One of the "sneaky" needs for the Houston Texans in the draft was finding another running back who could provide insurance in case Arian Foster and Andre Brown get injured (again). Between those ever-present health concerns for both backs, Brown only being on a one-year deal, and Foster’s contract getting increasingly "cuttable" with each passing season, an argument could have been made to take a running back as high as 33rd overall. Instead of grabbing the Texans’ third running back early, however, Bill O’Brien and Rick Smith plucked one on day three with former LSU Tiger Alfred Blue. I talked to Billy Gomila of SB Nation’s resident LSU blog, And The Valley Shook, to get some familiarity with Arian Foster’s newest backup.
1. What does Alfred Blue bring to an NFL locker room?
Blue was very respected in the LSU locker room as a hard worker that played a lot of football here. He was a valuable special teams player, as a tackler and as a blocker on kickoff returns.
2. After an unfortunate ACL tear in 2012, Blue got stuck behind Jeremy Hill in 2013. In terms of talent, where would you rank Blue among other running backs in this class like Tre Mason, Carlos Hyde, and the aforementioned Hill?
Unfortunately, Blue never really seemed to quite return to form from that ACL tear, and I'd put him near the back of the pack in this particular class. That said, if he can find the form he showed in the first few games of 2012 he has the potential to contribute.
3. What would you say is Blue's greatest strength?
Blue is the classic one-cut slasher, at home in a zone-blocking offense. As I wrote in his draft evaluation, he has good vision to make the right cuts, and when he gets in the open field he can accelerate away from defenders. He's also a good blocker in the passing game and showed the ability to be a solid receiver as well.
4. Greatest weakness?
Overall, Blue is kind of a jack of all trades, master of none. When 2013 opened, he really struggled to find his 2012 form. He seemed to run tentatively, and couldn't run through contact as well as he had before. Now, maybe with time that'll improve, but once Jeremy Hill returned from his suspension, Blue never really got a chance to show off again.
5. How would you grade the selection of Alfred Blue at 181st overall?
Oddly enough, Blue actually fits the Texans quite well, provided they're still using the zone/stretch blocking style that made Arian Foster a star. That plays to Blue's strengths and is might be why Blue was graded a little higher than some other teams might have.
I find it particularly interesting that Bill O’Brien opted to select another "slashing" running back to go with the two one-cut runners he already has on the roster. Are the Texans setting themselves up to continue prioritizing zone blocking in their running game? If they want to get the absolute best out of their franchise running back, I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the plan. Thanks again to And The Valley Shook for taking the time to answer our questions. With any luck, Blue will become the latest "diamond in the rough" running back to find success on the Texans.