I've just finished watching the Clemson vs Georgia Tech game from yesterday, where the Yellow Jackets ground out a 39-33 victory to win the ACC Championship. I have nothing against GT (but I do find the system they use completely unpleasant on the eye), but I was desperate for Clemson to win just for C.J. Spiller. Simply put - the guy was immense. Clearly hurting, Spiller was suffering terribly with a turf toe injury that's dogged him all year. It seemed like after each play he was limping back to the line of scrimmage or the sideline.
Quite the miracle then, that he managed to post a career high 233 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He was outstanding. People question his durability and yes it's a legitimate concern whenever you're thinking of taking a running back in round one. However - that was some gutsy performance. He never got out of third gear because of his injury, but even so he was out running everyone to break off big runs. He took the tough, hurtful yards - hitting the hole with purpose and making the most of everyone one of his twenty carries.
I truly believe he can be the focal point of a running game in the NFL. Yes - you keep someone on the roster who can spell him, that's what Clemson have done all year. But he can take most of the carries. The added bonus is you can leave him in there on any play call - his pass protection is above average and he runs exceptional routes with good hands.
The Seahawks simply don't have anyone on their roster with Spiller's game breaking ability. Team's will have to gameplan for his speed. They'll be cautious of giving him the ball on kick offs, surrendering field position. He can score six points every time he has the ball and right now Seattle does not score enough cheap points. The Seahawks offense is predictable, lacks any kind of spark and needs someone like C.J. Spiller.
He's too explosive to ignore, even at 50% health. Of his four TD's, two were short range hard runs to pound the ball over. The other two - bouncing out wide to break off 40 yard runs and take it all the way. He regularly found the edge or a crease. Put the ball in his hands, get him into space and it's over. In that sense he reminds me so much of Chris Johnson in Tennessee, a guy who you fancy to break off one big run a game. The two aren't identical prospects - Johnson is a bit bigger but Spiller perhaps is a little more savvy. However - they both share one trait which is elite speed. The Clemson runner's stock could explode if he runs a Johnson-esque time at the combine in the 4.2's.
Elsewhere, I was thankful for the opportunity to watch Derrick Morgan again and his performance confirmed my original opinion of him. He was consistently making plays in the backfield despite battling strict double teams throughout. Morgan didn't record a sack, but then Clemson didn't throw all that often. He did press the QB when he needed to, again showing that relentless style and always playing to the whistle. On one play he moved inside, explodes past the first blocker (left guard) escapes the left tackle in support and gets to the QB 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
He flashed quickness off the snap instantly putting blockers on the back foot and getting into the backfield. Morgan has the prototype size for a 4-3 defensive end and the size/speed combo which will make him a threat at the next level. I feel confident enough to keep him third overall on my prospect rankings for 2010 - he should be a top 10 pick.