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NFL Rookie Watch: 6th-Round Runners Lache Seastrunk, Marion Grice & Tyler Gaffney
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2 Jun 2014 05:12 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Lache Seastrunk averaged 7.7 yards per carry in 2013. (Image Source: Getty Images)

Here’s a breakdown of three sixth-round sleepers at the running back position:

1. Washington Redskins (No. 186 overall): Lache Seastrunk, Baylor:

Why He Fell: He made a living as a big-play speed back (five TDs runs of 68-plus yards) in college but is not as fleet of foot as one needs to be to play that way in the NFL. He didn’t time as well as expected in the 40-yard dash (4.51). Seastrunk is also undersized (5’9” & 201 pounds) for an NFL back and he lacks experience as a pass catcher.

Skill Set: Highly-touted coming out of high school, Seastrunk excelled in his two seasons at Baylor: Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year in 2012 and led the conference in rushing yards per game (107) in 2013. He has one of the most explosive first steps (41.5” vertical jump, 11’2” broad jump) of any running back in this class.

How He Fits: While he never shared the same backfield as Robert Griffin III, Seastrunk played in the same offense and should be able to fit in seamlessly when Washington goes to the spread attack. He’ll push Roy Helu for carries behind starter Alfred Morris

2. San Diego Chargers (No. 201 overall): Marion Grice, Arizona State:

Why He Fell: In terms of measurables, nothing pops out about Grice. He does have good length (6’0”), however lacks the bulk (208 pounds) to go along with it. An injury prevented Grice from performing at the NFL Scouting Combine. At his personal pro day in early April, Grice underwhelmed with a 32” vertical jump and a 40-yard dash in the mid-4.6 range. As a college rusher, Grice rarely flashed the ability to run with power.

Skill Set: He’s an exceptional pass catcher with great hands, long arms (32”) and the ability to run crisp routes. Grice has good vision and understands how to set up tacklers. He can make defenders miss in the open field.

How He Fits: With Danny Woodhead already backing up Ryan Matthews in San Diego, it will be tough for Grice to make much of an impact as a rookie. Long-term, he’s blessed with the tools to be an excellent third-down back.

3. Carolina Panthers (No. 204 overall): Tyler Gaffney, Stanford:

Why He Fell: To be honest, it’s a head scratcher as to why Gaffney lasted so long. Sure, he wasn’t much of a big-play threat at Stanford but his 4.49 40-time was solid. Other than his short arms, small hands and poor broad jump, Gaffney had a very impressive NFL Scouting Combine. He’s not much of an open-field runner.

Skill Set: At 220 pounds, Gaffney has excellent size and he’s a proven power runner between the tackles. He was a very productive ball carrier at Stanford thanks in large part to his patience, which allowed the offensive line to open up holes. He’s also quicker than given credit for, posting a 6.78 three-cone time, a drill geared towards measuring a running back’s ability to cut and change directions in close quarters.  

How He Fits: Carolina’s big back, Jonathan Stewart, has seen his carries decline for four straight seasons from 221 rushes in 2009 to just 48 a year ago (in six games). So even if Gaffney starts the season third or fourth on the depth chart, he will likely get his chance this season. In addition, the Panthers use an unconventional fullback in former running back Mike Tolbert, so if Gaffney proves he can handle blocking duties he could find himself in the backfield at the same time as DeAngelo Williams.

NFL Draft Columns:

NFL Rookie Watch: Johnny Manziel| 2nd-Rd Studs | 3rd-Rd Steals | 4th-Rd WRs | 4th-Rd Sleepers | 5th-Rd Sleepers

First Round Pick-by-Pick Analysis: Picks 1-5 | Picks 6-10| Picks 11-15| Picks 16-20 | Picks 21-26| Picks 27-32

Green Bay Packers Off the Clock: Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama | Wide Receiver Davante Adams, Fresno | Defensive Tackle Khyri Thornton, USM | Tight End Richard Rodgers, Cal | Outside Linebacker Carl Bradford, ASU | Wide Receiver Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin| Center Corey Linsley, Ohio State | Cornerback Demetri Goodson, Baylor

New York Giants Off the Clock: Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr., LSU | Center Weston Richburg, Colorado State| Defensive Tackle Jay Bromley, Syracuse | Running Back Andre Williams, BC| Strong Safety Nat Berhe, San Diego State| Outside Linebacker Devon Kennard, USC | Cornerback Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame | Tight End Xavier Grimble, USC| Defensive Tackle Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina | Safety C.J. Barnett, Ohio State

New York Jets Off the Clock: Safety Calvin Pryor, Louisville | Tight End Jace Amaro, Texas Tech| Cornerback Dexter McDougle, Maryland| Wide Receiver Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma| Wide Receiver Shaq Evans, UCLA| Offensive Lineman Dakota Dozier, Furman | Inside Linebacker Jeremiah George, ISU | Cornerback Brandon Dixon, NW Missouri St. | Wide Receiver Quincy Enunwa, Nebraska | Outside Linebacker IK Enemkpali, La. Tech| Quarterback Tajh Boyd, Clemson | Outside Linebacker Trevor Reilly, Utah | 2014 NFL Draft Review

Seahawks Off the Clock: Second-Round Pick WR Paul Richardson, Colorado

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. You can reach him via email: danmogollon@gmail.com.

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