Sunday, 29 November 2009

Some brief thoughts on Toby Gerhart

I've gone through the tape of Saturday's game between Stanford and Notre Dame and it offered a first real chance to look at Toby Gerhart (RB, Stanford). You can't help but be impressed with his production - he has 1736 rushing yards in 2009 and an incredible 26 TD's. It's Heisman quality and he deserves to be in contention for that award. I don't think he'll get it because I expect Colt McCoy will, although I wouldn't necessarily agree with that considering Texas' soft schedule and McCoy's struggles earlier in the year. But alas - he plays for an unbeaten team, he's high profile and he would've won it last year (deservedly) had it not been for one brilliant play by Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell.

I've seen some suggest on this blog and elsewhere that Gerhart could be a first or second round pick. I cannot agree with that. He's a very entertaining running back and the kind you want to root for - all power and endeavour fighting for every yard. He's a back that takes what the defense offers and is incredibly durable. I don't want to under play his athleticism because it's better than your average work horse. However, he is what he is - and teams don't draft his type of running back early. He's not got breakaway speed and he won't make anyone miss. Gerhart's not a great cut back runner and I didn't see any real evidence of value to the passing game. His pass protection was a little disappointing, I expected a ferocious blocker to match his running style, but it never really happened.

If he does declare for 2010 and goes to a team that already owns an established ground game, I think he could be a surprising success. He'll beat you up through the middle, he's by no means a slouch so he can take it outside and pick up yardage but he's not going to bounce wide and break off. Gerhart could be a great compliment to somebody like Ray Rice in Baltimore. In my opinion, he could go in that fourth round range and my expectations would be relatively low at the next level because he is one dimensional. However - that doesn't mean he isn't great to watch on a Saturday.

12 comments:

Michael said...

He might look good in combination with Forsett, assuming the Hawks cannot get Spiller/Best/Dwyer in the early part of the draft.

bob said...

And he'll probably declare for the 2010 draft since he's a senior.

Rob Staton said...

Bob - it was discussed during the Notre Dame game that he will almost certainly be given another year's legibility if he appeals for missing 2007 with an injury. It's not a complete shoe in he'll head for the NFL, but it will be likely.

Anonymous said...

Rob

Do you think the Hawks would target a runner high in the draft say 2nd round.

Also, you said in an earlier comment section that you don't like Rob Sims as a fit for seattle. Why?

Rob Staton said...

Hi annonymous - I don't recall saying Sims is a bad fit. I think essentially the Seahawks need to add to their interior line, mainly because we've seen a retirement (Wahle) and further injury concerns to both Sims and Spencer. I'm yet to be convinced we can rely on Sims as a full time left guard, at least to warrant a long term extension. However, there aren't a lot of options in the draft or free agency for quality left guards. Rodney Hudson is someone I'm a huge fan of, but he's only a junior. If he doesn't declare, or if Seattle want insurance because you can never guarantee to get who you want in a draft - it would make sense to sign Sims to a two year deal like they did with Ray Willis.

With regard to taking a running back early, I am in favor of it yes. Not to the extent I think we necessarily should in any scenario, but I wouldn't rule it out. The Seahawks have a lot of needs - d-line, o-line, long term answer at QB etc. But they also lack playmakers on both sides of the ball. There are points in this draft where value might dictate that taking a running back would be the right thing to do, even if it's not the top priority at the time. CJ Spiller late in round one, or Jahvid Best early in round two would offer very good value at a position of need. You wouldn't avoid taking them to reach on an offensive lineman with a third round grade for example, even if by method you'd rather repair that area of the team before spending a high pick on a RB.

I also think a succesful o-line and a succesful RB work hand in hand. For example, the Cleveland Browns have some of the best young offensive line talent in the country. Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Eric Steinbach. Many would love to have even one of them in Seattle. However, there is no threat at RB, WR or QB. Watch the Browns and you'll see a line over worked, consistently under pressure and struggling. Teams can stack the box, knowing they won't be beaten over the top. They can afford to be expansive when blitzing. If you don't have any weapons your offensive line will not be able to put points on the board for you.

However, when you have that compliment of a good line and some talented young skill players, you keep a defense honest. Now, I know people will argue that you should get the line sorted first, then compliment it with the RB. It's a fair suggestion. However, it's not always in your hands like that. 2010 will not be a good year for OL. It's not a great year for RB's either. But there'll be points in round one when Charles Brown (OT, USC) is the right pick and points when CJ Spiller could be the right pick. Sometimes, you just have to stick to your draft board, even if ideally you'd like to go a different way.

Michael said...

I would love to see the Hawks either take the highest rated player available, if they cannot move, or move to where they think the player they targeted ought to be drafted. I do not think they should overdraft or trade any picks for a player. We need lots of help everywhere except LB.

Love the draft talk on this blog btw.

fountaindale said...

Rob, as I understand the best- available-player concept it is simply drafting quality over need. My question is how does a team's system fit into the equation? What if a fullback is the highest rated player on your board but you run a one-back spread? I believe you stated that the zone blocking scheme did not require the prototype NFL lineman. Why would you use a first round pick for the OL if that talent is available later in the draft? Doesn't a team's system have to affect the player ratings and draft board positions?

Rob Staton said...

Hey Fountaindale,

Scheme obviously plays a large part in certain scenarios. If you run a 4-3 you aren't going to have a 3-4 lineman at the top of your board anyway. If you run a one back scheme, the full back won't be top of the board. You set up the board to fit in with guys you're actually going to draft.

With regard to offensive lineman, it's not that you don't need 'prototype' players in the ZBS but rather a certain type of lineman. You're looking at the more athletic, nimble lineman rather than the big powerful unmovable object. There will be guys in round one who fit that - Charles Brown is a guy I'm particularly high on from USC who fits the ZBS mantra and I'd feel confident using a first rounder on him in certain situations. I wouldn't, though, suggest Andre Davis at Rutgers because he's very much a man scheme prospect.

So a team's system does affect how you will draft, but it's more a case of refining a board.

rakeback said...

Toby Gerhart is already one of the best players in college football and if Standford can keep him together with Andrew Luck they could contend for the PAC 10 for the next couple years and maybe a national championship.

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