View Full Version : Running Back Position Wide Open in Dove Valley

06-02-2008, 04:44 PM
With the release of Travis Henry, the starting running back position is now wide open for the Denver Broncos. Let's take an in-depth look at the current backs on the roster and break down each one.

Selvin Young- 5'11'' 207 pounds Age-24 NFL experience-1 YR

Positives- Last season Selvin proved that he can play in the NFL with an impressive 5.1 YPC average. He has quick feet, good acceleration, and finds the hole quickly. He lost only 1 fumble in 140 rushing attemps, and had 35 receptions out of the backfield. Word out of OTA's is that Selvin has gained about 15 pounds of muscle during the offseason.

Negatives- He has had a hard time staying of the field in both college and the NFL. Although he started 8 games, he had more than 20 carries in only 1 of those, and had less than 10 carries in 2 of those starts. In 140 rushing attempts and 35 receptions, he had only 1 TD. He has not shown that he can get the tough yards needed on 3rd and short situations. His blocking in the backfield leaves a lot to be desired.

Overall- Selvin should have the first crack at the starting spot. However, he'll have to prove that he's more than just a complimentary back. If he can stay healthy, improve his blocking, and break tackles to get those 'tough yards', he can be the Broncos next 1000 yard back.

Ryan Torain- 6'1" 222 pounds Age-21 NFL Experience-Rookie

Positives- Is a big, tough, physical between the tackles runner with good speed (4.5 40). His one cut and go mentality fits the Broncos ZBS scheme well. Rarely goes down on first contact, and has a knack for picking up the tough yardage. He's a good blocker with soft hands.

Negatives- Missed the final 7 games of his senior season with a foot injury. Despite his 4.5 40 time, he didn't show great breakaway speed in college. He has good balance, but tends to run with his pads high, which may cost him at the this level.

Overall- Shanahan has shown no fear in starting rookie RB's, so Torain should get every opportunity to win the starting position. In order to do that, he'll have to pick up the playbook quickly, stay healthy, and beat out Selvin Young. He may be the between the tackles runner that the Broncos have been lacking since the departure of Mike Anderson.

Michael Pittman- 6'0" 228 pounds Age-32 NFL Experience-11 Years

Positives- Pittman is a tough runner with a ton of NFL experience. He can be trusted to pick up a blitz in the backfield, and catch the ball coming out of it. He's a versatile player, with experience at RB, FB, and kick returner. He has a team first mentality and accepts whatever role is given to him.

Negatives- Jack of all trades, master of none is what comes to mind here. He has averaged a paultry 4.0 YPC in his career, and has never established himself as an elite type of back.

Overall- Pittman is a role type of player. He provides depth at FB, RB, and KR. He's a solid, experienced, backup who has very little chance of starting without a slew of injuries hitting camp again.

Andre Hall- 5'10" 212 pounds Age-25 NFL Experience-1 year

Positives- Good speed, runs low to the ground, and shows good instincts. Andre was singled out a few times last year as one of the surprises of training camp. In limited action last season, Andre averaged 4.9 YPC, and had 2 TD's, including a 62 yarder against Tenessee.

Negatives- Yet another back who had injury problems last season. In his one start last season, he averaged just 3.8 YPC against a Chicage defense that finished 24th in the NFL against the run. He has yet to prove that he can run well against top competition in both college and the pros.

Overall- With the returner duties full, Andre will need to stand out on special teams or have a camp similar to last season's to stick. The Travis Henry cut will help, but depending on how many backs Denver decides to keep, he may be the odd man out.

Anthony Alridge- 5'9" 175 pounds Age- 23 NFL Experience- Rookie

Positives- An absolutely electrifying runner. Great speed, quickness, and agility. Has that extra gear to blow by defenders, even when they have an angle on him. Runs tougher than his size may indicate. Can play either RB or WR. May make a dangerous KR in the NFL.

Negatives- Despite being used in the passing game at Houston, has just average hands. Poor blocker, and small size may keep him from being productive in the NFL.

Overall- He'll have to be outstanding in the preseason and training camp to have any shot of making the team. He might make his mark as a returner, but he'll have to take one or two back in the preseason to beat out Royal on punt returns. I don't see him making the team as just a second KO returner. He's a longshot to make the final roster, but a candidate for the practice squad.

Mike Bell- 6'0" 225 pounds Age- 25 NFL Experience- 2 years

Positives- Runs hard, gives 100% on every play. Plays with enthusiasm and is versatile enough to play FB. A decent between the tackles runner. Showed a nose for the endzone with 8 TD's in 157 carries in 2006.

Negatives- After getting the starting nod as a rookie in 2006, averaged just 3.1 YPC in his 3 starts, and 4.3 for his career. Lacks the breakaway speed you look for in a starting RB.

Overall- He somehow worked his way into Shanahan's doghouse last season and didn't see much of the field. He had a total of 6 carries with one resulting in a fumble. He's a longshot to make the team and may be gone in the first round of cuts.

