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Scout's Notebook: Bills RB C.J. Spiller

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Posted Sept. 08, 2010 @ 1:03 p.m. ET
By Nolan Nawrocki

RB C.J. Spiller
Buffalo Bills
5-10 5/8, Weight: 196, Speed: 4.31

Notes: Has a daughter. As a true freshman at Clemson in ’06, appeared in all 13 games and carried 129 times for 938 yards (7.3-yard average) with 10 touchdowns and 19 catches for 210 yards (11.1) with two TDs. Also returned 13 kickoffs for 234 yards (18.0) and 11 punts for 33 yards (3.0). Played 13 games in ’07, totaling 145-768-3 (5.3) rushing and 34-271-2 (8.0) receiving while returning kickoffs 19-547 (28.8), including two touchdowns, and punts 16-137 (8.6). In ’08, played 12 games and rushed 116-629-7 (5.4) with 34-436-3 (12.8) receiving. Also threw a 15-yard TD pass against Virginia and returned kickoffs 19-516-1 (27.2), and punts 18-189-0 (10.5). After splitting carries with Cleveland Browns 2009 seventh-rounder James Davis for three seasons, Spiller was the featured back in ’09 when he started 12-of-14 games and piled up 216-1,212-12 (5.6) rushing, 36-503-4 (14.0) receiving, 23-755-4 (32.8) on kickoff returns and 8-210-1 (26.3) on punt returns. Dealt with hamstring and turf toe injuries his final two seasons, but his 7,588 career yards rank second in Division I history and 21 of his 51 career scores were 50 yards or longer. Along with Reggie Bush, is the only player in NCAA history to record 3,000 yards rushing, 1,500 kickoff return yards, 1,000 receiving yards and 500 punt-return yards. His mark of seven career kickoff return TDs is an NCAA record (eight combined kickoff- and punt-return scores is tied for the all-time mark). Also was a three-time All-American for Clemson’s track team, where he posted career-best times of 10.22 seconds and 6.58 seconds in the 100 meters and 60 meters, respectively. Team captain graduated in 3½ years. Was selected ninth overall and signed a five-year contract which includes $20 million guaranteed.

Positives: Has ankle-breaking agility, exceptional burst and immediate acceleration to take the corner in the blink of an eye. Can create magic in the open field and string moves together. Very good balance, lateral quickness and gear change. Has rare competitive speed that translates to big-play capabilities every time he touches the ball. Catches the ball with ease and can create mismatches out of the backfield. Is electric in the return game with the long speed to go the distance and pull away from the pack. Is tough and will play through injuries.

Negatives: Is not big or big-boned and has been nagged by hamstring and toe injuries throughout his career that may not disappear given his rare stop-and-start acceleration. Lacks the strength and power to consistently tote the ball between the tackles and will wear down if he is not used most extensively in space. Does not possess the girth to factor as a blocker. Must still prove he can stay durable touching the ball 20-25 times a game over the course of a 16-game season the way a back selected in the top 10 is expected to do.

Summary: A dynamic difference maker drafted to bring a Chris Johnson-type level of excitement to a stagnant offense and support an average crop of quarterbacks. Spiller could make a mark immediately if he's able to withstand the physicality of a more punishing NFL game. Has proven he can make a bad QB look good and lift an offense with his dazzling array of moves and unique combination of burst, acceleration and playmaking ability. Could become the most dangerous back the Bills have fielded since the days of Thurman Thomas.


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