Tomlinson still has upside left

Updated: July 13, 2010, 11:26 AM ET
By Eric Karabell

I was pleased to select New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson after the 10th round in a recent mock draft. Despite the fact I can't call any player taken outside the top 100 a particularly bad choice -- it's a rather late pick, after all, hard to judge as a bust -- the looks I got made it seem like I had to defend the choice. Hello, it's LT, Hall of Famer, touchdown maker! OK, he's on the wrong side of 30 and his prime skills appear long gone, plus second-year running back Shonn Greene is a popular choice to emerge, but I still view Tomlinson as a contributor for the Jets and fantasy owners.

Of course, I'm finding little company on my Tomlinson island, as ESPN Fantasy ranks him 41st at running back and 99th overall. Colleague Christopher Harris has Tomlinson at No. 127 overall and wrote, "The years have taken their toll. Tomlinson was a shadow of his former self in 2008, and much, much worse in 2009."

I can't argue those points, or how Tomlinson's touchdown rate has precipitously dropped, but I also see opportunity with a franchise that values the running game and has built an offensive line worthy of making it work. Plus, I think the touches -- via the ground and the air -- and the touchdown chances will be there.