In the months and weeks leading up to the 2010 NFL Draft, Clemson running back C.J. Spiller repeatedly was compared to Saints running back Reggie Bush by draft experts far and wide. With very similar athletic abilities, size and body type, the comparison was apt, as both were elite playmakers at the college level.
However, now that Spiller is with the Buffalo Bills, Rob Rang - senior analyst at NFLDraftScout.com - believes that Spiller's rookie role will more closely resemble the role that Vikings receiver Percy Harvin played during his AP Rookie of the Year performance in 2009.
It isn't a surprise that Buffalo would use Spiller at receiver, necessarily. A similarly gifted athlete as Reggie Bush, many forecasted that he'd be used in a similar capacity as the New Orleans' Saints all-purpose dynamo.
Depending on how many times the creative Gailey moves Spiller wide, the former ACC Player of the Year could actually play a role more similar to the one Percy Harvin played with the Minnesota Vikings last year.
Harvin caught 60 passes, ran the ball 15 times, and returned 42 kicks during his rookie season. His biggest impact arguably came as a returner, where he consistently flipped field position for the Vikings, and was the only player in the league not named Josh Cribbs to return more than one kick for a score. Clearly, he plays a different "traditional" position than Spiller will, but Spiller will be getting a lot more than 15 carries, barring a health issue.
Athletically, Spiller, Bush and Harvin are all in the same mold - roughly the same size with "video game speed" - but Spiller could be used more than either of the two elder speed demons. Bush didn't return a kick as a rookie (though he did return 28 punts, one for a score), but did log 155 carries and 88 receptions. I'd be shocked if Spiller approached Bush's receiving numbers, but Harvin's aren't completely out of the question. Unlike Bush and Harvin, Spiller is likely to see significant work as a running back, receiver, and kick returner, and could get a few punt return opportunities as well.
Anyone want to take a stab at projecting Spiller's number of touches in all three (or four, if you want to count punt returning) areas?