With Kevin Smith tearing his ACL towards the end of 2009, the Lions moved quickly to get a potential replacement. With the 30th selection in the 2010 draft, they selected Jahvid Best.
He set numerous records while at the University of California, including:
- Most rushing yards in a game – 311 yards on 12/06/08
- Most all purpose yards in a season – 2,247 in 2008
- Most rushing yards in the Emerald Bowl – 186 yards
- Most rushing TDs for University of California in the modern era – 5 on 09/19/09 (someone did score six back in 1922)
That’s not to mention that he had the second most rushing yards in season, rushing for 1,580 yards in 2008.
There’s no questioning Best’s ability, but is he going to get the majority of the carries or will Smith, who made his preseason debut this past weekend, return to his starting role? While Smith may claim to be close to 100%, his recent quotes in the Detroit Free Press (click here for the full article), tell a different story:
“Some days, I can wake up and forget I even had the surgery,” Smith said. “Some days, I can wake up and wonder how I’m going to get through the day. That just comes the part with an ACL. But it’ll get better. In four months, when I’m a year out, I’ll feel better. Next off-season, I should feel great.”
He had three carries for six yards in his debut (as well as a pair of receptions), and the injury may limit his ability to show the same type of skill he had in his rookie campaign when he rushed for 976 yards and 8 TD. Also, were his injuries the only reason we should be slightly sour on Smith, who averaged just 3.4 yards/carry last season prior to going down?
Best has looked dynamic this preseason, with 78 yards on just 14 carries. He would appear to have the edge, at least in the early going, to win the starting job. That’s not to say that Smith won’t play a role, and if he proves healthy, could grab more and more playing time in no time.
With an improved passing game led by Matt Stafford (click here to see my thoughts on him) and Calvin Johnson, defenses will not be able to focus on the run. Also, don’t underestimate the addition of Tony Sheffler, which will allow the Lions to operate in more two tight end sets. Yes, he provides more offensive potential, but the more they line up in that formation and run the ball, the more it will open things up for the passing game.
The positives in that aspect should give either running back a little bit extra room to operate.
One of the biggest issues for Best could be Smith’s ability in the passing game. Smith had 80 catches over his first two seasons, a talent that he clearly still possesses. Even if the knee injury limits his burst on the ground, the Lions easily could try to cash in on his ability in the passing game.
Smith is also the bigger of the two, at 6’1″, 217 lbs. (Best is 5’10″, 199 lbs.). Could that mean that Smith could steal goal line carries, and therefore numerous touchdowns (while Best needs to play the role “home run” back in order to score)?
Those questions make you wonder about Best and his potential upside. He’s a solid option, but as a rookie and with the presence of Smith (despite the injury concerns), you just don’t know how much he will get to produce. He has an ADP of around 50, the 20th running back coming off the board). That sounds about right for me.
I’d much prefer to have him as my third running back, as opposed to a starter.
What about you? Is Best someone you are high on in 2010? Why or why not?
Make sure to check out Rotoprofessor’s 2010 rankings:
Also, make sure to check out our recent rookie rankings: