Thursday, 29 January 2009

The second coming of LT?

Chris Steuber at has written an interesting article comparing LaDainian Tomlinson and Knowshon Moreno (RB, Georgia). The article itself suggests the Chargers may draft Moreno to replace Tomlinson and Steuber suggests that the Bulldogs runner has the potential "to be the next LT". You have to ask the question, if Moreno is truly that talented does he warrant consideration in the top 10?

In Steuber's conclusion he admits it's an unfair comparison but that "when you watch footage of Tomlinson at TCU and Moreno at Georgia, you can’t help but compare the two." Since appointing Greg Knapp as offensive coordinator the Seahawks have made a point of saying that the run game will gain a new emphasis. Would a back like Moreno give the Seahawks the offensive playmaker they are lacking?

Knowshon is an undoubtedly talented individual. He is a strong runner, receiver and blocker but lacks elite breakaway speed. Some have also questioned his size and whether he can be an every down back in the NFL. However, he does play with a great deal of commitment and clearly loves the game of football. It might be a reach taking Moreno in the top five, but stranger things have happened. Comparisons to Tomlinson will do no harm to his reputation even if they are a little ambitious.

For highlights of Moreno's 2008 season, click here: part 1 part 2


Anonymous said...

There is a nagging part of me that really wants to draft Knowshon Moreno. Especially since we are very likely going to switch to a team built to run the ball as a priority. Our current running backs do not inspire confidence in me, and I fear that our new coaches will try to work with "what they know" dispite not having the players to do that. If they were losing, they would call that "growing pains", and continue until they did get the players to run their style of football.

Misfit said...

I think Mendenhall and Stewart of last year's draft, speaking of first round rated talents, are each better than Moreno. How do you justify a high first round RB w/out breakaway speed?

But that's not really my point. Quality RBs can be found in later rounds and therefore are a much lower cost for a position that often has a shorter NFL shelf-life than WR, QB, or OL.

I just don't know if we have Mendenhall, Stewart, CJ4.24 (Chris Johnson) in this year's first round.

It might be more wise to target players in later rounds like this year's version of Slaton, Forte, or even Choice, though only Slaton has the breakaway threat we need of that group. I was hoping for a CJ Spiller-type to add the dynamic explosiveness to our backfield. We have 'decently fast' and 'definitely slow' in Jones and Duckett. Forsett is not really any faster than Jones. Therefore, adding a player like LeSean McCoy would be great in the second round. There may be others to target.

A lot will depend on combine and pro-days to sort it all out. If Moreno runs really well and performs at the combine, maybe he justifies a first round selection. Though adding first round RB talent is exciting (I was hoping for Stewart last year), I'm not yet convinced of this years crop as far as top-end talent. Certainly not sold on a RB, yet, at #4 overall.

Rob Staton said...

Hi Misfit, thanks for your input into the debate. I think Moreno is a really interesting prospect because as you say, he hasn't got the breakaway speed. He's also a 'small' 5'11". But as the article shows, the size and speed equivalents between LT2 and Moreno are quite similar. It doesn't mean that the two are quite as comparable as the article perhaps suggests (you only have to look at LT2's stats at college to see a wide difference) but it does mean that despite Moreno's physical restrictions he can be a force in the NFL.

And if you do look passed his weaknesses you find a really explosive prospect. I don't think I've seen a running back perform a cut like Moreno. His vision is absolutely brilliant and he finds holes to run into, shows perfect patience. But unlike some other backs who possess that skill, he doesn't give up on runs and leaves everything on the field. Some would say his aggressive style is a flaw and leaves him open to injury, others would admire his determination to finish a run by hurdling a defender or pushing for another two yards.

But despite his aggressive nature, his injury record is non existent. Is it luck? I think he's just naturally very athletic and able to take hits. He hasn't got too many miles on the clock, maybe that's more of an issue later on his career. Everyone knows Tim Ruskell values character, well Knowshon is an infectious personality both on and off the field. His energy has to be seen to be believed and he was a true leaders for Georgia.

I've read some reports that rate him higher than Adrian Peterson coming out of college, of course that was comparing both players before they reached the NFL - clearly Peterson has gone on to be an elite player since then. I have to be honest though, I'm really high on Moreno. I got the chance to watch some film of Georgia in my research to try to be a bit more learned about the draft for the blog, and Moreno simply impressed me so much. I think he's being really under rated and if he falls out of the top 10, someone will be getting a steal.

