Point-Counterpoint: Is running back a big need?

Point-Counterpoint: Is running back a big need?
April 8, 2011, 10:26 am
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Friday, April 8, 2011 6:30 AM By Rich Tandler and Ryan OHalloran
CSNwashington.comAs has been well documented here and elsewhere, the Washington Redskins have myriad needs going into the 2011 NFL Draft. There is no question that they should grab a good player for the defensive front seven, wide receiver, or quarterback if one is on the board for either of their first two picks.But what about running back? Are the Redskins in good enough shape there to stand pat? Or should they select a running back in the first or second round if hes clearly the best player on the board?Rich Tandler and Ryan OHalloran debate the question in this weeks edition of Point-Counterpoint.Rich Tandler: On the surface, Ryan Torain looks like a solid running back. In 10 games last year, he gained 742 yards. That would project to 1,200 over a full season, which is decent production. But the problem is relying on him to go a full season. Keiland Williams is a solid role player who contributes on special teams but when the Redskins relied on him to be their prime back when Torain was hobbled, it didnt work out very well. If Ryan Williams of Virginia Tech is still available when the Redskins pick comes up in the second round, they should think long and hard about taking him to be their feature back.Ryan OHalloran: Torain thrust himself into consideration by returning (albeit a few weeks later than expected) for the final two games of the season. When healthy, he could be The Guy, but the Redskins better have reinforcements in place. Mike Shanahan made himself a lot of money in Denver over the years by using late-round picks on running backs and fitting them into his scheme. Dont rule out Shanahan taking a flier on a veteran free agent like Ronnie Brown, Laurence Maroney or Julius Jones, but I would use the second round pick on a more important need. Jake Locker, anybody?Tandler: The Redskins could well be facing a situation where Locker or Christian Ponder are gone by the time their second-round pick comes around. If that happens, the Redskins could take a two- or three-year project like Colin Kaepernick or they could wait another year to draft the QB of the future. If you have Rex Grossman or his equivalent holding down the fort while we all wait, a very strong running game will be needed to make the games watchable. Yes, you might be able to get 1,000 yards out of a late-round pick (Shanahan is famous for being able to find productive backs late), one of those veterans or Torain. But just 65 yards a game will give you 1,000 for the year. They will need elite production at the position with the situation at quarterback being what it is. You rarely find that late in the draft or from a high-mileage back that another team is willing to discard.OHalloran: Any Redskins fan reading this exchange should be depressed as all get out by now. On most teams, I can identify one clear need that needs to be addressed in the first 2-3 rounds of the draft. For the Redskins, its perfectly acceptable to use The Dart Board Theory anything goes and anything is a need except for tight end. Its up to Shanahan The Personnel Czar to decide what can best help Shanahan The Head Coach. The best plan is to semi-sacrifice 2011 as a building year, which means muddling along at the running back spot while using those precious first two picks to draft an impact defensive lineman or linebacker and then adding a quarterback. They might not make an impact in September 2011, but should be ready to go in September 2012.You can reach Ryan by email at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com and you can write Rich at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net .