Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Chris Wells
Chris Wells (RB)
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 235
College: Ohio St.
Conference: Big Ten
Hometown: Akron, OH
High School: Garfield
Featured Prospects
Selected by: Arizona Cardinals
Round: 1
Pick (Overall): 31 (31)
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Pick Analysis: The Cardinals get their power runner with Wells. The former Buckeye excels at grinding between the tackles, and his physical running style gives Ken Whisenhunt the option of playing smash-mouth football. Though there have been durability questions, Wells has been productive as a featured runner. He could put up big numbers in an offense that has normally moved the ball through the air.
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

Regarded by many as the most powerful tailback in college football, that title came with a hefty price for Wells during his three years at Ohio State. Even though he suffered from a rash of injuries - a left ankle sprain, a right wrist sprain and a thumb fracture in 2007; a right foot sprain, turf toe, a hamstring strain and a concussion in 2008 - he only missed three games while compiling enough rushing yardage to rank fourth on the school career record list.


Following in the footsteps of Archie Griffin, Keith Byars and Eddie George, Wells had big shoes to fill and lots of veteran depth to move past on the roster before he was given his opportunity. Being one of 11 children, he was used to being patient waiting for his time to come.


Wells was just the seventh player in school history to rush for more than 3,000 yards in a career (3,382). His average of 93.94 yards per game rushing was the third-best mark in Buckeyes annals. He tied Keith Byars (1982-85) for third on OSU's all-time record chart with 17 100-yard rushing performances. In his first season as a starter, he amassed 1,609 yards on the ground in 2007, the fourth-best season total by an Ohio State running back.


At Garfield High School, Wells was a Parade All-American and named the nation's top running back as a senior, rushing for 2,134 yards and 27 touchdowns on 223 carries (9.6 avg) in 2005. As a junior, he rushed for 1,939 yards and scored 20 touchdowns. The 2005 National Player of the Year scored three touchdowns on his way to being selected Most Valuable Player of the U.S. Army All-America Bowl.


Wells was Ohio State's first commitment to its 2006 recruiting class, enrolling at the university in time to compete in 2006 spring practice. He rushed for game-high 48 yards on 11 carries in the spring game, but found himself listed behind Maurice Wells and Antonio Pittman on the depth chart entering the season.


Despite playing as a reserve in all 13 games, Wells finished second on the team with 576 yards on 104 carries (5.5 avg) and seven touchdowns. Fumble issues saw his playing time decrease as the season progressed.


As a sophomore, Wells took over the tailback position, starting all 13 games despite battling a nagging ankle sprain all campaign. He was also hampered by a late-season fractured bone near his thumb that would require surgery after the season. The second-team All-American still produced the fourth-best season in school history, as he amassed 1,609 yards on 274 attempts (5.9 avg), finding the end zone 15 times.


Hoping to become more mobile, Wells shed more than 10 pounds from his frame before the 2008 season opener, but was limited in his off-season training program and missed the bulk of spring drills while recovering from thumb surgery. In the season opener vs. Youngstown State, he was carted off the field with a right foot sprain (also suffered from turf toe) and would miss OSU's next three contests. Upon his return, he was forced to wear an offensive lineman's high-top cleats, but called them "cement shoes," as they hampered his cutting ability.


Later in the season, Wells had a hamstring issue to deal with and later missed a portion of the Fiesta Bowl with a concussion. He still led the team in rushing with 207 attempts for 1,197 yards (5.8 avg) and eight touchdowns, as his average of 119.7 yards per game ranked sixth among the nation's running backs. He also more than doubled his receiving output, catching eight passes for 47 yards (5.9 avg).


High School

Attended Garfield (Akron, Ohio) High School, earning Parade All-American honors...


Named the nation's top running back as a senior, rushing for 2,134 yards and 27 touchdowns on 223 carries (9.6 avg) in 2005...As a junior, Wells rushed for 1,939 yards and scored 20 touchdowns as a junior...The 2005 National Player of the Year scored three touchdowns on his way to being selected Most Valuable Player of the U.S. Army All-America Bowl.


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Analysis

Positives: Extraordinary combination of size and natural running ability. Downhill runner who attacks the line of scrimmage when running inside. Shows the patience to pick and slide laterally. Good burst to and through the hole. Despite his height, generally runs with good pad level, giving defenders little to target other than his knees and shoulder pads. Rare size and leg drive to move the pile. Rare vision and lateral quickness for a back of his size. Anticipates the cutback lanes before they appear and capitalizes on them. Surprising acceleration to break through the first wave of the defense and get to the second level. Brutal stiff-arm when in the open field to bat away defenders attempting to drag him down. Despite his size, shows good breakaway speed. Final nine touchdowns against BCS opponents traveled an average of 32 yards. Good size and strength as a pass blocker. Despite his struggles with durability, some close to the program characterize him as being a tough player willing to play through pain.


Negatives: Primary concern - and the only one that will keep him from being a top 10 pick - is Wells' struggles with durability. Fought nagging injuries throughout much of his career at Ohio State and some have questioned whether he knows the difference between pain and injury. Sat out three full games and parts of several others (including the 2009 Fiesta Bowl -- his final game in a Buckeye uniform) with foot, hamstring and head (concussion) injuries. May lack natural hands for the reception. Has only caught 15 passes for 84 career yards and too often double-clutches. Inconsistent effort as a blocker.


Compares To: LARRY JOHNSON, Kansas City -- Like Johnson, Wells is a power-oriented runner with a great stiff-arm, but all that pounding does come with a price - serious concerns about his durability. He has the hard-driving running style of Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, but is not as well-rounded and doesn't play with that steady fire in the belly that the best NFL backs displays. There are a lot of holes in Wells' game, but for a team needing someone to punch the ball up the gut, he is the best option in this draft.


Injury Report

2007: Missed most of spring camp (5/07) with a left ankle sprain...Left the Penn State game (9/23) when he re-injured his ankle, doing that again after just four carries in the Kent clash (10/13)...Suffered what later was diagnosed as a right wrist sprain and a broken bone above his thumb vs. Illinois (11/10) and was forced to wear a brace the following game vs. Michigan (11/17).


2008: Sat out spring drills after having surgery to repair his right thumb fracture (5/22)... Was carted off the field with a right foot sprain in the third quarter of the season opener vs. Youngstown State (8/30), missing the next three games vs. Ohio University (9/06), Southern California (9/13) and Troy (9/20). Upon his return, he was forced to wear an oversized offense lineman's high-top cleats to protect his foot...Suffered a hamstring pull vs. Michigan (11/22)...Sat out most of the second half of the Fiesta Bowl vs. Texas with a mild concussion.


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