If you’ve read this blog over the last few months, you know I’ve written on more than one occasion that I am a Chris “Beanie” Wells fan. I realize I’m in the minority, especially among Eagles fans, but I have no problem standing up for players I like.
With this in mind, I’d like to clear up some of the common misconceptions regarding Wells’ game. Now, I’m not about to defend his abilities in the receiving department. Fifteen career catches is nothing to get excited about. However, I’m not projecting him to be an Eagle, so his hands are of no concern to me. To be fair, the Buckeyes rarely throw to their running backs. It’s just not part of Jim Tressel’s system.
What about his durability? I keep hearing and reading that Wells was injury prone at Ohio State. Not true. He missed only 3 games, all in 2008, in his collegiate career. He also played hurt and was still effective. In three seasons, he never averaged less than 5.5 ypc. He ran for 100+ yards in 17 of 23 starts over the last two years.
Okay, he played some awful Big 10 defenses, but he dominated those teams like elite backs should. He also saved his best performances for spotlight games.
2007 – Wisconsin – 21 carries, 169 yards, 3 TDs
2007 – @ Michigan – 39 carries, 222 yards, 2 TDs
2008 – LSU – 20 carries, 146 yards, 1 TD (BCS Championship Game)
2008 – @ Mich. State – 31 carries, 140 yards, 2 TDs
2008 – Texas – 16 carries, 106 yards (Fiesta Bowl)
If you don’t believe Wells will be a good NFL back, that’s okay. But please stop comparing him to Tony Hunt. Hunt was a reach pick in the 3rd round and he was never projected to be a 1st round stud back. He was slower than Wells and not nearly as talented or strong. Hunt was a straight-line runner with suspect feet. Wells moves incredibly well for a guy his size and has home run ability.
A better comparsion would be Jamal Lewis, a former 2000 yard rusher. Their styles are very similar. If Wells follows Lewis’ career path – minus the jail time – he’ll more than live up to his draft status. Most of us can agree Wells will not be an Eagle, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a quality running back. I still think whoever drafts him will be getting a franchise back for the next 7-8 years.