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Darren McFadden: Potential Jets

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Jed Jacobsohn

Had the Oakland Raiders not selected Darren McFadden with the fourth pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, there is a possibility the Jets would have selected him instead of Vernon Gholston. McFadden certainly would have been more productive than Gholston, but his career has to be labeled a disappointment to this point. He was supposed to be a game-breaking back, one who owns low 4.3 speed in the 40. McFadden's career has been plagued by injury and inconsistency.

For one brief moment it seemed like he was putting it all together. In 2010 he gained 1,157 rushing yards on a 5.7 average and added 47 receptions for 504 yards. He did not approach that production before that point and has not since. Durability has been a major issue. He has never played a full sixteen game season and only twice has reached the low tide mark of 115 carries.

On paper there are some ways he might look like an interesting fit for the Jets to partner with Chris Ivory. Perhaps a reduced workload for the two injury-prone guys could keep them healthy. McFadden has a reputation for being a speed guy. You might think that would work in tandem with Chris Ivory's more physical style. McFadden has some receiving skills, which Ivory does not. McFadden also has an interesting past with quarterbacks coach/Wildcat pointman David Lee. Lee was McFadden's college offensive coordinator at the University of Arkansas. That Arkansas team really put the Wildcat on the map in big-time college football, and McFadden was the trigger man. Finally due to injury issues and a couple of disappointing years, McFadden would likely be cheap.

Ultimately, though, I am not a fan bringing McFadden aboard. There are a couple of issues. The health is one. If you were around a year ago, you might remember me talking about how the Jets had so little cap space heading into the offseason that they would have to bank on talented guys who were cheap because they were in some way defective. That isn't the case this year. The Jets will have cap room to spend. They can do better.

Mainly, though, I just don't think McFadden would be a good fit for the system. Marty Mornhinweg is a guy with a reputation for using a lot of zone blocking runs. It looked to me like he did with the Jets. If you aren't familiar, zone blocking runs are different from man blocking runs. As the names might suggest, on man blocking runs, th* blockers are assigned a man. On zone blocking runs, blockers are responsible for a given area or zone. Man blocking runs are designed to go to one very specific area. The back knows where he is going and generally is supposed to hit the hole as fast as possible because the blocks are designed to open a specific hole. Zone plays are usually longer to develop. The back has to be patient. Since the blockers are assigned to an area, it isn't always clear at the snap where the holes will develop. Sometimes the blockers have to respond to what the defense does. The back's job is to wait and find the hole that develops. It requires patience and vision.

Those are two qualities McFadden does not have. The Raiders tried zone blocking with McFadden in 2012, and it was a disaster. This just does not look like a fit.

I'll leave it up to you. Do you agree? Would you sign him?

We're going to try something new with this series this year. We are going to crowdsource contracts of potential free agents. If you do want a guy, tell us below what is the best contract you would give to him.