Willie Parker: Pursue or No?

Willie Parker, an undrafted free agent who had a difficult time finding playing time on his college team, took full advantage when injuries forced him into the starting lineup of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005. He started for a pair of Super Bowl winners in Pittsburgh. His 75 touchdown run was good for a Super Bowl record long against the Seahawks. In his best season as a pro a year later, Parker ran for 1,494 yards, a 4.4 average, and 13 touchdowns. His production has slipped since that year as he has been dogged by injuries and subpar run blocking.

Nicknamed "Fast Willie," Parker's game is speed. He reportedly ran a 4.2 40 coming out of college. Some backs like Maurice-Jones Drew play bigger than a small frame. Parker is not one of them. At 5'10" and 209 pounds, Parker doesn't break too many tackles or try to run around people. He tries to hit his holes. For a small back, he's not as good of a receiver as you might expect but is a surprisingly good pass blocker.

Injuries again are a concern. In the past three years, a broken leg and knee and toe injuries have forced him to miss extended time. His average since 2008 is under 4 yards per carry.

I still think Parker would be a good fit. His price will be a relative bargain because of the ailments and diminished results on the field. I think the Jets could cure both. A big part of his decline has been Pittsburgh's run blocking. The Steelers have had a below average line since Alan Faneca left. He doesn't run with enough authority to survive without a strong front. The Jets' offensive line would give him the room he needs to operate. Once he finds an opening, he can break big gains. As the third back, Gang Green could limit his carries to keep him fresh. He could be an insurance policy for Shonn Greene and Leon Washington and help replace what the team lost in Thomas Jones as a pass blocker. It seems like he would be a good guy to have.

I vote pursue.

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