Player: Joe McKnight
Just about now, in the draft, I start to panic, and I remind myself that I probably couldn’t run the Detroit Lions any better than those who do run the Detroit Lions. Well, okay, I could, but just barely.
Anyway, I start to see a future me who is in possession of a team with no game-breaking skills, so I do what any GM in a mock draft of this sort would do.
I furiously scan my copy of Phil Steele. I go look at what SoCal has on their roster. And that’s when I remember Joe McKnight.
Career: Joe’s been a part of of a massive stable of RB talent since his controversial recruitment by Pete Carroll and Reggie Bush. And just like everyone else in that RB corps, he’s been tabbed as “the next Reggie Bush.” Of course, that’s been inaccurate, but McKnight is extremely talented and would likely see himself starting on just about any other roster in the country. And even though he finds himself splitting time with 2, or sometimes 3, other RBs, he’s still managed to put together 8 different 100-yard all-purpose games. And last year, when he got the opportunities, he often made the most of them, averaging 7.4 yards per carry, good for 4th best in the nation.
Why Him Instead of a Domer: 7.4 yards per carry seems like a pretty damned good reason to me. That’s a full 3 yards better than Armando Allen’s 2008 average.
Career Vs. Notre Dame: In 2007, he rushed 7 times for 65 yards and a 9.3 yard average. But 1 of those rushes was for 51 yards. So the other 6 carriers only averaged 2.33 yards. Repeating, of course. So ha! Oh, but wait, that 51 yarder was good for a TD and served as the final throat-punch in a 38-0 game. In 2008, he didn’t have to wait until the 4th Q for a 50 yarder. No. That time, he got to run 55 yards down the field with 9 minutes to go in the 2nd Q. And then he apparently took a break, because he only rushed 3 other times in the game – all for a 15.8 yard average. But hey, again, look on the bright side: Those 3 other carries only netted 8 more yards.
Prediction for 2009: It’s tough to gauge in the real world. Apparently he’s getting a little sick of being just a cog in the machine, but it looks like Carroll has no intention of moving him to defense. And who could blame him? What coach wants to stop using a guy who could take the ball 60 yards at any point in the game? But it will be interesting to see what happens here. This seems like a small issue now, but could it finally be the sort of frustration we’ve all been expecting to see coming from SC with their eleventy running backs? Probably not. The cosmos don’t work that way. Besides, if McKnight got frustrated enough to leave SC, this guy would have to change his entire color scheme.