The Atlanta Falcons are obviously set at running back for 2011 with Michael Turner. However, that hasn’t stopped them from doing their homework on some running backs in this year’s draft class.
It appears as though the Falcons are looking to add a new dimension to their offense in the form of a home-run hitter to compliment the more physical Turner.
Hunter could make an immediate impact
The Falcons have met with (or are scheduled to meet with) Kendall Hunter, Mario Fanin, DuJuan Harris, Derrick Locke and Da’Rel Scott. All five have been clocked at 4.45 or faster in the 40 this offseason.
Despite the fact that running back is well down on the Falcons list of needs, don’t be shocked if they address the position fairly early in the draft. Coming off a 13-3 season, the Falcons are one of a handful of teams with enough in place for 2011 that they can afford an early luxury pick.
A player such as Kendall Hunter, who could be an option in the 2nd round, could immediately become a dangerous weapon on offense and change the way defenses game plan for the Falcons.
With both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams set to be come free agents, it’s no surprise that the Miami Dolphins are doing their homework on the running backs in this year’s draft class.
According to various reports, the Dolphins are meeting with (or already have met with) Mario Fanin, Mark Ingram, Mikel Leshoure, Bilal Powell and Ryan Williams.
Ingram has been a popular pick for the Dolphins in mock drafts through the offseason (including my own) but LeShoure could be an option in the 1st round as well.
Personally, I like Leshoure more than Ingram. Leshoure is a better all-around athlete and I think he’s better suited to carry the load in the NFL. Ingram can be successful but he’ll be better off in a two-back system, which the Dolphins may not have in 2011.
The other three running backs getting a look from the Dolphins – Williams, Fanin and Powell – will likely be considered in the later rounds.
The Dolphins don’t own a 2nd-round pick, which means they’ll probably need to trade up to land Williams, who is likely to come off the board within the first 50 picks.
Fanin and Powell, however, should fall to the 3rd round or beyond and could be late-round options. It’s possible that the Dolphins would draft Ingram or Leshoure in the 1st round and still select a player like Fanin or Powell later in the draft.