There’s no doubt in my mind that the Eagles will take a running back at some point in this year’s draft. Where that may be, I’m not sure.
A lot of people liked what they saw out of Jerome Harrison last year, as did I. However, he wants to start in this league and he’s going to want the kind of money that comes along with that role. He won’t receive either of those from the Eagles.
The Eagles have a stud in running back in LeSean McCoy and also have a backup in Eldra Buckley who they like as a special teams player. If they do indeed get ride of Harrison, they will need a true running back who can produce when called upon.
The answer can be found in the draft, and that answer could be Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter.
Hunter is built low to the ground at 5’7” and 200 pounds, but was a workhorse in college. He emerged in 2008 where he racked up 241 carries for 1,555 yards and 16 touchdowns. However, he was hampered by an ankle injury in 2009 and only managed to play in eight games, rushing 89 times for 382 yards.
Hunter came back healthy as a senior and put together another impressive year. He ran the ball 271 times for 1,548 yards and 16 touchdowns. With numbers almost identical to his sophomore year, it’s hard to believe that Hunter wouldn’t have had three consecutive 1,500+ yard seasons if it wasn’t for the ankle injury.
Clearly, Hunter doesn’t have tremendous size, and this may cause some teams to pass on him. Also, he doesn’t have absolutely killer speed either. At the NFL Combine, he posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.53 seconds.
He’s not the fastest running back in this year’s draft, but what he lacks in speed, he makes up for in quickness. If you watch film on Hunter, you notice that he has a very quick sidestep that he uses strongly to his advantage. When surrounded by traffic on the field, he is able to sidestep and get north and south very easily.
He’s able to use his blocks well with his smaller stature and has very good vision on the field. As mentioned, he’s built low to the ground, and has great balance to go along with it.
Some questions marks the Eagles may have with Hunter are his ability to catch the ball and pass block. In four seasons at Oklahoma State, Hunter never recorded more than 22 receptions in one game.
I’m not sure if that’s related to the offensive scheme that Oklahoma State ran or an inability on Hunter’s part. The Eagles love to utilize their running backs in the passing game, and since the Eagles gave Hunter a workout already, I’m sure they threw a lot of passes his way to see what he could do.
Pass blocking will be another big question mark. There have been reports that Hunter hasn’t been a great pass blocker and that it really showed at the Senior Bowl. However, that is something that can definitely be worked on.
McCoy was awful as a pass blocker his rookie season but has improved dramatically. He had a great mentor in Brian Westbrook, but I think McCoy could definitely help get Hunter pointed in the right direction.
I don’t know how much value the Eagles are going to place on the backup running back position, but Hunter is definitely a guy I can see being an immediate contributor.
Check out some of Hunter’s college highlights by clicking here.