The Brian Westbrook era in Philadelphia came to a close this offseason, after the Eagles decided to release their former All-Pro running back. And, with Westbrook no longer in the picture, the Eagles will roll out a three-headed monster approach to the ground game this season with second-year sensation LeSean McCoy, ultra-productive fullback Leonard Weaver and free agent acquisition Mike Bell leading the way.
But with Bell on a one-year deal, the Eagles will likely look for a dynamic runner - in the mold of a Westbrook – during this year's draft. Don't expect the Eagles to spend a high-round selection on a running back, but it appears that they have identified a diamond in the rough at the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) level, which is the same level Westbrook came from at Villanova.
Scout.com has learned that the Eagles worked out Southern Illinois running back Deji Karim on March 31st and that they will also bring him to Philadelphia for a visit on April 6th and 7th.
A former JUCO standout, Karim had a breakout senior campaign for the Salukis this past season; his first year as a starter. He missed the entire 2008 season with a knee injury, but emerged this past year and had 240 carries for 1,694 yards and 18 touchdowns. Karim is also a dynamic receiver out of the backfield and caught 17 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown.
Karim participated in the Texas vs. The Nation Game and put together a solid week of practice. He showed his versatility as a runner and a receiver, and impressed scouts with his burst. His burst and explosion are what scouts are so intrigued with, and he displayed those skills at the Northwestern and Southern Illinois Pro Days.A Scouting Combine snub, the 5-foot-9, 209-pound Karim put together one of the best individual workouts of the offseason. He amazed scouts with his 4.40 speed in the 40, 43-inch vertical and 10-foot-3-inch broad jump. There are some who will confuse Karim with being a scat back, but don't let his size fool you – he also benched 225 pounds 19 times in front of scouts at his Pro Day.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: email@example.com. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.