The Cardinals added Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor in the fifth round Saturday. It wasn’t a surprise — the Cards figured to add a back. It is interesting who they picked though. Taylor, Stanford’s all-time leading rusher, has a reputation for being durable. The Cards’ top two backs, Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams, cannot make that claim. Neither one has played full season the past two years. Williams has only played four games in two years. Mendenhall has to prove he can be effective full time again.
None of this means Taylor is about to walk into the starting lineup. He is a fifth-round pick. Now, that tends to mean less at running back these days. Plenty of third-day picks turn into rookie running back starters. Taylor is a three-down back, a guy who is a willing and able pass blocker. Bruce Arians has made it clear that’s something he wants in the backfield. Taylor is a between-the-tackles runner who doesn’t have great speed, but one scouting report mentioned he is more football player than athlete. In this case, that’s what the Cards want.
“It’s a perfect situation for me,” Taylor said.
I mentioned to Williams yesterday the Cards were likely to take a back (especially after letting LaRod Stephens-Howling leave). He shrugged his shoulders. He knows that’s how the league works. If he performs — and again, he believes he is more focused and better off than his first two years — he’ll win his time. If not, the Cards have an alternative. And with Mendenhall on a one-year contract anyway, the running back group still doesn’t have a ton of long-term clarity yet.
UPDATE: And the Cardinals added Clemson running back Andre Ellington in the sixth. Ellington is smaller (5-9, 199) but he can pass block too and can return kicks. It will make for a very, very interesting time at running back going into training camp.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor
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