Sunday, 8 November 2009

Jahvid Best - The Best Runner in 2010?

Forgive the pun, I (like everyone else writing about Cal RB Jahvid Best) couldn't pass up the opportunity.

The speedy Best was at one point considered a Heisman hopeful and has a very small shot at leapfrogging Clemson's CJ Spiller as the #1 back taken in the 2010 NFL Draft. He has 16 touchdowns on the year and is averaging 6.1 YPC.

I had the chance to go over two games of Best, against Oregon (rough day statistically) and against Minnesota (huge game statistically).

Running the ball, Best is electric. He has the best lateral agility - the ability to bounce the run outside effectively - that I've seen since LaDanian Tomlinson. He has exceptional quickness and very good speed. He isn't as truly shifty as I expected, but his acceleration leaves defenders looking silly.

California uses Best to run inside quite often, and he's adequate there. He's very small, probably playing at 5'9 190, and that doesn't help him. He has a nice spin move that he'll use behind the tackles, but his best trait is his acceleration and willingness to hit the hole hard. If the line creates a push or a crease, he'll find it and he'll pick up the 2, 3, 4 yards inside. He can bust longer runs with good blocking, but all he creativity he shows outside is lacking inside, primarily due his inability to break tackles. While he isn't a liability running inside, he's more valuable running outside.

Best was targeted a few times as a receiver in the games I watched and didn't disappoint. He's deadly on screens, where he can use his quickness, speed, and vision to rip off big gains. He was sent past the LOS on a few routes and while he didn't record any big gains there, he showed enough route-running to make me comfortable splitting him out wide.

His value in the passing game is almost entirely dependent on his receiving, however. While Best gives good effort as a blocker, he doesn't always get the right man (not a huge problem, but he did miss a man or two) and when he does, his lack of size is a big problem. Linebackers can push him back and obviously he shouldn't be asked to take on defensive linesmen.

Seattle would not be a bad fit for Best. He suits a zone blocking scheme and would be a terror on stretch running plays.

Using as part of a two-back system would be ideal, but he's versatile enough that he wouldn't give away the play call on any given play. His ability to rip off big runs would bring a much needed spark to Seattle, and he also could help Seattle as a return man. However, while I really would like to have Best on my team, I don't think he's worth a first rounder in any situation and probably would make the most sense around pick #50, due to his injury history and blocking troubles.


Patrick said...

I am a huge, huge fan of Jahvid Best. I think he will really surprise people in the NFL because he just has so much ability. I could really see him being the next Maurice Jones-Drew (A comparison based on size) but really some of his runs remind me of the absolute best. I would take him over C.J. Spiller, but that is just a personal opinion. I'm sure Spiller is amazing as well, I just haven't really seen enough. To tell you the truth, if I could choose one player for Seahawks to draft, it would be Jahvid Best (With Tim Tebow a very close 2nd).

My question is, looking at our current RB this season we have Julius Jones, Justin Forsett, and Louis Rankin. If we were to draft Best (or Spiller) who would be the odd man(men) out? Julius Jones has the protypical size but hasn't done enough to warrant being our feature back. Forsett has been really impressive, but team him with Best and we have 2 undersized (though talented) RBs. And Rankin is the new guy, but he actually seems like he could be the best RB on our roster with great size and speed.

Anonymous said...

Rob or Kyle,

What about his recent concussion?


Kyle Rota said...

Patrick - it was hard not to like Best as a runner. Outside running is the single biggest "change" in the NFL (In other words, it's harder) and that made me cautious of Best, but I liked his willingness to run inside and the speed at which he hit the hole. I grew up a huge LT fan, and Best bounces runs outside like LT. I'm not convinced at all he will stay healthy, however, and that's a big concern for me given all the injuries we've had.

I'm not a Julius Jones fan (I think he's a very good 3rd down back who thinks he's more), and would be more than happy to cut him. If we did that and took Best, I'd probably look to find another guy (FA or Draft) to act as a short yardage back - a situational back like that can be had pretty cheap. Forsett and Best could get the majority of the carries, and in obvious short yardage you bring in a TJ Duckett type.

Griffin - I don't claim to be a medical expert. I know that concussions occur above the shoulders. I think they also tend to "stack" (IE one makes another more likely) but I don't know that for certain. That's the extent of my concussion knowledge. It's definitely a concern, but it is something that I'm going to reserve judgment on until the pre-draft process (particularly the combine) when Doctors look at Best's head.

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