Jahvid Best’s Size Concerns Put to Rest

Over the last couple of weeks the Lions have gotten some rave draft reviews.  All the experts love what they’ve done in the offseason, both in free agency and the draft, but one player keeps coming up.  Jahvid Best.  Each comment goes something along the line of, “Jahvid Best is a gamebreaker, but the Li0ns will have to find creative ways to get him the ball because he’s not an every down back.”

There are two contributing factors to the belief that Jahvid Best can’t handle a full workload, his injury history and his size.  Best has the unfortunate distinction of having the greatest injury highlight reel in college football.  There was the de-cleating hit against Maryland where he was clocked while in a defenseless position.  The hit resulted in a 45 second stretch laying on the ground capped with a close up of Best puking Gatorade.  The other was the infamous concussion against Oregon St.  Best hurdled over a player trying to tackle him low.  While he was in mid air, and obviously in the end zone, his legs were taken out from under him and he crashed to the ground.  He landed on the back of his head and neck after a five foot fall.  Both of these plays have something in common other than millions of hits on YouTube, they won’t happen in the NFL.

Both hits would have been penalized in the NFL, along with substantial fines and a suspension.  The NCAA hasn’t cracked down on late hits and usually it’s the team that imposes discipline.  The penalties are much stiffer in the NFL, and the frequency of those hits is drastically reduced.

The other contributing factor to the belief that Best is a change of pace back comes from his “size.”  Best is referred to as undersized by many, and while he does have a small frame, he checked in at the combine at 5’10” 199 lbs.  The combine is actual height and weight unlike NFL and NCAA listings which are submitted by the teams.  Best was weighed and measured in shorts in front of all the scouts, so the height and weight are accurate.  CJ Spiller came in at 5’11” 196 lbs., an inch taller and three lbs. lighter.  Yet Spiller isn’t viewed as a situational back or concerns about him holding up to NFL wear and tear.  In fact, one analyst opined that the Lions would have to use Best in the same way the Chiefs will use Dexter McCluster.  McCluster was 5’9″ 176 lbs. at the combine, 23 lbs. lighter than Best.

Chris Johnson weighed in at 5’11” 197 lbs., Ray Rice was 5’8″ 199 lbs., Felix Jones was 5’10” 207 lbs and Maurice Jones-Drew was 5’7″ 206 lbs.  All four are starting running backs in the NFL that have experienced success.  Warrick Dunn played his whole career at around 180 lbs. and held up just fine and Marshall Faulk and Barry Sanders had Hall of Fame careers at 208 lbs.

Best will have the benefit of being in an NFL lifting program for the first time and he should add at least five pounds before the season starts.  By this time next year, Best will be in the 210-215 range which is the NFL average weight for the running back position. 

People also need to factor in the “Barry Sanders Effect” when evaluating Jahvid Best.  Barry rarely took a clean hit from any defender because of his uncanny vision and agility.  When Barry got tackled, people were hanging on for dear life and dragging him down rather than lowering their shoulders and unloading on him.  Barry’s smaller frame made it much harder to hit him squarely as well.  Brandon Jacobs is the biggest back in the NFL at 6’4″ 264 lbs. and he’s been one of the more injury prone players at his position.  As a running back the larger you are, the more hits you take which obviously increases the odds of injury.

Best can be a full time running back in the NFL.  He will add some bulk to his frame and it shouldn’t affect his speed or quickness, his running style helps him avoid big hits which reduces the amount of punishment he takes and his injury history is exaggerated because of the publicity he got.  I do agree with the experts in the regard that the Lions need to find creative ways of using him, not to minimize his risk of injury, but to maximize his talents and contributions to the team.

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30 Responses to “Jahvid Best’s Size Concerns Put to Rest”

  1. Jesse Parker says:

    Great article! Couldn’t agree more.

