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Scouting The Draft: C.J. Spiller

Let's shift gears here with our "Scouting The Draft" installments and turn our attention to the offensive side of the ball. There's been a growing number of Dolphin fans who - as unlikely as it probably is - want to see the Dolphins spend the 12th overall pick on running back C.J. Spiller.

So I enlisted the help of "FigureFour" from SBN's Shakin' The Southland, our resident Clemson blog. And his piece about Spiller is just excellent. It is below, preceded by some of C.J.'s Combine numbers. Enjoy.

C.J. Spiller

Height: 5'10 5/8" / Weight: 196
40: 4.37 / Arm: 30 1/2" / Hands: 10 1/8"

C. J. Spiller is one of the best athletes in Clemson athletic history and was the heart of Clemson’s ‘09 football offense. The 5’ 11" 195 lb RB from Lake Butler, FL is a threat to score any time he is in the game, no matter the situation. The numbers for Spiller are nice and the scouts’ opinions all show CJ as a first round prize who has sported sub-4.3 40 times. Here are ESPN’s stats for Spiller’s career, although they clearly missed the boat on his fumble numbers. As good as Spiller was his senior year, I would expect him to be better physically now as C. J. fought through some key injuries in the past year or so (hamstring and turf toe).

Spiller came to Clemson in 2006, recruited by then Clemson receivers coach (now current head coach) Dabo Swinney. Spiller was rated by many as the #1 RB in the nation and the #1 player in the state of Florida coming out of high school in 2006. Spiller, a Parade All-American, entered Clemson with a considerable amount of hype and pretty high expectations and immediately teamed up with sophomore (and current Cleveland Browns RB) James Davis. Davis’ presence at Clemson makes Spiller’s career accomplishments even more incredible as these two shared carries and playing time for Spiller’s first three years at Clemson.

The big question that has been asked of us heading into the draft is "What does Spiller bring to the table and how (overall) will this man help a professional team?" C. J. Spiller is a world class athlete as shown through his collegiate work on the football field and the track. Spiller is widely regarded as the fastest college football player (on the field) and really shows out when he gets into the open field. Spiller has extremely quick feet and is extremely elusive. I really think that Spiller looks like he is ice skating when he is in the open field. He quickly and gracefully changes directions without slowing down.

As a running back, Spiller has developed a lot over the past four years. Spiller came to Clemson always trying to outrun people and really had issues running between the tackles. Spiller since has learned to fight for tough yards and run inside much better. Spiller has also improved his vision and has decreased the amount of time he spent dancing around looking for a hole. In short, Spiller has learned how to quickly identify whether the hole will be there and immediately hits the designed hole or tries to find a new opening and turns up field.

It is no secret that Spiller is an extremely quick and fast player. If you give him a crease, he will gain big yardage. If he gets in space he can really make linebackers and defensive backs look silly. Thus, what you lose by not having a bulky back who can move piles you gain by a back who can hit you a homerun at any point yet has gotten tough yards on occasion and continually finds a way to fall forward when tackled.

Offensively, Spiller has also been a big threat out of the backfield. Clemson has really killed some teams throwing C. J. the ball out of the backfield. Spiller ate up quite a few teams on wheel routes and catching the ball down the field. Any time Spiller is being covered by a linebacker, the defense is at a huge disadvantage.

Spiller’s special teams skills can be summed up by the fact that C. J. is the career leader for returns for touchdowns. The threat of Spiller running one back for a touchdown often caused teams to adjust and kick away from this athlete. The result of Spiller’s abilities coupled with teams being scared to kick to him allowed Clemson to enjoy great starting field position for most of last season.

Spiller as a person and a leader may be the best attributes of this athlete. Spiller is a devout Christian and really practices what he preaches. He is a great all-around person and has often volunteered his time to help those less fortunate. In general, he is just a good all around guy. Spiller has gone out of his way to lead by example and to do things the correct way. This young man never gave up and played each game as though it could be his last, often suffering through injuries to try to help his team. One should remember that Spiller’s spectacular senior season was achieved as CJ played through a severe case of turf toe that severely limited practice time, conditioning, and created great pain when he played.

Spiller chose Clemson over all other schools in America. C. J. had a young daughter back in Florida and strongly considered transferring to U of F after his freshman season. Spiller, though, changed his mind and stuck by Clemson. By the end of his junior season, Spiller was projected as a first round draft pick and easily could have cashed in as a pro athlete. Still, he wanted to return to Clemson to try to help this squad win a championship. He told all that is Swinney was promoted to head coach, no matter what he would stay. Spiller was definitely true to his word. There is no doubt that Spiller is loyal, and will stick by his team, teammates, and coaches through thick or thin.

Here is a quick breakdown of what I think about Spillers’ football abilities:

Strengths: Speed and quickness. Spiller can really make things happen in space and will run away from defenders when he gets loose. Spiller has good vision and has become more and more patient through his time at Clemson, helping him to find holes and create big plays. Spiller has a lot of versatility and can be utilized in the backfield, in the slot position, or as a return man.

Weaknesses: Obviously size is a weakness. Spiller can get you some tough yards but won’t be pushing piles. Many people have speculated whether Spiller can be an every-down back in the pros because of his size. Otherwise, C. J. has been hampered with hamstring and turf toe injuries while in college.

A big time thanks goes out to "FigureFour" for putting this together. And note that we'll see another piece by him later in the week when he shares his thoughts on Ricky Sapp.