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Think McFadden is a can't-miss NFL prospect? Think again


atljbo
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Posted: January 10, 2008

By:Brian Baldinger

I hate to burst the bubble of Darren McFadden and all the draftniks who think he's the second coming of Adrian Peterson, but he isn't. Honestly, you shouldn't even use both names in the same sentence.

Yes, McFadden ran for a ton of yards at Arkansas and was a two-time Heisman Trophy runnerup. But I've watched him on film and up close in the Cotton Bowl, and I've seen no special qualities that will make him an exceptional running back.

McFadden has breakaway speed, I'll give him that. And he's fearless putting hits on defenders. But that's part of his problem -- he initiates contact. Unless you're built like Earl Campbell -- a mountain of a man whose career was nevertheless shortened to eight seasons because of injuries -- you won't last as a running back in the NFL by seeking contact.

A running back's most important quality is elusiveness. Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton -- all the great ones had it. So do current stars such as Peterson and LaDainian Tomlinson. Their methods differed, but these backs had the key to turning a 2-yard gain into a 22-yard gain -- and to surviving a brutal profession. They knew how to make tacklers miss. McFadden doesn't.

He also lacks the vision that is critical to finding open field. That's why he initiates contact -- he can't see the daylight to run to. He's a classic I-formation back who needs a fullback to lead the way. If the fullback gets caught in traffic, McFadden runs right up his back, rarely making the cut that would allow him to gain more yards.

I do believe an Arkansas running back should go in the first round of the draft. That would be Felix Jones, who, like McFadden, is a junior who is expected to declare for the draft. With his vision, moves and speed, Jones will be a better pro than McFadden.

When the Saints played at Chicago in Week 17, Pierre Thomas of New Orleans made his first NFL start. Thomas was an undrafted rookie out of Illinois, but you couldn't tell by watching him. He showed nifty moves, great vision and balance, power up the middle, soft hands and the ability to break tackles. He ran for 105 yards on 20 carries and caught 12 passes for another 121 yards. Reggie Bush has never had an NFL game like that.

Fact is, I'd take Thomas over McFadden, straight up. In a heartbeat.

Brian Baldinger, an offensive lineman for 12 NFL seasons, can be heard on Sporting News Radio and seen on Fox Sports. Listen online at http://radio.sportingnews.com.

i agree...i feel no way in the world you should spend a top 5 pick on a running back...especially is this draft

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Yeah, because Earl Campbell was the only successful powerback to make it in the NFL, and we could never hope for Darren McFadden to improve his vision. Obviously his stats are just inflated because he's so fast and strong, it's not like that means he has the real talent to make it in the NFL. Seriously, I've met people capable of more logical opinions with Down's Syndrome.

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I feel McFadden will be a good player...but i feel like Jonathan Stewart and Rashard Mendenhall will be equally or a better pro then McFadden.....i feel Rashard Mendenhall is the best all around back in this draft...(Marshall Faulk type)

but yea...i feel you can get a good rb in free agency or in the second and third round

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atljbo (1/10/2008)
I feel McFadden will be a good player...but i feel like Jonathan Stewart and Rashard Mendenhall will be equally or a better pro then McFadden.....i feel Rashard Mendenhall is the best all around back in this draft...(Marshall Faulk type)

but yea...i feel you can get a good rb in free agency or in the second and third round

I would hope so, seeing as how Steward and Mendenhall are not secrets being hidden on his message board and in all likelihood both will be taken top 20.

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So he's big, strong, fast and physical...but the problem is he isn't a scatback....Baldinger makes him sound likes he's some big stiff.....Dmac explodes through the LOS, breaks tackles, and has breakaway speed.

How do you run for that many yards, and start over Felix Jones, if you aren't a special player.....Arky has good lineman and everything, but they aren't exactly 1st round studs, either, just a solid group...and everyone keys on McFadden.

Didn't Petersen initiate contact in college....didn't Ronnie Brown? Aren't both of those franchise backs?

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swiftkick (1/10/2008)
McFadden will be a top 5 running back for the next 10 years..

Brian Balldinger is one of the worst analysts around ..

regardless if we draft McFadden or not the kid is going to be a star

Thank you. People should think if you dont want to draft the kid you still dont call him a bust when you and the world know hes going to be good.

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jidady (1/10/2008)
"But that's part of his problem -- he initiates contact."

I thought his problem is that he's a speed back who never demonstrates any inclination to break tackles. Now, he's too much of a fearless power back.

That's Baldie for ya. Two completely different opinions about the same player.:unsure: Just to make sure he can go back and say "see, told you so."

I hope DMC is the ORY next season, just to shut him up. By the way....I thought O-Linemen were supposed to be smart.:D

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lol, This is the reason the falcons never really been a superbowl contender. lol Falcons mannagement uses the same worped thinking as the fans that think we should just let DMac go to the team drafting behind us. DMac is a cant miss nfl prospect, oh but this is the falcons.

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I think Baldy is right. He will score for you if nobody

is there to tackle him. That was his college highlight.

If he has moves he didn't have to show them. Plus,

his legs are no bigger than Norwood's which in my

opinion is not a bad thing. You guys wanting contact

should be looking at a guy like Mendenhall. He has

powerful legs.

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After reading the OP's post and then seeing reports that McFadden was handcuffed, and got into trouble for a fight earlier in his career, I'm not sure if I would want to pick him that high in the draft.

I'd say if we get the 3rd pick, trade down to another top ten pick and get the best available QB. Then use the extra pick to get back into the 1st round and get a good RB. We can get all the OL with our remaining 2nd and 3rd picks and through FA

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hopefan22 (1/10/2008)
I have been saying that Jones is the better of the 2 backs.. Im glad someone else sees this. Trade down for Jones.

You'd think the coaches at Arky would have realized that after seeing them everyday in practice and on film.....but nope, McFadden was the workhorse, and the guy they rode.

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You've got to be kidding me.

So Baldie bases his opinion off of one game. A bad game for McFadden where he still amassed 100 yards and a TD mind you.

He initiates contact too much? What a joke. The reason why he's more durable than AP is because he doesn't try to bulldoze someone on every single play, he actually tries to elude them.

Guy rushed for 1000+ yards 3 straight seasons in the SEC without any semblance of a passing game around him. 2-time Doak Walker award winner and Heisman runner up.

As long as he doesn't pull a Ricky Williams with off the field habits I say he's going to be pretty freaking good.

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Richard Nixon (1/10/2008)
hopefan22 (1/10/2008)
I have been saying that Jones is the better of the 2 backs.. Im glad someone else sees this. Trade down for Jones.

McFadden looked pretty alright against South Carolina, huh?:w00t:

Arkansas Rushing

-------------- CAR YDS AVG TD LG

D. McFadden 34 321 9.4 1 80

F. Jones 13 166 12.8 3 72

Jones still had more yards per carry and more TDs in that game HUH? :w00t:

check your stats

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hopefan22 (1/10/2008)
Richard Nixon (1/10/2008)
hopefan22 (1/10/2008)
I have been saying that Jones is the better of the 2 backs.. Im glad someone else sees this. Trade down for Jones.

McFadden looked pretty alright against South Carolina, huh?:w00t:

Arkansas Rushing

-------------- CAR YDS AVG TD LG

D. McFadden 34 321 9.4 1 80

F. Jones 13 166 12.8 3 72

Jones still had more yards per carry and more TDs in that game HUH? :w00t:

check your stats

I know you didn't just compare 160 yds to 320yds.:hehe:

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