Here’s what a couple scouts think of newly-acquired running back Tim Hightower. One of the scouts, Dave Razzano, was with Arizona in 2008 when the Cardinals drafted him in the fifth round. The other, Russ Lande, is the Sporting News’ draft expert and also analyzes NFL players. They differ a little in their excitement over Hightower.
One thing: Razzano (who will soon have a new website Therazzreport.com) said Hightower is not as good as Redskins rookie Roy Helu.
Razzano on Hightower
“He’s a solid backup. He’s not fast enough to be a front-line guy. Not a real difference maker. He’s a good kid. He’s solid. He’s durable. But he’s a backup, no better. He can catch the ball, he’s a pretty instinctive runner. Just not a lot of acceleration. He doesn’t do anything eye-catching. He doesn’t put a fear in any defense.”
Lande on Hightower
“He’s a quick back; he gets to full speed fast. He’s more of a slasher, makes that one cut and bursts through the hole. He’ll take off along the edge like Shanahan wants and as soon as he sees a crease he’ll put his foot in the ground and explode through it.
“Dave is right; ideally he’s a backup….But Shanahan, almost every back he’s had is someone that would be a backup elsewhere. When you look at Olandis Gary and guys like that and he’s won with them. You don’t need to be a great runner to be productive in his offense. That’s what Hightower can do. You can let him run the stretch play and find a crease and crack back and he’s through it."
“He’s good with blitzes. Good hands out of the backfield. He’s a tough competitive kid.”
This is a situation that will need time to straighten out a bit more. Ryan Torain, Hightower and rookie Helu could all very well see work this year. We kind of know what we're getting with Torain and Hightower, but Helu is a guy to target late in the draft with the hopes he'll eventually emerge as a guy who gets a majority of the work. If Torain is named the starter, he could be worth a mid-to-late round pick based on some success last year.