Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. has long been a huge Steven Jackson supporter.
In the past, Williamson has described Jackson as one of the very best players in the NFL. But in an Insider piece breaking down NFC West running back situations, Williamson says Jackson has "lost a step" and no longer qualifies as a top runner in the open field.
Jackson's long-term viability is definitely a concern based on the injuries he has incurred over the last couple seasons.
I thought the groin and finger injuries he suffered last season affected Jackson, including in the open field. He could not open up with a full stride as easily, at least earlier in the season, and the finger injury forced him to take precautions when falling or catching the ball.
Jackson, who turns 28 in July, also added muscle last season while returning from a back injury. He was already plenty powerful. Did the extra weight affect him negatively in any way?
"He struggles to run away from tacklers and break long runs," Williamson wrote. "And he just isn't as nifty as he once was. This sounds like I am a Jackson "Hater," which I am not. In fact, I think that the new offense being installed by Josh McDaniels could do Jackson a world of good, as could the maturation of Sam Bradford."
Williamson thinks the Rams must find a suitable backup for Jackson to spread the workload. Overall, he ranks the Rams' running back situation behind those of the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. He calls Frank Gore the best running back in the NFC West despite injury concerns.