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News » If the Saints decide to take a running back with the 14th pick, there will be options


If the Saints decide to take a running back with the 14th pick, there will be options


If the Saints decide to take a running back with the 14th pick, there will be options
The nit-picking and intense scrutiny will continue right up to the moment a prospect is selected in this year's NFL draft; the more money to be invested, the deeper the probing.


For instance, oft-injured running back Chris "Beanie" Wells started 21 games at Ohio State. Some scouts question his durability and whether he knows the difference between pain and injury. Running back Knowshon Moreno started 19 games at Georgia. Some scouts wonder if he can be a bell-cow-type back in the pros.

And these players are considered to be the cr?me de la cr?me.

In the end, the good ultimately will outweigh the bad come judgment time, and each is expected to be taken in the middle tier of the first round. One could even land in New Orleans at No. 14 based on the projections of numerous draft analysts.

"Wells is a nice fit for the Saints after they let running back Deuce McAllister go in the offseason," said Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN. "He could be a perfect complement to Reggie Bush."

"With Deuce McAllister gone, the Saints need a big back who can handle the pounding between the tackles," reported The Sporting News. "Pierre Thomas can do some of that, but can't hold up in that role as a full-time player. Moreno or Wells could be ideal fits to complement Reggie Bush."

"If (Ohio State cornerback Malcolm) Jenkins gets past Green Bay at No. 9, the Saints secondary will benefit from having the top-rated cornerback fall its way," wrote Don Banks of si.com. "Wells is a strong candidate for this spot as well, but New Orleans' defensive needs should receive priority."

And so on.

There is some truth to their musings, despite an apparent need by Saints Coach Sean Payton to bolster a shaky defense. Payton certainly hasn't dismissed the notion of upgrading the running back position, taking every opportunity to fuel the speculation the past month or so.

Keep in mind, the average career for an NFL running back is relatively short -- three to four years -- and most coaches believe they can never have enough good running backs on their roster.

"To me, it's about having more than one back, and you've got to have two backs who have a little bit of difference," said Arizona Coach Ken Whisenhunt, who is looking for a running back in the draft after losing free agent J.J. Arrington to Denver in March. "One who is maybe an inside pounder and can get you those positive yards and one that can do some things in space for you. I don't know if there is one back that can carry the load, game in and game out, anymore."

Houston picks right behind the Saints and appears to be in the market for a running back to complement scatback Steve Slaton.

"If we can add another one to (Slaton), either somebody whose style is close to him or someone a little different, that would make us better and make sense," Texans Coach Gary Kubiak said. "The perfect complement is a bigger, more physical guy who's good in short-yardage and goal-line situations. On the other hand, we won't pass up a chance to find another one who's just dang good."

Moreno and Wells fit that description. Each decided to forgo remaining college eligibility to enter the draft, and although neither fulfilled his goals, both came close enough to make the jump.

"We made a run at the national championship two years in a row," Wells said. "A lot of guys came back to make that second run. We tried, and we came up short.

"It was a decision made by me and my family, and I think it was the best thing for me to do."

Wells' decision to bolt Ohio State also was prompted in part by an assortment of injuries that limited his playing time and caused him to pull himself from games. Plus, he was growing weary of hearing the critics question his toughness.

"I guess some people are going to question it, but I know myself, and I know what type of player I am, and I know what I can do," he said.

There are no such durability issues with Moreno, who is smaller than Wells (by 2 inches and about 20 pounds) but slightly faster.

When asked to compare himself to Wells, Moreno replied: "I think he is a great back. I don't think I'm better. I guess it will come down to just what a team needs."

Wells and Moreno are considered the best in what is a relatively thin running back class. Connecticut's Donald Brown and Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy are other potential day one picks (rounds one and two).

North Carolina State's Andre Brown, Iowa's Shonn Greene and Liberty's Rashad Jennings, among others, are viewed as early second-day picks (rounds three to seven). The Saints have two picks in the fourth round. If they pass on a running back at No. 14, they might consider upgrading that position at this point.

THURSDAY: Tight ends.

. . . . . . .

Brian Allee-Walsh can be reached at ballee-walsh@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3805.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 15, 2009

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