The NFL Scouting Combine is the best place for athletes with NFL aspirations to show their intangibles on a one-on-one basis, and Joseph Addai, a 6-foot-0, 214-pound running back from Louisiana State, wowed scouts with his blazing 4.40 40-yard dash time.
Addai's time was second to only California-Los Angeles' Maurice Drew at the running back position. His peak performance in the combine catapulted his draft stock into a late first-round selection by the Indianapolis Colts.
Addai, who will turn 23 before the season starts, was born in Houston and redshirted his 2001 freshman year. He had a great freshman season in 2002, as he rushed 80 times for 438 yards and four touchdowns. He led the team with a 5.5 yards-per-rush average, ahead of now Houston Texans running back Domanick Davis (4.8 yards per rush) and would-be Jacksonville Jaguars running back LaBrandon Toefield (4.1).
Addai regressed slightly his sophomore season, as he rushed 114 times for 520 yards (4.6) and just two touchdowns. He was overshadowed that season by running back Justin Vincent who went on a tear with 154 carries for 1,001 yards (6.5) and 10 touchdowns. However, Addai broke out his junior year to show his versatility with 680 yards rushing on 101 carries (6.7) and three touchdowns as well as 26 catches for 294 yards with four scores.
His most extensive work came this past season when he rushed for 911 yards on 187 carries (4.9) and nine touchdowns; he added 20 catches for 180 yards and one score. This was his first season in which he had the most carries of the carousel of running backs that come through LSU. He capped his senior year with a big performance in LSU's 40-3 drubbing over Miami (Fla.) in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. He rushed 24 times for 130 yards and one touchdown while adding a touchdown reception.
Addai is a versatile running back with good size and the ability to break tackles. He has good hands out of the backfield, and he can run in between the tackles as well. He has impressive speed to run outside, and he fights for extra yardage. The team also considered him the best blocker among their running backs this past season.
At the combine, he had the best vertical jump at 38 1/2 inches at his position, and his 10-foot-5 broad jump measure was also tops among running backs.
Addai has never had to carry the load of an offense. Many think he only saw such extensive action this past year because running back Alley Broussard suffered a season-ending knee injury before the season started.
While Addai proved he could be a feature running back in his senior year, he was also sharing the load with Vincent. While he can run in between the tackles, he is not a bruiser.
Addai has a history of nagging injuries including an ankle injury that aggravated him for the final month of his senior season. A sprained medial lateral ligament in his left knee hampered him in 2003, and he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in high school as well as again in 2001.
Starved for a running back after the departure of Edgerrin James to the Arizona Cardinals, the Colts found themselves looking at Dominic Rhodes as their starting tailback. Holding the No. 30 overall selection, Indianapolis' brass felt that was the best time to draft Addai to be their future at the position.
He figures to be the Opening Day starter and be spelled by Rhodes as he acclimates himself to the speed of the pro game. Addai is a marquee addition to fantasy teams as a No. 3 back, and his single-year value may be greater than that of New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush due to being a great fit for the Indianapolis offense.
About Ryan Dodson
Dodson is a KFFL Contributor and has been with KFFL since 2002.
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