Cecil Sapp- 5'11" 229 pounds Age- 29 NFL Experience- 5 years

Positives- Very versatile, experienced player. He will do whatever is asked of him, and contributes on special teams. Starting FB last season, but can switch to RB at any time. Has a respectable 4.6 YPC for his career, and can catch the ball well coming out of the backfield. He has not fumbled in the NFL.

Negatives- Sapp is an average blocker with average speed.

Overall- His contributions on special teams and versatility has kept him in the NFL, and may buy him yet another year in Denver. He'll have more competition this year with Hillis, Pittman, and Larsen all able to play the FB position. He'll have to stand out on special teams in the preseason to make the final roster, but this is a guy that just seems to always find a way to make it. He's a good locker room presence, plays wherever he's told to play without complaint, and is a good character guy.

Peyton Hillis- 6'1" 240 pounds Age-22 NFL Experience-Rookie

Positives- Big, strong and fast. A tough runner and decent blocker. Has the versatility to play RB, FB, TE, and kick returner. Very good hands. Unselfish team player. Good work ethic.

Negatives- A bit of a tweener. Will have to prove that he can lead block at this level.

Overall- While I expect him to be the starting FB this season, he will have to beat out Sapp. Worst case scenario, he should be a good special teamer. If he can win the starting FB position, he will bring a lot of versatility to the offense and open up a few more pages of Shanny's playbook. Some have hinted that he may be used at RB, but I don't see that happening unless the team is devastated by injuries in preseason at the RB position.

06-02-2008, 04:51 PM
Yes, call me crazy, but I'm predicting an all rookie backfield with Torain and Hillis starting. I think Young has a supplemental role with 5-10 carries a game.

06-02-2008, 05:08 PM
Yes, call me crazy, but I'm predicting an all rookie backfield with Torain and Hillis starting. I think Young has a supplemental role with 5-10 carries a game.

Nah...I think it's Young...Last year, before the last of the cuts after training camp...Shanahan was quoted as telling Selvin he needed to find an apt. in Denver and quit living in a hotel.

06-02-2008, 05:19 PM
Yes, call me crazy, but I'm predicting an all rookie backfield with Torain and Hillis starting. I think Young has a supplemental role with 5-10 carries a game.
Not sure if that'll be opening day, but it's certainly a possibility by mid-season

06-02-2008, 06:05 PM
Torain may not even play in 2008. I don't consider him at all an option.

06-02-2008, 06:30 PM
nice thread good job in your thought process.

Lets see where the chips will fall..

06-02-2008, 06:31 PM
I would be surprise to see three rookie(Clady, Torain and Hillis) protecting Cutler on pass plays.

06-02-2008, 08:17 PM
I think the starting job is Young's to lose...and if he's not careful, could lose it to the ex-Buc. Otherwise, he's a 1st/2nd down back, and then turn it over to Pittman for the tough yards/endzone runs.

It'll be interesting to see what Torrain brings, along with Aldridge.

Sapp should be shown the door. I haven't see anything out of him since his first day. He reminds me of a certain TE that never sees the field, but is kept around year in/out. It's time to start having the BEST 53 on the roster...and quit with the 3+yr experiments, imho.

Of course, my fullback, Hillis, (Griff II) will be fun to watch as he mows down the LB's.... ;)

06-02-2008, 08:30 PM
I hope Aldridge shows enough in camp that the coaches want to keep him around. I like the threat he is with the ball in his hands, he has that big play ability. We really don't have that on offense right now and we need it, bad.

06-02-2008, 09:16 PM
we're basically screwed and will have to pay mad OT to the trainers and physical therapists.

06-03-2008, 01:33 AM
Ron Dayne's still available.....just a suggestion :naughty:

06-03-2008, 05:08 AM
Not sure if that'll be opening day, but it's certainly a possibility by mid-season

I agree. I think that Shanahan is definitely wanting to give Selvin Young the chance to shine. If Selvin has injury problems, the role will go to Torain. If Torain then lights it up, he will get the starting running back role. I think it will all depend on how hell Selvin Young copes with injuries.

06-03-2008, 02:50 PM
Great Post! Well thought out and displayed.

Shanahan always plays mind games with his runningbacks. He knows and understands that in order for his offense to be successful he needs to have a running game and a runningback he can trust to get the job done. He knows that if his runningback isn't mentally tough then the back won't work out in his offense. It is Shanahan's way of weeding them out before they get into the games.

The fact Selvin Young is still confident and came out bigger and stronger goes to prove that Young is starting off the right way. He is gaining the respect of Shanahan and those players around him. If Young keeps it up he can and will be a force to be dealt with. You can also say that he deserved it 100% because he put in a lot of work to get to where he is. It is a true honor to play in the NFL and an even bigger honor to be the starting tailback in Denver. Shanahan makes you earn every single carry and every ounce of respect before he just hands you the job.

06-04-2008, 05:32 PM
I saw a u-tube on Torain's private workout posted by Beastlyskronk and was impressed enough to post it here. For a big man he has good feet and his Lis Franc injury must be healing very quickly.