By Kip Earlywine
I figured I'd squeeze this one in before Rob's mock tomorrow. Good stuff.
40 time: 4.49
- Easily visible acceleration
- Good running instincts and vision
- Very nice cut-making ability
- Decisive, no dancing
- Good combination of size and speed
- Natural athlete
- Powerful, relentless runner who fights for yards
- Very good inside rusher
- Impressive start/stop
- Explosive lateral step
- Some shiftiness
- Dangerous and reliable pass catcher (302 yards in '09)
- Good willingness as a pass blocker
- Good ball security
- Productive 2009
- Great work ethic and attitude
- Injuries in '08, '07, and '05 (including an ACL which he recovered from)
- Not a true big play threat
- Not much of an outside runner
- Potential one year wonder
- YPC is lower than I expected it would be
- Leans forward and falls down a lot
- Poor balance?
- Bit of a high runner
- Already 23 years old
Hardesty is pretty much exactly the kind of RB the Seahawks should be looking for. His burst, vision, and cut-making ability are all above average, and his inside running ability might be the best I've seen so far among this year's RB group (I haven't yet watched Best). Zone puts a really big emphasis on inside running so this will make Hardesty a really appealing option to needy zone teams like Philly, Washington, and Seattle. He also had 307 total touches last season so he gives Seattle a needed workhorse option- if he stays healthy.
Injuries kind of headline the issues for Hardesty though. He didn't miss a lot of time from them (other than his true freshman ACL), but having been injured in 3 of his 5 seasons has to be considered at least a little bit concerning, especially if the team wants to rely on him for 50+% of the team's carries.
Hardesty also doesn't bring a true big play threat, at least not as a rusher (he's comparable to Forsett on screens, pretty shifty and dangerous and with more speed).
Hardesty had a very good showing at the combine, and I think anyone who sees Hardesty as a late round option is deeply misguided. Given the needs for RB and an unspectacular class, I'd be a little surprised if Hardesty reaches the 3rd round.
In summary, Hardesty made an outstanding first impression with me and he's the first back I've viewed so far who checked every one of my criteria for an ideal ZBS RB prospect. Getting him could be tricky, as he'd be a reach at #40 but no way does he reach our 4th rounder, IMO. Still, he'd be a great addition to the team and it won't surprise me if the Seahawks maneuver on draft day to target him. Hardesty still has room to improve and sometimes one year wonders become breakout players. I'd be excited if the Seahawks drafted him.