Now that the dust of the 2011 Draft has settled, it’s time to analyze the current state of Buffalo’s roster. We’ll be taking a look at one position at a time. Today: RB.
Players Under Contract (4): Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, Johnny White, Jehuu Caulcrick
Possibly Departing Free Agents: Quinton Ganther
1) Fred Jackson
2010 stats: 222 carries, 927 yards, 4.2 YPC, 5 TD; 31 rec, 215 yds, 2 TD
After inexplicably starting the season as third-string running back, Fred Jackson was his typical awesome self in 2010. The man simply finds a way to produce when he’s on the field. He did struggle a bit down the stretch – no rushing TDs in the last six games. However, I think the usual Buffalo offensive line injuries/struggles had something to do with that.
One minor concern with Jackson is that he passed the magical “30-year-old running back” barrier this February. Fortunately, due to Jackson’s long, meandering trip through football’s minor leagues before reaching the NFL, he has a little less tread on his tires than a typical 30-year-old NFL running back. I see at least a few more productive years in Jackson’s future.
2) C.J. Spiller
2010 stats: 74 carries, 283 yards, 3.8 YPC; 24 receptions, 157 yards, 1 TD; 1 kick return TD
As we talked about in our 2010 Draft revisit this weekend, Spiller had a rough rookie season. Can he break out in 2011? It will all depend on how much he learned from his struggles in 2010. Can he pick up pass-blocking assignments? Can he be more of a north-south runner?
We’ll see. He has all the talent though. There could be huge things in store for Spiller this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s handed a starting role early in a “sink-or-swim” scenario. Might as well see if he can handle it.
3) Johnny White
The Bills’ fifth-round draft pick was viewed by some as a late-round steal, including Todd McShay of ESPN. I’m big on White’s potential too. If Spiller struggles, I have no doubt Chan Gailey will have no issue putting White on the field. At the very least, White will contribute on special teams right away. You’ll hear his name a lot in 2011.
4) Jehuu Caulcrick
2010 stats: 1 carry, 2 yards
Caulcrick is a really cool story. Born in Liberia, Caulcrick came to America with his mother and sister after his politician father was assassinated. The family ended up settling in Western New York, where Jehuu had an impressive high school football career which included over 100 TDs. Caulcrick ended up at Michigan State, and had a nice career there.
Caulcrick has since bounced around the NFL, including stints with the Jets, Buccaneers, and 49ers – but never getting off the practice squad. He finally got an NFL carry late last season with the Bills, running for a first down in the win at Cincinnati.
Caulcrick has a shot to stick as a second fullback or as a third running back if there’s an injury in 2011.
Possible Departing Free Agents:
1) Quinton Ganther
Ganther got some playing time later in the year with C.J. Spiller’s struggles/injuries. Ganther’s a solid guy who helps on special teams, but I think drafting Johnny White means Ganther won’t be back. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him land somewhere in the NFL in 2011.
I don’t think Buffalo brings in another “name” free agent this year. Jackson, Spiller, and White is a pretty good three-back combo.
(Brad Andrews is the editor for BuffaloLowDown; a Bills fan blog. You can read more of their articles by clicking here)