Click here to read the scoring system to understand why running back Jason Snelling finishes 30th among Falcons players.
Total Score: 42
Player Grade: 49 out of 100
Teams he could start for: 1 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 1 out of 32
Teams he could find role on: 27 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +0
Positional Bonus: +3
Jason Snelling could probably head to the St. Louis Rams and start over either Daryl Richardson or Isaiah Pead. But he could find a role on the majority of NFL teams nowadays, as teams don’t simply just use two running backs but now many are using three in their committee-driven systems.
Snelling isn’t a flashy player, but what you really like about him is that he’s really the ideal role player. He doesn’t excel at anything, but whatever you ask of him he can do. If you want him to run the ball, he’s effective. He’s a good receiver as well out of the backfield. He’s solid in pass protection. He also is a capable lead blocker when the Falcons have used him over the years when Ovie Mughelli has been out of the lineup. While Mike Cox filled in ably last year once the Lousaka Polite experiment was deemed a failure, the truth is that the Falcons probably could have simply gotten away with Snelling filling in the rest of the way. He also is an underrated special teams player.
Hell, I’d bet if the Falcons wanted Snelling to line up at tight end/H-back or at slot receiver, he’d be functional there. Versatility is the key with Snelling, and it’s why at age 29 (a year beyond his peak age) he still is going to have a significant role with the team and could probably continue to do so for another few years beyond 2013 if the Falcons so wished it.
What prevents Snelling from being higher on this list is that in his primary role: as someone that carries the football, he’s decidedly average when compared to most running backs in the league. That’s not mean to be as negative as it sounds. Snelling is average (or slightly above) across the board when it comes to the skills that running backs require to succeed in the NFL such as footwork, burst, balance, speed, lateral agility, and power. That makes him a well-rounded player, but essentially he becomes the jack of all trades and the master of none. That leaves him at a disadvantage compared to many other NFL running backs that excel in at least one of those areas. But it makes him perfect for his role in Atlanta because of the aforementioned ability to fit into a number of roles and niches with the team.
As for his 2013 outlook, Snelling is probably not going to get a ton of work offensively because of the Falcons upgrade to the starting position with the acquisition of Steven Jackson, and the fact that No. 2 tailback Jacquizz Rodgers is one of those players that does excel in a few areas (lateral agility being the primary one). He only finished with 18 carries for the year, a third of which came in garbage time against the Giants. But he really took advantage of those limited reps, particularly in that game, and the same will be expected for him in 2013. He did catch 31 passes last year, but that figure probably will decline due to the presence of Jackson.
A way for Snelling to increase his value will be improving on special teams. He’s been no slouch there over the years, collecting 36 tackles in six seasons. Last year, he had 6 stops, the second-best mark of his career after a team-leading 19-tackle effort in 2008. If he has another year of production like that in him, then it will more than make up for any decline on offense.