Jun 9, 2008
I met Cedric Benson at the NFL scouting combine in 2005, and my reaction to him was clear: I didn’t like the dude. I found him surly and disingenuous when putting on his happy face and saying the type of things all rookies are trained to say at the combine, the ultimate job interview in the NFL. That same year I met Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, and Braylon Edwards, and loved all three guys. You really can gather a lot of vibes and gut feelings about these players simply by meeting them briefly. Maybe Marshawn Lynch will go down as a bad cover story for us this year, but I’m still confident after meeting Lynch that he won’t even be in the same hemisphere that Benson is in right now in terms of the off-the-field stuff is concerned.
Let’s see what comes out about Benson’s recent DUI charge, but the verdict is already in with Benson: he’s a huge pile of crap for putting himself in such a bad position just weeks after his boating incident. What’s next, charges stemming from driving a riding lawnmower while drinking?
The Bears drafted Matt Forte because he’s a featured back, and a true lead back. He’s a three-down back. Benson isn’t any of these things, so his margin of error was very small this off-season. And how does he respond? He does with two alcohol-related charges in less than two months. Benson may be done, but even if he’s not, Forte’s looking a lot better these days. I took him in the 6th round of the FantasyGuru.com Magazine Expert League draft, and that pick is looking really good right now.
Forte will have his hands full starting on a team with a weak o-line and passing game, but he’s the type of player who can still do some nice damage even in a less-than-ideal situation. He’s big and physical, so he can pound it, but he also has some zuzu and the ability to make defenders miss and use his lateral explosiveness to get to the outside. He’s a good blocker, and he has good hands. The Bears absolutely love Forte, and he now seems poised to get a ton of touches this year.
If healthy, I’m thinking about 1175 rushing yards, 7-8 rushing TDs along with about 40 catches for 375 yards and 1-2 TDs. These are low-end projections, and that’s fair considering his inexperience and shaky situation. But those numbers would have placed him in the top-15 at RB in 2007, a down year for the position. So right now, if healthy, I’m projecting Matt Forte to be a top-20 back if Benson is out of the picture, which he could be as soon as this week. Benson, as we saw last year, if the type of player who gets stuffed repeatedly behind a bad line, someone who won’t make people miss, and someone who won’t help out in the passing game much at all. I haven’t seen him play a snap in the NFL, but Forte is a better starter for this team right now than Benson.