Lost in the shuffle amongst the performances at the NFL's Scouting Combine on Sunday's groups of running backs was that of University of Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead. His draft stock has been slowly rising over the past few months, thanks in part to an MVP performance at the Senior Bowl where he showcased his speed and versatility. With such backs as Boise State's Doug Martin and Utah State's Robert Turbin turning a lot of heads with their workouts, Pead wasn't spoken of all that much--and that's probably both a good and bad thing for the youngster.
If it seems that nobody is publicly buzzing about Pead after his Sunday workouts, it's probably simply because he came into Indianapolis and worked out as advertised. He ran well, posting a 4.47 40-yard dash time and showed some more athleticism with a position-best 6.95 second run during the three-cone drill. He also caught the ball well and did fine in the rest of the drills.
Though the Bengals haven't publicly showed any interest in Pead thus far, head coach Marvin Lewis hasn't ruled out that the team won't look harder at him in the near future.
In sitting down with the Cincinnati media over the weekend, Lewis was asked about the former Bearcat:
I think he's a really good prospect. I haven't watched tape of him yet. It's only TV scouting. I think he showed a different dimension with the punt returning he did at Senior Bowl and I think that will do nothing but elevate his stock. He's a great prospect. I haven’t met him and I don't think he's on our list here (to interview) because we'll be able to spend enough time with him back at home
The team traditionally spends time with some of the annual University of Cincinnati prospects, so it's safe to assume that Lewis is speaking the truth when he says they'll spend some time with and on Pead in the near future. As we (and others that cover the Bengals) have said numerous times, the team will be in the market for at least one running back this offseason. Pead could be someone that they target in the middle rounds of the draft.
The consensus opinion is that Pead would work best in a multi-back system because of concerns of his size and the durability issues that come with those concerns. It just depends on how high of a draft pick the team would be willing to use on a player that they might not see as an every-down NFL back. The team currently has a similar back on their roster in Bernard Scott, but the team has always been wary of making him a feature back because of his size. Pead is slightly bigger and perhaps a bit more athletic than Scott, but it's hard to say if they'd view him any differently.
In any case, expect the Bengals to do their homework on Pead. If they land a bigger back in free agency or the draft, a back like Pead could be a nice complementary option in the middle rounds if he's still available.