We're taking a brief look at every position this weekend, breaking down the roster at this point in the offseason.
Position Report: Running Back
Roster (3): BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard, Cedric Peerman, Aaron Brown
After dealing with his disruptive criticism regarding the team's offense last year, and the "issues" the followed him off the field, the Cincinnati Bengals allowed Cedric Benson to leave for free agency, opening a vacancy for the position. Though there's plenty of projected upside with the recently acquired Green-Ellis, there's slight hesitation due to the nature of New England's offensive philosophy. How will he translate into a more balanced system, requiring greater production from running backs in the West Coast offense?
Bernard Scott pieced together his best season last year, generating career-highs in yards rushing (380), touchdowns (3) and rushing attempts (112). Brian Leonard is the "utility guy", but he's never proven to be "the guy". Lack of opportunity or trust, who can say. But Leonard has only generated 26 rush attempts during his last 24 games (two seasons). Though sporting a 5.6 yard/rush during that stretch, that average is largely misleading due to the gains on draw plays during third-and-long where opposing defenses will give you all the rushing room in the world, until you close on the first down marker. Sure he's made great plays sustaining possessions, but in truth those are limited and it questions whether they're enough.
Draft Projection: We like to talk a big game. We like to say what's going to happen, or that our opinion is more thoughtful and reasonable than any bi-pedal walking on Earth. Truth is we don't know. If the Bengals select a running back in the first two rounds, it's logical to conclude that either Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard or Cedric Peerman gets the axe. If they don't draft someone early, you can figure their job security is safer, though not guaranteed. But that's the problem. Running back is one position that we're nowhere near close to assuring. It could go either way later this month.