Is he a realistic prospect for the Seahawks with the fourth pick? Probably not, he isn't getting mentioned as a top five pick and as you say, history has shown that backs can be found later and really need to be used until the miles run out and then move on. But I've had him down as a wildcard for the Hawks from day one - and although I think it's unlikely at this early stage that he ends up at Qwest Field, I wouldn't rule it out either. Tim Ruskell is always willing to suprise on draft day. And who knows? If the Rams took Crabtree and Chiefs took Curry, a team may be willing to trade up after all with all the tackles still on the board. If the Hawks drop down even a handful of places, Moreno becomes a more realistic option.

Misfit said...

I always appreciate when the blog author is responsive. You provided a nice case for Moreno. To be clear, I would love if we drafted him. I was very excited when we drafted Shaun Alexander coming out of Alabama. Speed isn't everything, as they say. Moreno does look to be a complete back, and I'm impressed with him. At #4 it's probably a reach. You're right in that LT has some monster stats coming out of college and that's probably what got him plucked from a small school so early in that draft. If you look at a guy like Forte, he has a very similar skill-set to Moreno (lacks elite speed, burst, etc. but great in the passing game, vision, and an every-down player) and he was drafted in the 2nd round (44th overall). You mention vision, hands, the ability to finish runs as some qualities that Moreno has. We would have to be very sure similar talent wasn't available in the later rounds to draft Moreno ourselves in round one. I just don't know if Moreno is clearly a top-10 RB talent. If he is and we draft him, I'll be thrilled. My speculation is that if we add a RB in this draft, we'll be looking for this year's version of Steve Slaton or Matt Forte after round one, while utilizing our 1st in another area. I'd love the surprise, though, and I trust our front office that if they drafted Moreno in the first, they would know what they were getting.

I would be thrilled to get McCoy in the 2nd.

Rob Staton said...

I completely agree Misfit. I don't expect us to draft Moreno in the first round but if we did I wouldn't complain. It'd be an interesting suprise and although some would question it, I think most would be intrigued to see this guy on the field.

However, you make a very valid point about getting a running back later, especially drafting so high in the second or third round. If you wanted a back this year, you could try to find a servicable guy later on who is cheaper. Moreno would have to be 'can't miss' to go that early. He's good... but is he that good?

The team has a great chance to draft someone who can be a franchise player. That could be simply a staple guy on the team for 10 years+. The Seahawks may even be lucky enough to draft a franchise 'changer', someone who has such an impact and becomes an elite player at his position. That's why it's so important to get this pick right and it doesn't necessarilly mean going for what is a consensus 'safe' selection. The above scenario's are 'best case scenario's' and is what you hope to get with any high draft pick - picking early just gives you an edge. It's going to be really interesting to see which direction the Seahawks go.

Bruce M. said...

He may lack elite speed, but he does NOT lack a burst, from the film I just saw. Clearly more explosive in and out of his cuts than Forte, to my eye, and his vision is at least as good.

He would need to "grow into his body" a bit more to be an every down back in the NFL, from what I see. But then again, the dude has no injury record either, as Rob points out...

If we traded back to the middle of the first or lower, he'd be high on my list.

Rob Staton said...

I think it'd be tough to significantly trade down from the fourth pick but a more realistic situation would be a team also in the top ten trying to get ahead of another team to take a certain prospect. As much as Moreno might be a reach at four, just by moving down even a handful of picks I think you are getting sound value. It really depends who has gone in the first three picks and what the Seahawks are thinking. They'd have to be really keen on Moreno to make such a move and likewise not so keen on the other prospects touted in the top few picks, such as the group of offensive tackles.

Kyle said...

IMO, Moreno is a 4.45 guy.

I didn't scout LT in college, but LT in the pros was quite fast. I don't think Moreno has that speed, but who knows if he can put it on. One thing that stood out to me was how tightly built Moreno is... perhaps that means he can add weight without it hurting his frame?

IMO, he's a 250 carry a year guy, not a 350 carry guy. He just seems too small to get the ball that often. But if he has growth potential, that could change things a lot. He is my favorite player in the draft, even if I don't think he's worth a top-10 pick (just my bias against RBs).

Kyle said...

Oh, one more thing... Moreno is twice the runner Mendenhall was. Mendenhall had more burst (though, Mendenhall's 4.49 time was nothing special. A lot of his running away was from slower competition than Moreno faces) and more power, But Moreno breaks more tackles (Mendenhall dished out hits, then fell down), is a better blocker and reciever, and has 100x the vision of Mendenhall.

Surf Hawk said...

I love these posts, complete with video to check out. Keep them coming, some great players to follow.