The Bengals knew what they were getting when they signed BenJarvus Green-Ellis; a reliable and proven running back in short-yardage and red zone situations, whom doesn't turn the ball over while being a good presence in the locker room. They also had to know that they weren't getting a running back that was going to make many defenders miss.
Green-Ellis is a good addition to a team that needs a grinder. He converted a league-high 14 third and one situations. What he isn't, though, is a running back that can put a team on is back the way Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster or Ray Rice can. I know it, you know it, the Bengals know it and Green-Ellis knows it. The guys over at Pro Football Focus know it too.
According to PFF, Green-Ellis is near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to elusiveness in the running game. They rank him at No. 50, right after Mikel Leshoure and right ahead of Shonn Greene. The group of players that Green-Ellis is grouped in with is considered "The Ugly End."
Of course every running back can't be Adrian Peterson, and the league is still stocked with players that rely on their blocking to generate the majority of their yardage. The good news this season is that there is nobody that posted an ER in the single-digits. Thomas Jones is also no longer in the league - those two statements may or may not be related.
The bottom five players feature three runners who seem exactly where they should be, in the shape of Shonn Greene, Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Mikel Leshoure. None of those three have impressed much as a runner and are rarely a threat to make people miss. The trio combined for 59 total missed tackles forced, which is the same number as Trent Richardson managed all by himself, and they did so despite averaging 281 touches.
Green-Ellis did run for 1,094 yards and scored six touchdowns in 2012 and excelled when it came to third- and fourth-and-short situations, converting 14 of 15 third-and-one plays. In that aspect, Green-Ellis did exactly what the Bengals asked him to do. He also gave the Bengals a few big plays throughout the season. He did have a 48-yard run against the Raiders, a 41-yard run against the Chargers, a 38-yard run against the Cowboys and 29-yard runs agains the Eagles and the Texans. However, for the most part, Green-Ellis struggled, and will continue to struggle, when it comes to turning big plays into homeruns.
The Bengals signed Green-Ellis through the 2014 season so they have someone capable of carrying the ball for them, but most believe that the team needs an additional running back that is more of a homerun threat. Bernard Scott has the big-play potential, but he's set to be a free agent in March and durability remains a concern. The Bengals could sign another free agent, but are more likely, according to many analysts, to turn to the draft to bring in someone else as a long-term solution.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. says the Bengals will draft Montee Ball in the first round of the draft in his first mock draft of the year, while our own Joe Goodberry believes that the Bengals could target either Clemson's Andre Ellington, Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle or North Carolina's Giovani Bernard in the first two rounds.