Bears draft positional analysis: RBs
April, 19, 2011
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com
Thomas Campbell/US PresswireMikel Leshoure may be the second-best every-down back in the draft behind Mark Ingram.Chicago Bears backup running back Chester Taylor took criticism in 2010 for what appeared to be a subpar season, statistically.
Averaging 2.4 yards per carry, Taylor scored three touchdowns last season and managed just 43 yards in his best performance of the season (Oct. 10 at Carolina) as a complement to starter Matt Forte, who in 2010 became the first player in franchise history to gain at least 1,400 yards from scrimmage in each of his first three seasons.
Still, Taylor's sparse production in 2010 likely won't trigger the team's brass next week to search for the running back's replacement in the NFL draft.
“We brought in Chester to be a complement to Matt, which he was,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “As Matt really took off, Chester was the perfect team player. Those two guys, first off, get along; they're friends. Chester accepted his role of being ready. Some games, we need him more than others. We tried to give him a role on some of the short yardage, some of those things. I know the numbers weren't there, but Matt's numbers were up. You're just looking for the running back position's numbers to go up, which they did.”
Here's a look at the top 20 prospects at running back, and what rounds they're projected to be selected:
The next 10: 11. Taiwan Jones, Eastern Washington, 6-0, 196; 12. Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh, 5-7, 193; 13. Jamie Harper, Clemson, 5-11, 233; 14. Roy Helu, Nebraska, 6-0, 219; 15. Alex Green, Hawaii, 6-0, 225; 16. Darren Evans, Virginia Tech, 6-0, 227; 17. Johnny White, North Carolina, 5-10, 209; 18. Bilal Powell, Louisville, 5-11, 207; 19. Stevan Ridley, LSU, 5-11, 225; 20. Derrick Locke, Kentucky, 5-8, 188; 18.
Position grade: B-
Analysis: The Bears likely won't be looking to add to their backfield in the draft considering they've already got Forte and Taylor, in addition to Harvey Unga, who was selected in the 2010 supplemental draft.
The Bears hope to sign Forte to an extension once a new collective bargaining agreement is in place, and the team indicates Taylor will continue his role in 2011 as the primary backup. The club is also optimistic about finding a role for Unga, who might have to carve a niche on special teams to stick.
Because of needs along the offensive and defensive lines as well as receiver and linebacker, the Bears probably won't actively pursue the running back position in the draft. But if a talented prospect falls into the club's lap late, it might be compelled to add competition to an already crowded backfield.