  2. Digitz says:

    Finally, someone other than me thinks this way. People sometimes just need to jump on the bandwagons and can’t think rationally on their own. I just grew tired of arguing this with friends. Great story !

  3. Jeremy says:

    I agree with most of your article, and I don’t think Best’s size will be a major drawback to his game. But do you really think that hit he took against Maryland would be flagged/fined/suspension material. Because as I look at it, it doesn’t look late, or dirty in the least. Looks like a perfectly read play and a perfect form tackle to me.


    • Jeremy-

      The hit against Maryland wasn’t a cheap shot or dirty, but the defender launched himself at a defenseless receiver. The NFL Competition Committee just installed a new rule a couple months ago that does not allow those types of hits anymore.

  4. Ken says:

    Great Article, I will now be following your site.

    Can’t wait to see him play for Detroit.

  5. Don says:

    I am just wondering Who it is that keeps bringing up these issues on weather or not Best will be able to hold up?
    Ya Think that maybe a few of our Rival TEAMS Fans Might have something to do with all of the Questions about Best?
    In a sort of Belittling Way?
    Well all of the questioning is comming from somewhere.

  6. Tiger Hebert says:

    Excellent article, and I totally agree with all your points. I do not believe he is injury prone or any such thing, they were freak injuries, they had nothing to do with the way he takes care of his body.

    However, staying healthy will still be the only thing that can slow him down in the NFL, it will not be the defenders. This is because Detroit seems to have a penchant for have a full roster on the injury report every year. I do believe this is all a thing of the past though.

    Onward and upward, go Lions.

  7. Dlloyd says:

    The whole idea about Best not being available for full time duty is hogwash from the start. Detroit needed a back in the worst way so they went out and got Best (Sorry). The scheme will tell the entire story about this player not the bubbleheads that continue to doubt.

  8. Matt in HB says:

    Barry Sanders — 5’8″ and 205 lbs
    Emmitt Smith — 5’9″ and 210 lbs

    Durability may very well turn out to be an issue for Best, who knows. But, his size seems like a non-issue.

  9. De Latnie says:

    Great Article!!..Jahvid will be a pro bowler when the Lions solidify their line.

  10. ajmojo says:

    Walter Payton
    5′ 10″
    200 lbs

    Barry, Emmit, Walter…all basically the same size. His size is not an issue at all…durability is yet to be determined.

  11. Joe says:

    I’ve been saying this about “undersized” running back prospects for years, and guys like Chris Johnson, LaDanian Tomlinson, Curtis Martin, Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, and Walter Payton continue to make the “undersized” label seem ridiculous. When will the scouts figure it out? Best could be the next to make them look stupid. I hope so!

  12. Zac says:

    this article started off so well, but really do you have any idea what its like to put on weight or even camparing weights.

    jahvid is a lean back, something like chris johnson or even a marshall faulk if you want to say that, but dont try to instile hope by comparing his body to ray rice/felix jones or MJD and especially barry sanders or emmitt smith. the last 3 had enormous lower bodies, and were built pretty thick.

    now as for saying hes going to gain 5 pounds before the season is stupid. there is no way in hell he will put on 5 pounds before the season and if he does he will lose 8-10 pounds through training camp. putting on weight is not as easy as working out with professionals. it takes hard work, strong commitment and sometimes luck. some one like jahvid will probably have a hard time putting more weight on his lean frame. at best he may gain 9lbs before his sophmore season but maybe not even until his 3rd season.

    however i do agree with you using these other running backs as light at the end of the tunnel. im a strong believer that it doesnt matter how tall you are or how much you may means anything in the NFL, it all comes down to talent and heart.

    • Zac-

      Actually, I have a great idea what it’s like to put on weight and comparing weights. My friend is a personal trainer for firemen, a couple area football players and a few semi-pro players.

