Cosell Talks Roy HeluThursday, June 28, 2012
Thursday's interview with Greg Cosell of NFL Films began with a discussion of Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray. Cosell's evaluation of Murray can be accessed at this link. I really wanted to get Cosell's take on a few young tailbacks who might be up and comers. Staying in the NFC East, we transitioned to another second-year runner in Washington's Roy Helu.
I opened by asking for Cosell's overall take on Helu, after watching his rookie-year game tape.
"It's funny that you mention him right after Murray, because I think Roy Helu is a guy who's a little more straight-linish than Murray," Cosell said. "But Helu is a big guy. He's about 220 pounds. I think he fits perfectly -- and I think most of us thought this when we watched him at Nebraska -- most of us thought he'd be a zone runner. A one-cut, downhill runner. And he's in the perfect scheme for that. He has very good burst, and very good speed. And he's a big man, so he's got some natural strength and power."
Helu was a fourth-round draft pick two Aprils ago. He is not blessed with elite lateral movement skills, as Cosell noted. But Helu possesses a number of traits that may allow him to compensate, particularly in Redskins coach Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme.
"I think that he's a little upright as a runner," Cosell observed. "And I think that will always prevent him from being truly laterally explosive. If he was 20 pounds less, he would not be a good back in this league. But because he's 220 pounds and he has some natural strength, when he cuts downhill he can move the pile a little bit. So, I'm anxious to see him this year."
Helu finished his rookie season with 151 carries for 640 yards (4.24 YPC), and three all-purpose touchdowns, appearing in 15 games and starting five. He also caught 49 balls. While those are pretty good numbers for a first-year tailback, Cosell believes the jury is still out on Helu entering year two.
"Obviously he started and played over the course of last season. Later in the year, he had three consecutive 100-yard games. I think that scheme fits him perfectly. I think when the sample size is as small as it is for Helu, it's tough to tell whether his success resulted from his skill set or from the fact that Shanahan's run game has always produced success for backs. So I'm not certain yet whether I think he is going to be a really good back. Or whether he's Ryan Torain in the sense that he can have some good games and then we'll see where he goes."
Next up: Chargers running back Ryan Mathews.