- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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They drafted Lache Seastrunk in the sixth round hoping he could become that guy. He doesn't need to be that player in 2014, not with Roy Helu still on the roster. But Helu is a free agent after this season, so Seastrunk -- if he shows he can handle this role -- could become his eventual replacement.
What I liked: His acceleration and ability to change directions and swerve without losing speed. Made a lot of "wow" runs thanks to this ability -- sometimes only for a few yards. Was at his best when hitting the hole with patience, letting a defender commit to a side and then bursting the other way. Shows excellent balance and body lean. Won't break tackles, but can make defenders miss with his feet. Was good at setting up defenders, getting them to lean one way and cutting back -- but could do it more consistently. When he does, his ability to accelerate is enhanced. On occasion, was able to burrow forward in short-yardage or goal-line situations. While some have questioned his power, there were examples to show good leg strength. Once had a guy try to drag him down by the pads; Seastrunk was almost bent over backwards yet righted himself and gained several more yards. Another time I paused the frame because it looked like he was about to sit down with defenders holding onto him and another about to hit him, yet he still gained three more yards. Capable of being held down for a while and then having an explosive run. Works well when an offense can spread the field. Sometimes in space, defenders look like a batter in baseball trying to hit a knuckleball. Had five touchdown runs of 68 yards or longer.
What I didn't: Seastrunk likes to bounce runs outside quite a bit. At times he was able to cut it up and take what was available. But oftentimes Seastrunk tried to hit a homer and it would occasionally cost him -- though it clearly worked to Baylor's benefit as well. He'll have to learn to run straight ahead better. He has good speed -- a 4.51 in the 40 at the combine -- but he'll be facing faster defenders and bouncing all the time won't be beneficial. Keep in mind, Sproles' 40 time at the combine was a 4.47, so it's not a huge difference. Seastrunk is inexperienced as a pass catcher -- just because he caught the ball at a pro day against no defenders doesn't mean he can do it in games. Seastrunk will have to prove he can. He was OK at best in pass protection, though he didn't do it with a lot of verve -- and certainly without the violence of a Clinton Portis or Tim Hightower. Did not always like his recognition and ability to help others in protection. Did not have the same issues as Chris Thompson in terms of durability in college, but it also was a knock against him.
Summary: Seastrunk, a sixth-round pick, would have gone higher if not for questions/concerns about catching the ball. Or if he had done it more in college (Baylor does not throw to its backs). To be a good third-down back you also need to pass protect and this will take time. Seastrunk will need to adjust to facing consistently fast defenders, knowing when he can bounce and when he can't. What he can't become is a guy who loses a lot of yards while trying to turn every run into a long one. But if he does, then he has a good shot to help and will be fun to watch as a different dimension off the bench.
1dJohn Keim and Adam Caplan