He went 12th overall in the 2009 draft, and in Josh McDaniels’ eyes, the former Georgia Bulldog was supposed to resurrect the Denver Broncos running game. In John Fox’s eyes, however, that may not be the case.
According to Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post, the Broncos may be use Knowshon Moreno as primarily a third down back. So much for draft position determining how much playing time an NFL player gets these days (or how many chances he has to prove himself for that matter).
The NFL is more physical than ever, and it’s unusual for team to have a just one workhorse running back. Injuries pile up and careers shorten. Moreno has already dealt with his fair share of injuries most notably in the offseason which is the time for players to improve for the next year. He’s missed just three games in his two year career which isn’t a lot, but those injuries have kept him from developing in the offseason. He missed most of training camp last year after injuring his hamstring on the first day of camp.
Moreno’s production improved last season after averaging 4.3 yards per carry (up from 3.8), he had nine more receptions than his rookie year, and he cut his fumbles in half. Who knows what would have happened if Moreno had more time in camp and additional help in the backfield.
So where does that leave the Broncos’ backfield right now?
Lance Ball was the team’s third leading rusher behind Moreno and Tim Tebow, but he carried the ball just 41 times for a 3.9 yard per carry average. Correll Buckhalter averaged just 2.5 yards per carry last season in 15 games. As a whole, the Broncos averaged under 100 rushing yards per game and they were ranked 4th in fumbles. Based on last year’s output (or lack thereof), the Broncos need to look elsewhere for backfield production to compliment Moreno.
LenDale White is a free agent that could vie for some significant playing time in short yardage and goal line situations. He missed the entire 2010 season after tearing his Achilles’ tendon in a preseason game in September.
Let’s tap into the free agent market to see who the Broncos could bring aboard.
Willie Parker - Was cut by the Redskins prior to the start of the 2010 season, but could bring leadership to the backfield.
Jerome Harrison - Backed up Peyton Hillis in four games last year, but in 2009, averaged 61.6 yards per game for the Browns.
Larry Johnson - Another short yardage, goal line situation guy.
Clinton Portis - Could a return to Denver be a fairytale ending to his career? Injuries have also mounted for this back.
Leon Washington - Known more for his electric returns than his ability to get out of the backfield.
Brian Westbrook - Another older back that would bring leadership and a good set of receiving hands, but his career is winding down.
Ricky Williams - A durable back that has averaged over 4.0 yards per carry in the past three seasons. Would be the cheap option for the Broncos, but character is always a question.
Darren Sproles - He’s torched the Broncos a lot and he brings energy to running the ball, catching the ball, and kick returns.
Tim Hightower - Good production and gets into the endzone when the paint is near, but fumbles are a concern.
Cedric Benson - With a good offensive line, Benson can thrive. He’s experienced, but the downside is his body is too.
Ronnie Brown - Has a history with injuries, but would be a nice backup to Moreno.
Michael Bush - Taking Bush away from the Raiders would be win No. 1. His production and ease with which he fits into a multiple back system would be win No. 2.
Mike Tolbert - Another AFC West foe that is accustomed to working in a multi-back system. Solid receiving back and had 11 touchdowns last season.
Ahmad Bradshaw - A young energetic back that averaged 77 yards per game last season. Fumbling problems should get better with experience.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis - This is not a plea for more Patriots to come to Denver. It’s a plea to bring in a powerful back that runs downfield. Oh and he averaged 63.0 yards per game last season.
Joseph Addai - Knows intricate offenses and can protect the QB, but he’s injury prone.
DeAngelo Williams - This guy is ranked high on everyone’s list and as one of John Fox’s former pupils, don’t be surprised is DeAngelo comes to Denver. In 2008 and 2009, averaged 95 and 86 yards per game respectively. Only played in 6 games last season, but still averaged 60.2 yards per game.
My vote is in. Make a hard push for either DeAngelo Williams or BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Either of these guys would be an asset to the organization and bring Moreno’s game to another level.
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