries, he will always have a roster spot because of his ability to play special teams so well.
While I don't see the Cardinals as a team needing a front line running back, I believe the players they have on their roster can be strong contributors once the offensive line is fixed, adding depth at a position like running back is never a bad idea.
These three are all players that can come in and compete for playing time for the Cardinals, provide depth, and maybe, just maybe more, but won't cost an early round pick at a luxury position.
Seth Cox/The Sports Headquarters, Editor-in-chief of The Sports Headquarters
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