GM profiling: Graves and the running backs

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals would like to find a potentially dynamic running back in the upcoming draft, as we have discussed.

Their general manager, Rod Graves, will guide decisions on the matter with input from college scouting director Steve Keim, head coach Ken Whisenhunt and presumably others in the organization.

For perspective on decisions the team might make in the 2009 draft, I've singled out the halfbacks Graves' teams have drafted since 1993, when Graves was with the Bears. His teams also drafted fullbacks Joel Makovicka, Dennis McKinley and Ron Janes, but halfback is the position we'll consider for this exercise.

None of the players listed in the chart became long-terms starters for Graves' teams. Raymont Harris started most of three seasons for the Bears.

With that in mind, I checked the Steelers' drafting history at running back during the years Whisenhunt was an assistant for them.

Willie Parker was undrafted. Jerome Bettis entered the NFL with the Rams. The Steelers did not draft a running back before the fifth round (166th overall) while Whisenhunt was with the team from 2001 to 2006. The team did draft fifth-rounder Verron Haynes and seventh-rounders J.T. Wall, Noah Herron and Cedric Humes.

Perhaps the Cardinals and Whisenhunt can start a new tradition drafting for the positon in Arizona. Tim Hightower showed some promise as a rookie in 2008, but not enough to keep the starting job.