If Ka’Deem Carey ever becomes a productive NFL running back, he will be an outlier. This is something the Bears know and part of the reason why they are making him earn a job, despite being a high draft pick just a year ago.
NFL running backs usually have good size and speed, or at least one of the two. Carey has neither.
Carey had a hard time getting on the field last year, making the Bears evaluation of him difficult. He looked good in the team’s Week 4 game against the Packers, rushing for 72 yards on 14 carries, but that made up most of his production for the season. It’s easy to blame Marc Trestman for that, but it’s just as likely that Phil Emery drafted a dud. Their replacements need to figure out what he is, but the early indications are that they don’t like the player.
Ryan Pace and John Fox are familiar with players like Carey and it’s something they’ve avoided. In his time in Carolina and Denver, Fox’s teams only drafted two running backs who weighed under 210 pounds, both ran 40-yard dashes in under 4.55 seconds. (Carey weighs 207 and never ran better than 4.69.) The average weight of the running backs his teams drafted was 220 pounds with an average 40-yard dash time of 4.51 seconds. The running backs the Saints have drafted in recent years are a bit smaller, with an average weight of 208 pounds, but they had an average 40 time of 4.44 seconds.
Pace and Fox are responsible for adding three of the six running backs on the Bears roster. Only one — Daniel Thomas — failed to run a 40-yard dash time better than 4.55 seconds, but he’s 230 pounds. The average weight of the running backs on the roster outside of Carey is 211 pounds and the 40-yard dash time is 4.48 seconds.
There are a few slow times in the group. Montee Ball ran a 4.66 40 at the combine, but came back with a 4.51 at his pro day. Mark Ingram had a 4.66 at the combine, but followed it with a 4.53 and Jacquizz Rodgers had a 4.7 at the combine, but, like the others, significantly improved it with a 4.52 at his pro day. Carey didn’t just have a bad time, he ran a 4.69 at the combine and proved his slothness with a 4.72 at his pro day.
The Bears want good football players above all else, but size and speed are almost always important ingredients in making a good player.
Carey has a chance to make the team, but he’ll need to prove the Bears that the speed he plays at doesn’t match the speed he timed at. He has to not only play special teams, but become good at it. The Bears are probably going to keep four running backs, Forte and 2015 third-rounder Jeremy Langford are locks. Free agent signee Jacquizz Rodgers is a good bet, which leaves Carey battling with Thomas and Senorise Perry. Thomas has had marginal production in the league and Perry got a ton of experience on special teams last year.
Great cut, great burst https://t.co/BAKPbjVjr9
— Andrew Dannehy (@ChiBearsAD) July 7, 2015
If you think about the Green Bay game and forget about everything else, you have to think Carey’s chances are good. He looked quick and decisive. He ran low and with power. He looked like an NFL back. Maybe that was nothing. Maybe it was just one game against the worst run defense in the NFL. The Packers performance made up most of his production for the season. It’s easy to blame Marc Trestman for that, but it’s just as likely that Phil Emery drafted a dud. Maybe there was a good reason why he was behind Shaun Draughn for most of training camp last year.
The odds were stacked against Carey even before the guy who drafted him was fired. As of now, there’s no evidence that Carey isn’t just another in a long line of super-productive college running backs who couldn’t make it in the NFL. That certainly seems to be what the Bears believe. He has a chance to prove them wrong but having to do that makes Carey’s chances even slimmer than they already were.