Sobo's Players of Interest #2: Steve Slaton

Jamal Lewis won't last forever, despite what the 2007 season seemed to indicate. With the Browns needing some long-term answers at running back, the Mountaineer could be a fit. Here's Brent Sobleski's view of Slaton, along with thoughts from NFL Scout Tom Marino and Draft Analyst Chris Steuber.

Steve Slaton RB West Virginia

Sobo's Take: Few prospects have slid down the prospect lists in this year's draft as far as Steve Slaton. Once considered a first round talent, the Mountaineer is now firmly entrenched as a mid round prospect.

What originally signaled Slaton as potential first rounder, and what still makes him enticing in the mid rounds? Explosion.

Slaton possesses a legit 4.4 forty yard dash at a rock solid 200 pounds. As a track star in high school, the speedy back ran a 10.7 second 100 meter. Concerns for NFL scouts stem from a lackluster junior campaign, his ability to run between the tackles, and how much the vaunted West Virginia read option played to his strengths.

Despite the success of Rich Rodriquez's offense, Slaton's numbers dipped from 1836 yards and 25 touchdowns as a sophomore to 1053 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior. Some of this was due to injury, some due to reps being taken away with talented young depth behind Slaton.

Here's how Slaton described himself on his personal website: "I have great speed and field vision. I'm also really strong. I love playing running back and I've been playing it my whole life. I have the speed, elusiveness and strength. I'd like to run over linemen more and be a more powerful runner." 

The bottom link: At this time, the early entrant to the draft would be considered a third down back at the next level with some potential to become a starting running back.

Tom Marino, NFL Scout: A patient runner with subtle moves, who showed the ability to read blocks and react (very good feel). "Quick" rather then fast, although has the speed to get the corner. Liked his ability to see the backside cutback. Confident pass catcher who can adjust catch the ball down the field. Not as elusive as expected (more of a 1 cut and go guy), but judges distances well. Production has declined over the last three seasons which is a concern, but is a steady dependable back. Rd # 3

Chris Steuber, Draft Analyst: After a bit of a down year at West Virginia last season, Slaton decided to forego his senior season. He had a great sophomore season, but didn't have the same explosion this past year. He will have to show good speed and quickness during drills and show scouts that he's strong enough to be a featured back.

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