Who has the best backup RB in division?

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
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The Oakland Raiders are considering upgrading their backup running back situation with free agent Cedric Benson.

It would be a good idea. I think Oakland needs to get better at that spot. Actually, I think most of the division is in less than great shape at backup running back.

I think Kansas City has the best backup running back situation with Peyton Hillis. He is a perfect complement for Jamaal Charles. Charles is a speed guy and Hillis is a power back. They both will get plenty of carries.

Denver has third-round pick Ronnie Hillman behind starter Willis McGahee and then there’s 2009 first-round pick Knowshon Moreno, who could potentially be cut this summer. Oakland needs Benson, I think, because Mike Goodson is fairly unproven and Taiwan Jones is a change-of-pace guy.

I am nervous about the Chargers’ running back situation now that Mike Tolbert has signed with Carolina. Ronnie Brown is nearing the end. Curtis Brinkley is interesting, but is he ready? Rookie Edwin Baker and fullback Le’Ron McClain are also in the mix.

I asked Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. what he thought of the backup running backs in the division. He has similar concerns that I do. Here is what he said:
I agree with you that Kansas City is far and away the best team for running back depth. Benson to Oakland makes sense. If/when Darren McFadden goes down, Benson would get a ton of carries. I can’t say I condone what San Diego has done at this position, considering Ryan Mathews’ injury history. It makes no sense to me. As for Denver, I don’t like Moreno, but I think Hillman can be a true No. 1 running back, making Willie McGahee a high quality No. 2.

I asked Williamson if he thinks Hillman can actually take over for McGahee this year and his answer was yes.

“I do,” Williamson said. “Hillman might not be a 300-carry type of guy in Year 1, but he doesn’t have to be. Also, Hillman is a better fit in the Colts/Manning stretch running game than McGahee.”

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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