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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Is Jeremy Langord Matt Forte's Long Term Replacement?

Ryan Pace's first draft as the Chicago Bears' GM was solid and steady, if not spectacular.

The best player available philosophy tends to be employed by teams who have several holes in their roster. The thought process is that new GMs and head coaches of John Fox's ilk have one or two drafts left to rectify things before job security becomes a term that is brought into the lexicon.

We can't argue with Kevin White or Eddie Goldman with the first two picks but once you slip into the third and fourth round, things begin to get ambiguous. Less is known about the players selected in these rounds and question marks surround their ability. If they were really that good, would they have dropped so far? Is it because the value of the position(such as running back) has dropped in recent years? Is the player scheme specific? In Jeremy Langford's case, the answer might be that he fell into the Bears arms in the fourth round as expected and he will be a Bear for a long time to come.

Matt Forte's Replacement

The Chicago Bears are in the comfortable position of having a star running back to hinge their offence on. Matt Forte, undoubtedly, has been one of the most underrated running backs in the league for the better part of a decade. His decline isn't far away, at 29 years of age, and with his contract situation, he just might have one more contract elsewhere in him before hanging up his cleats.

Langford is a project that John Fox will try to turn into a starting running back in the NFL. He uses his hands well and has a lean, long frame that is similar in ways to Forte's. There were other players on the board when the Bears selected Langford such as Jay Ajayi and David Cobb but the Bears, Fox and Pace had an eye on Langford as a long term starter to fit into their long term plan.


When you look at Langford in the video above, you really do get a sense that he could be the next Matt Forte. What Langford lacks in elusiveness and technique, he more than makes up for in speed, acceleration and ball-handling. He is also versatile and has very good receiving skills having played their previously for MSU.

If Langford can improve his tackle breaking ability and willingness to punish defenders at the end of runs, he could become a lead back in the NFL and it was with that hope that the Bears selected him ahead of other players in the draft.

Langford might not feature a huge amount this upcoming year but he will get enough reps to learn and improve heading into the following season when he could project as a starter.

Matt Waldman's Ranking System

For anyone who wants to really understand how to grade a player, you should probably reading Matt Waldman's work. According to his Rookie Scouting Portfolio, the things he rates running backs on are power, balance, ball handling, speed, acceleration, vision, elusiveness, blocking, receiving, durability.

He then breaks them down in star calibre, starter calibre, committee calibre, reserve calibre, free agent calibre and deficient.

Langford graded in committee calibre for all but ball-handling (starter), speed (star), acceleration (starter), durability (star) and elusiveness (reserve).

His elusiveness is a problem and it is something that he didn't need to rely on based on his speed and ability to make it to the edge at college level. There are certainly enough tools there to work this player into a starter when Forte leaves Chicago, even it is as the number one guy in a three running back committee or as the one in a one-two punch.

Matt Forte does everything well and he does everything well consistently. Langford will be looking or the same consistency while helping out on special teams early in his career. This might be the different between Langford, Carey and veteran Jacquizz Rodgers when it is time to decide on roster spots and depth chart moves.


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