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NFL Draft: Player Profile - Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
John Tuvey
March 6, 2009
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Knowshon Moreno. GeorgiaMeasurables:
Combine height: 5-10 5/8
Combine weight: 217 pounds
Combine 40 time: 4.56 seconds

Stats:
Moreno rushed for 1,463 yards (at 5.9 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns in his final year with the Bulldogs. He also caught 33 passes for 392 yards and two more touchdowns. For his Georgia career, Moreno carried 498 yards for 2,859 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and 30 touchdowns, with 53 catches for 645 yards and two more touchdowns.

Skill Set:
There are few quibbles with Moreno’s NFL-ready game. He’s a shade smaller than what most teams would like for their feature back, and the fact that he’s best between the tackles, is ultra-competitive, and refuses to go down on initial contact suggests he may take a pounding. However, he does a great job of delivering blows rather than absorbing them—he has a great stiff arm as well as a good spin move and the ability to leap over defenders who come in low—and offers defenders little to hit. Moreno has played through bumps and bruises, so there are no true durability red flags.

More quick and shifty than straight-line fast, Moreno may need help to get to the corner at the NFL level. But his vision, anticipation, and burst are second to none; his uncanny lateral movement helps him wiggle away from defenders and he’s demonstrated the ability to avoid defenders with an angle. Moreno is also a natural receiver, and his willingness and aggressiveness in pass protection should allow him to stay on the field all three downs right from the start.

Possible Destinations:
Running backs have had a tendency to slip in the past few drafts as teams feel they can get more mileage out of a second- or third-round pick without having to pay big money. That said, Moreno’s talent should ensure he’s shaking hands with Roger Goodell instead of Gene Washington. The Seahawks and Browns both have a need in the top five, but they’re more likely to wait until the second round to address the need. Cincinnati and Jacksonville could look for a back to share the workload with their current feature runners, but again that seems like an itch to be scratched a round or two later. San Diego at 16 seems like a good fit if the Chargers can’t work out their differences with LaDainian Tomlinson—or even if they can, as Darren Sproles is working off a one-year deal and LT is nearing the end of his run. The Eagles would love a complement/heir to Brian Westbrook and will have two first-round opportunities to address that need. Neither the Patriots or Colts have a glaring need at the position, but that hasn’t stopped them from drafting a talented player in the past. And if Moreno were to slide all the way to Arizona at 31 it would be the proverbial “steal of the draft.”

Fantasy Impact:
On first blush it doesn’t appear as if the rookie running back class of 2009 will have the same impact—or opportunity—as the much-ballyhooed class of 2008. That said, Moreno has the full array of skills that would allow him to walk into a significant every-down role right from the start. And it’s been demonstrated—no more effectively than last year—that rookie running back are far more likely to have an immediate impact than any other fantasy-relevant position. So unless Moreno finds himself in a situation similar to that of Rashard Mendenhall last year—where there’s already an established back blocking his path—he should be one of the first rookies off the fantasy board.

And as mouth-watering as Moreno’s initial impact is, his dynasty future holds just as much potential. There are no durability issues to be addressed, no concerns about his pass-catching (or pass protection) that will send him to the sidelines on third downs, and his ability to run between the tackles should ensure he sees plenty of goal line opportunities. He also hits the NFL with just two years of college mileage, so the potential exists for a Tomlinson-like extended run at or near the top of his position. Of course, his scheme and supporting cast will have plenty of say in the matter, but barring a serious draft-day curve ball Moreno is poised to hit the fantasy world running and keep on going.

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