      I understand he has a leaner lower body than some of the guys I compared him to but he has a frame that can add weight. It doesn’t matter how his weight is distributed, it just matters that he weighs enough to absorb some of the hits. It’s all about inertia, he needs to have enough body mass so he doesn’t get knocked off balance and when he collides with defenders he’s not the one absorbing all the force of the impact.

      I’m not sure what your qualifications are to tell me I’m wrong about his ability to gain weight, but I stand by my statement he can gain 5 lbs before the season.

      He had limited hours he could train in college, and no nutritionist and no money to eat the best foods. He has nothing to do but workout for the next three months while working with the team nutritionist and the money to afford healthy food.

      Kevin Jones added 14 lbs. after the 2004 season, Adrian Peterson added 12 lbs after the 2008 season and countless other players have added weight during offseason workouts, so it’s obviously been done before.

      Thanks for the feedback, and I will be at training camp so I will be there first hand to see how the offseason program impacts his size.

  13. Boo says:

    Best will do just fine in the NFL. With his speed and agility he will not be out to run people over. NFL analyst are always bringing up the durabilty issue with players. I remember the same being said of Adrian Peterson. I don’t think a players size means anything, its the amount of hard hits they receive through the season and thier career that breaks them down.

  14. Stuart says:

    It was a helmet to helmet hit. Of course it would of been flagged in the NFL. The college teams should contour themselves more toward the NFL.

  15. Stuart says:

    I’m 6’0″ 180… That’s lean…He’s 5’10” 200…I don’t think he will get up to 215, but the NFL will put some weight on you.I see him getting to about 203 to 207 lbs.

  16. Stuart says:

    Part of training camp is LIFTING WEIGHTS! I don’t see him losing weight.he will gain a few pounds this year if it’s only 3.

  17. Stuart says:

    It’s all up to the Lion’s on how they want him to train.The work outs are customized to each player.

  18. Zac says:

    im almost an identical size to you, i understand thats lean. but looking at jahvid, he may be 5,10 200lbs but hes still pretty lean, its his body type not his numbers. and going through training camp yeah he will put on some muscle mass, but he will definately lose weight every player does in training camp. players like to go into camp about 5 lbs over what they want to be playing at purposely. training camp is excrusiating, its not all about weight lifting its more so about getting properly conditioned mentally and physically(cardiovascular)to play come the start of the season.

    • Zac is right, players will lose weight in training camp. They lose a lot of water weight and because of the physical toll they go through their bodies don’t recoup as fast. They break down muscle tissue when they work out, but the tissue doesn’t regenerate and build up as quickly because of the amount of strain the body is under.

  19. Zac says:

    i never said he would get to 215, i agree with you 100% he may only get to a playing weight of 203 or 207.

  20. Renegade says:

    “The NFL Competition Committee just installed a new rule a couple months ago that does not allow those types of hits anymore.” So this means those type of hits won’t occur in the NFL. That’s a foolish comment. Just because it is not permitted does not mean it won’t happen. These are extrememly tough men and they sometimes play outside the rules.

    As to whether he can make it in the NFL, that’s a discussion for the next off-season.

    • I didn’t say those hits won’t happen, please don’t put words in my mouth and then insult me based on something I didn’t say.

      The NFL banned horse collar tackles several years ago and they went from occuring multiple times per week to occuring less than once per week. So yes, they will happen, but they will happen far less often which decreases the odds that they will happen to Best agin.

  21. Darrell says:

    Tony Dorsett = 5′ 11″, 192…

  22. Oakv Lion says:

    The problem people see with best is that he doesn’t break tackles. Watch the film again and see. First guy always takes him down

  23. Fridge Perry says:

    Spud Webb: 5’4, 145 pounds.

  24. […] can’t be relied on to do it himself though.  While I don’t think Best’s size or injury history will be a limitation, I do think the “rookie wall” will be.  College players play […]

  25. […] can’t be relied on to do it himself though.  While I don’t think Best’s size or injury history will be a limitation, I do think the “rookie wall” will be.  College players play 12-13 games […]

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