Richt's advice to NFL: Trade up to catch Knowshon Moreno

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    cowboyjoe Well-Known Member

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    Richt's advice to NFL: Trade up to catch Knowshon Moreno
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    Yahoo! Buzz Digg Newsvine Reddit FacebookWhat's this?By Skip Wood, USA TODAY
    USA TODAY analyzes the running backs available in the April 25-26 NFL draft. Also in this article: Cream of the crop among running backs and teams in need.
    Former Georgia standout Knowshon Moreno is one of the highest-rated running backs in the upcoming NFL draft.

    One wouldn't know that, however, if dwelling simply on his rhetoric. During various predraft interview opportunities, his answers were polite, reasonably thoughtful but clipped.

    Moreno is quick to deflect attention away from himself, such as when he noted that the scouts surely were in Athens, Ga., to watch highly rated quarterback Matt Stafford and not him.

    He also knows better.

    Stafford might be a highly rated player, but so is Moreno. Tell him that, and he probably will shrug.

    At the combine in February, Moreno was asked whether he had a preference as to who drafts him. "It depends on what the team wants — I'll be happy to go anywhere," he said. "They'll be getting a great person. An accountable guy. I will be ready to participate and compete."

    Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is quick to dispel the notion that Moreno is a man of few words.

    "No, no, no," Bobo says, chuckling. "He might be a little reserved, but that's just his humbleness. On the team, he's got an outgoing personality, energetic, a spark. You can see in the way he relates to everyone on the football team."

    Georgia fans fell in love with Moreno two seasons ago when he was a redshirt freshman and rushed for 1,334 yards.

    That happened to be the fourth-highest output from a freshman in the storied history of the Southeastern Conference.

    Last year was more of the same. After two seasons, Moreno had rushed for 2,734 yards and 30 touchdowns.

    Bobo reports that Georgia coaches then became resigned to the inevitable.

    No more Knowshon.

    "We had our fingers crossed and everything hoping he wouldn't (leave school)," Bobo says, "but, you know ...

    "But he was definitely one of the best backs in the country, and this was best for him."

    He continues, chuckling, "Best for him, not so much for us."

    The thing is, Georgia didn't lose its best running back.

    Because, according to Bobo, Moreno is not a running back.

    Never mind that Moreno widely is considered as one of the top two running backs in this season's buffet, along with Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells.

    "I'll say it like this," Bobo says of Moreno. "Sure, he plays running back, but that's not how the coaches here saw him.

    "We saw him as one of the toughest guys on the team, a guy willing to do anything at any time. So that's what we thought of Knowshon, not in terms of position but in terms of being a football player."

    Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt didn't hesitate to offer his advice when Moreno made public his intentions to leave school early.

    Referring both to Moreno and Stafford, Richt said, "Trade up for them, if you're smart.

    "I think whichever NFL teams get them will be very excited and very blessed by it. They'll not only be good players, but they'll be good in their locker rooms and good in their communities. They're going to do well."

    Various draft tracking firms differ on exactly how well the position of running back will fare this season, at least in terms of selection order.

    One general manager who knows a thing or two about Moreno — not to mention Stafford — is the Atlanta Falcons' Thomas Dimitroff.

    "They are not in need areas for us," Dimitroff says, "(but) we've had the opportunity to see them quite a bit.

    "Not to get into a whole bunch of specifics about players — I don't want to give you my scouting report necessarily — but I think those two guys are going to make a lot of money."



    • Height, weight: 6-1, 235

    • Scouting report: Effective downhill runner. Good vision, with the ability to move the pile and good lateral moves. Difficult to bring down. Durability is a concern.

    • Insider's take: "The best running back in this class, though (some have) questions about his consistency and toughness" —Rob Rang,

    • Projected round: First


    • Height, weight: 5-10, 210

    • Scouting report: His 2,083 rushing yards topped the nation. Good balance and receiving ability. Size and speed might become an issue.

    • Insider's take: "He's legit. He's talented enough to play in any scheme. ... He'll have to learn patience." —Mike Mayock, NFL Network draft analyst

    • Projected round: First


    • Height, weight: 5-11, 198

    • Scouting report: Hits the hole quickly. Has speed in open spaces. Doesn't have overpowering strength or size.

    • Insider's take: "He can see a hole develop, cut back, and he is gone. He is a difference-maker and a potential franchise-type player." —Rang

    • Projected round: Second


    • Height, weight: 6-1, 231

    • Scouting report: Scouts like his strength, size and power. Must prove his effectiveness against elite players and improve his pass blocking.

    • Insider's take: "There is a risk because of the level of competition — for obvious reasons." — Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN draft analyst

    • Projected round: Second


    • Height, weight: 6-0, 224

    • Scouting report: Huge potential. Size and speed. Has improved his receiving skills. Hobbled by foot injuries the last couple of seasons.

    • Insider's take: "He would probably be rated higher if he was more durable." —Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange

    • Projected round: Second


    • Arizona Cardinals: It's too much to expect young Tim Hightower to immediately develop into an elite back. He faded after a quick start in 2008, and Edgerrin James re-emerged as the starter. James is entering the final year of his contract and asked for his release at one point. The Cardinals are going to need a good backup, especially one with the speed to complement Hightower.

    • Cincinnati Bengals: Although the Bengals re-signed Cedric Benson, they need to bulk up in the depth category. Benson was a pleasant surprise after Cincinnati rescued him off the scrap heap following his release by the Chicago Bears. After Benson, who has been up and down in his career, there's not much to get the Cincinnati faithful's blood racing. Chris Perry lost his staring job last season, for example. The Bengals could seek a back in the middle rounds.

    • New Orleans Saints: Now that Deuce McAllister is gone, coach Sean Payton has made it no secret that the team wants to find a ready replacement. That's because he knows the Saints probably aren't going to reach their goals with the current duo of Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, neither of whom has demonstrated an ability to be more than a situational player.

    • Philadelphia Eagles: Brian Westbrook is the first to acknowledge he's not getting any younger, and he's coming off a season in which he was hobbled by an injured knee. He had surgery in January but said recently that he would welcome the Eagles bringing in another back through the draft, especially given that Correll Buckhalter departed to the Denver Broncos via free agency. Westbrook is as tough as they come, but the Eagles know they have to get reinforcements.

    • San Diego Chargers: Former NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson remains with a reworked deal but also with bruised feelings about the process. Darren Sproles is back, but he's not the type of runner who can carry the load alone. The Chargers are well aware they need to begin preparing for life after L.T.

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