The Cincinnati Bengals have one running back signed for the 2011 season and that man is the oppressively underused Bernard Scott. Cedric Benson is an unrestricted free agent and one of the team's high priority offseason signings behind cornerback Johnathan Joseph. Brian Leonard will likely become an unrestricted free agent once a collective bargaining agreement is struck and the classification for restricted and unrestricted free agents reverts back to four years. Cedric Peerman, who ran twice for a single yard in seven games played, is an exclusive-rights free agent that the team will likely tender to bolster the position with bodies.
That being said, the Bengals know that they need a running back.
During Virginia Tech's Pro Day on March 17, Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson was one of several coaches from other teams scouting running back running back Ryan Williams. Gil Brandt remarks that Williams reminds him "some" of Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean LeCoy.
If Williams can prove he can stay healthy, Williams could be the second or third back selected. He’s a compact runner with good quickness and catches the ball well.
A Brian Leonard replacement?
ESPN's DraftTracker ranks Williams as the second-best running back prospect behind Alabama's Mark Ingram. They grade him above average in vision, patience, agility, acceleration, power, balance, the passing game, size, production and competitiveness.
Runs hard and finishes. Clearly a very competitive runner. Only issue here is ball security. Fumbled five times (lost three) during 2009 season, one of which cost Hokies the game vs. UNC. But he did improve in that area in 2010 (only one fumble and VT recovered it)
Williams has some durability concerns and average intangibles.
Hard worker. Waited his turn and capitalized on opportunity in 2009. Passionate about the game. Puts in the time necessary to improve. There were some concerns voiced by people in VTU program that Williams changed a bit and let success get to him. Scouts will examine personality a bit closer but does not appear to be a major red flag.