Class of '05
<-----Benson <----- Brown and Wiliams
There were 3 Running Backs selected in the Top-5 of the 2005 NFL draft, with 2 of them from the same school (Auburn). That is remarkable, most top-5 selections are either a QB or defense. So is this one of the best classes of runners ever? Not exactly. As I did with my previous article, I'll use a rating system to grade the draft pick, comparing his career production to what is expected of a Top-5 selection.
#2 Overall Miami Dolphins- Ronnie Brown, Auburn
Ronnie Brown's career hasn't been a total dissapointment, but surely hasn't gone as planned. He's run for 4,815 yards in 6 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, which averages out to about 800 yards per season. Brown went over the 1,000 yard mark in his 2006 sophmore season (1,008), and was on a career year in 2007 before tearing his ACL, forcing him to sit out the remaining 9 regular season games and some early offseason workouts.
Ronnie bounced back well in 2008, rushing for 916 yards and 10 touchdowns, adding 254 yards through the air. Brown was back on track, it seemed, until his 2009 season was ended by a foot injury. At this point, after 5 seasons of football it seemed Brown would never stay healthy and get over the hump, propelling himself to elite running back status. He once again failed to take the big step forward in 2010, posting a career-low 3.7 yards per carry running behind minimal blocking.
The Bottom Line: 800 yards per season doesn't meet expectations for a team if they draft you 2nd overall. But to Brown's credit, he hasn't received alot of blocking over his years in Miami and has been set back by unavoidable injuries. Brown's versatility (screen game, wildcat, even throwing sometimes as in the picture above) has made him valuable to have at times, but his lack of overall production running the ball is what really tells the story of his career.
The Grade: C
(Benson doesn't look happy being a Bear)
#4 overall Chicago Bears- Cedric Benson, Texas
Benson's career got off to a rough start, when he and the Bears couldnt agree on a contract, causing Benson to miss training camp. Missing all of training camp set Benson back both physically, and in the coaches minds. Thomas Jones was the Bears starting running back for 2005, with Benson his backup. As the second string back, Benson rushed for a measly 272 yards on 67 carries and no TDs through nine games, before his rookie season was ended by injury.
He could only muster 1,221 more yards the next 2 seasons with Chicago before being released following a drug related arrest. It was his second arrest of the year, and the Bears decided they had had enough. Benson was picked up by the Cincinati Bengals, who he has played for the past three seasons. He ran for a career high 747 yards in his debut season with the Bengals, appearing in 10 games. The next two seasons in Cincy for Benson were very different, though. He amassed over 1,100 yards in both seasons and had 14 total touchdowns. The only downside was that he lost 5 fumbles in 2010. Far too many.
The Bottom Line: This was an absolutely terrible way to spend a draft pick for Chicago. The Bears got 3 low-production seasons that were shadowed by a holdout, trash talk, and two arrests. However, when Benson was picked up by the Bengals, he came to life, rushing for about 3,000 yards and 15 touchdowns in three seasons while only taking in low salary. Had Benson not had an arrest and 5 fumbles lost in 2010, the Bengals would have gotten a million dollar deal picking up Benson.
The Grades: Bears F Bengals B Overall: C-
What's the Difference?
#5 Overall Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, Auburn
Carnell Williams probably got the nickname "Cadillac" from the way he ran with the football. He showed why he deserved that flashy name with a stellar rookie season. In Williams' initial campaign, he carried the ball 290 times for 1,178 yards and 6 touchdowns en route to a Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Things were looking up for Cadillac. Things were looking up for the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Unfortunatley for Williams and the Bucs, things just went downhill from there. His rushing numbers went down significantly in his sophmore season. Williams only ran for 798 yards and 1 touchdown. But the feeling around Tampa was that this was just sophmore blues, and that next season the Cadillac would be back. Cadillac only played in 10 games the next two seasons after tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee, a devastating injury.
Although he was told by doctors that he may never regain his full abilities, Williams kept with it, and in 2009 produced over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 7 total touchdowns. And then 2010 came along. He recieved 22 and 27 carries in his first two games of the season (for 75 and 51 yards), and then didn't take more than 11 carries in any game the rest of the season. Part of it was the emergence of LeGarrette Blount, but Blount didn't have his first good game until week 7. Williams was relatively effective catching the ball in '10, with 46 recs for 355 and a TD, but was ineffective on the ground and thus was a bad year for Cadillac.
The Bottom Line: Cadillac Williams bursted onto the NFL scene with a spectacular rookie season, but failed to match those numbers in any of his next 5 seasons in Tampa. Williams hasn't been the worst Top 5 pick running back ever, but hasn't come close to matching expectations for the #5 overall selection.
The Grade: D+
I hope reading this was worth your time.
Give me a Rec if you feel I deserve it.