The Detroit Lions missed running back
With Best in the lineup, the Lions offense is much more dynamic and treated very differently by defenses. In 2012, the Lions ran more plays (855 of a possible 1,160) against defenses with six or fewer defenders in the box than any other team in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
With Best's future still in doubt, the Lions will certainly have their eye out for that big-play, change-of-pace back at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week .
The Lions should be able to fill this role in the middle of the draft if they don't fill it in free agency first.
Here are a few names that could fit the bill to keep an eye out for in Indianapolis this week.
Andre Ellington, 5-10, 190, Clemson
Best trait: Production
The skinny: It's too bad we only got to see Ellington for one day at the Senior Bowl before he withdrew because of a hamstring injury. In that one day, though, Ellington showed terrific speed and quickness in drills and the ability to catch the football out of the backfield. He proved to be a good kickoff return man at Clemson, which is also a need for the Lions.
Kenjon Barner, 5-11, 195, Oregon
Best trait: Big-play threat
Concern: Pass protection
The skinny: He's a touchdown waiting to happen. He averaged more than 6.0 yards per carry all four years at Oregon, but never caught more than 20 passes in any season. Has terrific speed and shiftiness, but also showed a willingness to run between the tackles down in Mobile. Barner also showed that he was a willing blocker at the Senior Bowl, which scouts wanted to see.
Giovani Bernard, 5-10, 205, North Carolina
Best trait: Hands
Concern: Torn ACL in 2010
The skinny: He was a very accomplished runner, receiver and punt returner in college. He caught 47 passes for 490 yards and five touchdowns this past year after 45 catches in 2011. He also returned 16 punts for 263 yards and two scores in 2012. He'd fit multiple roles for the Lions.
Joseph Randle, 6-1, 200, Oklahoma State
Best trait: Complete back
Concern: Doesn't have elite speed
The skinny: In a national conference call on Monday, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said Randle was a player teams could spread the field with in the passing game. He had 108 receptions in three college seasons and averaged 5.5 yards per rushing attempt.
Mike Gillislee, 5-11, 209, Florida
Best trait: Doesn't have a lot of wear and tear
The skinny: The Lions had an opportunity to coach Gillislee at the Senior Bowl and his best day of practice was Wednesday when he rattled off a couple nice runs that earned a pat on the helmet from Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. He only started his senior season at Florida, so there's not much wear and tear there. He's a downhill runner. Not real shifty, but has good speed when he gets going.
Denard Robinson, 5-11, 195, Michigan
Best trait: Speed
The skinny: This is just my opinion, but I think Robinson is better suited to play that change-of-pace running back role at the next level than receiver. He has a long way to go from a receiver standpoint from what I saw at the Senior Bowl. He's a natural runner and one of best open-field runners coming into the NFL. Elite speed.