In week 9 of the 2007 NFL season, Ryan Grant helped lead the Green Bay Packers to a 34-0 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The game was supposed to be another highlight show by stud Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, but Peterson left the game due to an injury.
The Packers are now 8-1, a far cry from what they were predicted to do this season. Many of the negative predictions on the Packers season were due to their lack of a reliable running game. Green Bay has been searching for a rushing attack all season, although it hasn’t stopped them from winning games. Undrafted free agent Ryan Grant started today’s game after showing some promise in the last game. He finished with 25 carries for 119 yards (a 4.8 yards per carry average) and one touchdown on a 30 yard run.
Is Ryan Grant the answer to the Packers running back needs? It’s way too early to say that, but the NFL has proven before that you do not have to be a highly drafted running back to make an impact in the league. Jets and Patriots running back Curtis Martin was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft and will most likely go to the hall-of-fame. Denver Broncos great Terrell Davis was drafted in the fifth round of the 1995 NFL Draft and had some of the most productive seasons ever in the league. The Cowboys have found a great young back in Marion Barber and he was drafted in the 4th round of the 2005 draft. But, what about undrafted running backs?
Two running backs got the start this week and have had successful careers but were also not drafted in the NFL Draft.
Priest Holmes, Kansas City Chiefs
Holmes is coming back from injuries and gets the start in place of an injured Larry Brown for the Chiefs. Until the Seahawks‘ Shaun Alexander (and then later LaDainian Tomlinson of the Chargers) broke his record, Priest Holmes had scored more rushing touchdowns in one season than anyone in history.
Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers
“Fast Willie” has come out of nowhere (okay, really out of the University of North Carolina) and been a nice featured back for the Pittsburgh Steelers since his second season. He has two 1,000+ yard seasons and even made the Pro Bowl in 2006.
With all the advances in scouting these days, it is harder to find that diamond in the rough during the NFL Draft than it used to be. But, they’re still out there – and hey, Ryan Grant could be the next star running back to have been passed on by every team in the NFL Draft.