I’ve heard speculation that this year’s draft class doesn’t have the upper first-round “feature back”, that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in the drafts of recent years (ie. Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson). To this suggestion, I wondered how you could ignore six feet and one inch, 237 pounds, over 3000 career rushing yards, and 30 touchdowns. His name is Chris “Beanie” Wells, the junior running back of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
If you are one of his skeptics, I suggest you rewind the clocks of time to 2007, Wells’s sophomore year, to the specific date of the yearly showdown with the Michigan Wolverines. It was then that Wells managed to rush for 222 yards, adding a pair of touchdowns, and leading the Buckeyes to victory. It was a career defining performance for Wells, and gives a pretty convincing snapshot of how dominant he can be when healthy.
This game serves as a microcosm for Wells’s career, often acting as the very engine that drove Buckeyes’s offense, regardless of the inconsistent quarterback play that plagued them. Even with a true freshman at quarterback (Terrell Pryor), and missing three games due to injury, Wells was still able to break the 1000 yard mark this past year, rushing for more than 100 yards on all but two occasions.
The red flag commonly raised with Wells’s is his tendency to be injured. This past season he missed three games, but more notably disappeared in the second half of the 2009 Fiesta Bowl against Texas with an undisclosed injury.
My response to this is simple. A kid by the name of Adrian Peterson from Oklahoma had similar caution flags when entering the 2007 draft. He won the NFL’s rushing title this past season. And just for the record, in the Fiesta Bowl against Texas, Wells rushed for over 100 yards before leaving the game. In the first half.