Hello Seahawks Draft Blog-Readers! I've been pretty quiet lately, but I'll be putting up quite a bit this weekend - just the way the schedule looked. I was going to save this for Saturday, but I noticed Rob has stepped out and figured I'd put this up tonight.
Toby Gerhart, a senior from Stanford, starts off the first of about half a dozen running backs I'll be scouting over the next week or two. A true two-sport athlete, Gerhart would easily have a baseball future if he hung up his pads. His NFL future is equally as bright, however, as Gerhart will definitely hear his name called on draft weekend.
Let us start with the positives. At 6'1, 235 Gerhart has excellent size and runs with the mentality of a power back. He's always falling forward, making him an excellent choice for grinding out yards. Gerhart has very good vision (and he's patient), looks to be a great blocker (need to see more), and showed nice hands a couple of times. He also shows the ability to run with good pad level, though it isn't consistent.
The biggest hole in Gerhart's game is his lack of athleticism. He isn't a guy who can consistently hit the corner in the NFL, but he can run off-tackle if the blocking is good. He should be able to run the stretch-runs that are a staple in zone-heavy schemes. His quickness is alright except when he has to change directions, then he slow down dramatically (usually means tight hips and limited athleticism combined). When he is in the open field, he can be caught from behind but he can rip off long runs as well. I'm also concerned with how often Gerhart is taken off the field - I don't know if it is conditioning or just a cautious coaching staff, but it is something Seattle needs to do their homework on.
The zone blocking system seems to do best with either small, quick backs or huge power backs - very little in between. Gerhart is the type of back who could consistently get 4 or 5 yards if Seattle ever straightens out their offensive line. He also brings the production and intangibles that Tim Ruskell loves - IF Gerhart commits to football and leaves his baseball career at Stanford. I wouldn't take Gerhart before the 3rd round because I think he's a situational runner, but that doesn't mean he couldn't be a 15-carry-a-game guy in a committee situation. He'll give you good production inside without entirely giving away the game plan, and you can leave him in on 3rd-and-long.
Of course, I've only combed through two games of Gerhart, so things such as blocking, ball security, and receiving need more time before they an be considered accurately evaluated. As a runner, though, this should give you an idea what to expect from the Stanford back.