BBD Staff Writer: Glenn Gifford
With an aging Fred Jackson and a pending C.J. Spiller contract negotiation on the horizon by 2016, the Buffalo Bills may targeting a running back in the middle rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft. Two running backs that could be options for the Bills in the middle rounds are former Penn State Nittany Lion turned USC Trojan Silas Redd, and Western Kentucky Hilltopper Antonio Andrews.
Both backs would represent a nice change to the slick and shifty running style of CJ Spiller. Redd and Andrews usually do their between the tackles, and they both have the ability to break tackles and get the tough extra yards. Let’s take a brief look at both players and why they could be Buffalo Bills considerations in the 2014 draft.
Redd enters his senior year at USC with some pretty impressive statistics from both Penn State and USC. He has racked up a total of 2,583 yards on 488 carries, which works out to an average of 5.3 yards per carry. He has a total of 18 touchdowns and has had 10 games in which he rushed for more than 100 yards.
While these are combined PSU and USC statistics, Redd’s USC statistics demonstrate the same level of production and consistency. Redd rushed for 905 yards last season on only 167 carries, an average of 5.4 yards per carry.
Redd is effective out of the backfield as a receiver as well. He has caught a total of 22 passes in his three-year college career for a total of 180 yards, an average of 8.2 yards per catch. His USC receiving numbers last year were his best, as he tallied 9 receptions for 130 yards, an average of 12.6 yards per reception.
A brief examination of Redd’s highlights from last year demonstrates his ability to “pound the rock” between the tackles. His ability to get yards after initial contact is particularly impressive. Of particular note, the plays between :55 and 2:30 demonstrate his ability in the trenches.
Listed at 5’10″ and 200 pounds by USC’s official athletics website, Redd has the frame of an NFL running back. He has good speed and could be clocked anywhere between 4.37-4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash according to NFLDraftScout.com.
Redd has been named to both the Doak Walker Award and Walter Camp Award watch lists for 2013. He is seen as a late second- to third-round pick.
Redd’s status will depend on the type of year he has this year, but his stock is unlikely to rise much considering the decreasing importance of the running back position over the last few years. He could be a good value selection on Day 3.
Do not make the mistake of judging Andrews based on the fact that he played at Western Kentucky University. Antonio Andrews is a legitimate NFL running back who put up great statistics in 2012, and will be drafted in 2014.
Andrews led Western Kentucky in all-purpose yards last season with a whopping one-year total of 3,161 yards, the second-highest single-season total in NCAA history behind 1988 Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders. That total included 1,728 rushing yards, eighth-most in the NCAA last season. He was named the Hilltoppers’ team MVP.
Andrews was “Mr. Everything” for WKU last season, returning kicks and punts, rushing the ball and catching passes. He will have difficulty reproducing those numbers in 2013 as teams will be game planning specifically to stop him, but his accomplishments as a junior have resulted in several preseason honors heading into the 2013 season. Like Silas Redd, he was named to the Walter Camp and Doak Walker watch lists, along with the Paul Hornung Award watch list and the 2013 preseason all-Sun Belt Team.
An examination of Andrews’ highlights reveals a similar running style to Redd. Andrews looks more compact, although he is listed at a larger size (6′, 211 pounds). He has a Ray Rice look to him.
Andrews can deliver punishing hits and looks to be difficult to tackle. Like Redd, he does well between the tackles and appears to be a little more versatile in the passing game. While his numbers are incredible, it is important to take into account the talent level that he does play against.
NFLDraftScout.com has a 4th-5th round grade on Andrews. If he is available then and the Bills have addressed other more glaring needs, he would be a great selection to learn under CJ Spiller.
Andrews has an interesting blend of athleticism, speed and talent, and he appears to use his compact frame to his advantage. Not to harp on his frame, but he does not appear to be as large as his listed weight — if he is 212 pounds, 80% of it is from the waist down!
Buffalo may be the perfect landing spot for a mid-round running back next year. An aging Fred Jackson has seemed to mentor and pass the running back torch to emerging superstar C.J. Spiller. Jackson is signed with the Bills through 2014, but could be nearing the end of his career. When that happens, Buffalo will need to provide a backup to Spiller with more significant upside than journeyman Tashard Choice.
Redd and Andrews are both running backs with the potential to work their way into a starting role over time. Both are tough between-the-tackles runners who work hard for every yard and do well after initial contact. Both would represent excellent Day 3 value at a position that should be addressed in some capacity.
Buffalo has other needs before running back and if Buffalo were to draft a running back, it would likely be somewhere during Day 3. What possible sleepers at the running back position should the Bills be watching? Redd and Andrews are two possibilities.