Ball security affects five teams, backs

Updated: March 14, 2012, 3:06 PM ET
By Todd McShay

It has taken several years of evaluating running backs and talking to teams about their varying offensive schemes to narrow down a universal list of critical factors when evaluating backs. Here are the five position-specific traits I assess when breaking down running back prospects:

• Competitiveness (ball security is a key component here)
• Vision/patience
• Agility/acceleration
• Power/balance
• Passing game

Teams value certain skills differently when evaluating running backs. For instance, one team that employs a zone-blocking rushing attack views these as the five critical factors:

• Ability to make one cut and accelerate through a crease
• Willingness/toughness in pass protection
• Run with a naturally wide base
• Run behind pads, drive through contact
• Durability and ball security

However, ball security is key regardless of scheme, and the New England Patriots' running back situation is a perfect example.