Auburn Tigers product Tre Mason could very well be the best running back in the 2014 NFL Draft class, but he has strong competition from Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde and former Arizona star Ka’Deem Carey. Mason had strong numbers as the team’s feature back last season, and he had equally impressive 40 times of 4.44 and 4.50. He is expected to go in the late second round or early third round, but I’m sure a few teams will hope that he slides into the fourth. The running back picture is still cloudy, but Mason has the talent to be a feature back in the NFL and could be the top back this year.
Although the “who meets who” part of the Combine isn’t that important since almost everyone meets everyone, it’s still serves as an interesting talking point. Sometimes it does end up amounting to something, as the Denver Broncos spent a lot of time with Tim Tebow before drafting him.
According to the Nashville Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt, Mason stated that he met with the Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, and St. Louis Rams at the Combine. All of those teams could potentially draft him, but two of those teams make more sense than the others. Below is a quick breakdown of how Mason could fit these four teams.
1. Titans- With Chris Johnson an almost-certain cap casualty, the Titans would have a massive need at the running back position which would be filled by drafting Mason and adding another RB. His frame, speed, agility, strength, and college production make him a possible feature back, but he needs to improve his vision and pass protection badly in order to be an every-down back. Mason should be able to get there, though, and he might be the Titans best option in this draft.
2. Cardinals- Rashard Mendenhall is nothing more than a plodder at this point, so the Cardinals should strongly consider upgrading him as their primary ball-carrier, since they are worried that Andre Ellington won’t be able to handle too many touches due to his frame and injury risk. Ellington is a star in the making who should get the ball as much as possible, but the Cards would still be wise to draft a more powerful RB in order to create a strong duo in the backfield.
3. Dolphins- The Dolphins biggest need is undoubtedly on the offensive line, as they have major holes at both guard and tackle. Lamar Miller has a high draft pedigree and a great deal of upside, and he would have been productive last season with better blocking. Quite frankly, the Dolphins blocking was piss-poor, and I don’t even think a more established back would have had success running behind the pathetic blocking that Miller received. That said, adding another RB to the mix would help, especially since I don’t have high hopes for Daniel Thomas, even though Mike Sherman somehow did (but Sherman was also horrible).
4. Rams- Zac Stacy is locked in as the feature back, and there’s no doubt that he can lead a team’s rushing attack. I mean, he basically led the Rams offense last season. Daryl Richardson looks like a nice backup, but there are still questions about him. The Rams aren’t going to give up on Isaiah Pead either, and Benny Cunningham came on relatively strong last year. I don’t think the Rams need an RB, but Mason is a possibility if he falls to the fourth round. If he doesn’t, then I don’t see the point in taking him, because the Rams shouldn’t draft an RB until later on. I mean, that seems to be their M.O. anyway.