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Possibility at 17: Knowshon Moreno

As we head for the Draft, Gang Green Nation will take a look at some potential picks for the team. Today we will profile Knowshon Moreno, a running back from the University of Georgia.

What NFL Draft Countdown thinks:

Strengths:
Natural runner with outstanding vision and instincts...Very elusive and creative...Quick and explosive with a burst...Tough, strong and super competitive...Runs hard and will break some tackles...Decisive and hits the hole hard...Excellent balance and agility...Terrific change of direction skills...Keeps his legs moving...Can run inside and outside effectively...Great hands and runs good routes...Big play threat who'll take it the distance...Gives good effort as a blocker...Doesn't put the ball on the ground...Very productive...A hard worker and team leader.

Weaknesses:
Just average size and bulk...Below average timed speed...Will he be able to run away from people at the next level?...May not be a true workhorse runner...Aggressive running style leaves him open to quite a bit of punishment...Long-term durability might be a concern...Only has two years of experience...Bit of a jack of all trades, master of none.

What SB Nation's Mocking the Draft thinks:

Strengths: Moreno is a complete back who can play can play every down. Possesses very good speed and a second gear to burst away on the second level. Hits holes with immediacy and reads defenses well to understand where an opening is going to be at. Uses a solid stiff arm to break away from defenders. Excellent agility. Regularly made highlight reels by leaping completely over tacklers. Runs tough and likes contact. Keeps his legs moving after first contact. Very good receiver for a running back. Has the ability to split out wide.

Weaknesses: Although Moreno put on a lot of strength between his freshman and sophomore seasons, he needs to continue getting stronger, particularly in the upper body. His power running style could be a problem at the next level where opponents will be much stronger. Moreno often seeks contact instead of using his quickness and speed to work around it. Above average pass blocker, but should get better as he gains more strength.

What I think:

There is no telling how ugly the Thomas Jones contract situation will get. There is certainly a risk of things taking a negative turn in which case this team could use some insurance at running back. Even before this situation came to light, however, it would have been wise for the Jets to consider taking a back. Jones will be 31 when the season begins. At such an advanced age, decline cannot be far off. It might even occur this season. It goes downhill for some backs almost overnight.

I think Moreno would be a very sound pick as a result. This team will need to address the position soon. Knowshon is the complete package. A 40 time in excess of 4.6 at his pro day might raise some doubts about his speed, but football is not played by running 40 yards straight out of starting blocks in shorts. Moreno plays faster than his lack of track and field skills would suggest. Moreno ran for over 5 yards per carry in both of his college seasons despite facing the fastest and most athletic defenses in the country in the SEC. His elite vision helps him identify holes and cutback lanes extremely well, and he has a good burst to hit them quickly. He does not shy away from contact between the tackles and is strong enough to break tackles. His skills as a receiver make him an every down back. One of the most difficult aspects of adjusting to the pro game for most backs is pass blocking, but Knowshon is ahead of the learning curve in that department.

The way to best help a struggling quarterback is giving him a dominant running game. If Jones returns and is productive, the Jets would have an elite three man rotation at the position, and Moreno could receive guidance from Jones, a back with a similar game. If not, Moreno should be able to step right in and serve as an adequate replacement for Thomas from day one. Knowshon will never confuse anybody with Adrian Peterson, but his well-rounded game should make him a very productive starter for a long time. He would be a sound pick for the Jets in the first round.