Stanford running back Toby Gerhart would be a first round pick if he were black, according to a longtime NFL scout anonymously quoted in an article published today by Yahoo.com's Michael Silver.
“He’ll be a great second-round pickup for somebody, but I guarantee you if he was the exact same guy – but he was black – he’d go in the first round for sure,” the scout said. “You could make a case that he’s a Steven Jackson-type – doesn’t have blazing speed but he’s strong and powerful and versatile."
Gerhart led the nation with 1,871 yards and 27 touchdowns last year, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy race to Alabama's Mark Ingram -- who ran for 213 yards and 10 touchdowns less despite playing in 14 games last year. Gerhart played in 13 games.
Stereotyping Gerhart as just another white hope at running back is obviously unfair. Considering his underrated top-end speed, lateral agility and quick feet, it also isn't accurate. I've steadily made comparisons to former Cincinnati Bengals standout back Rudi Johnson with Gerhart.
Despite comparing him to a former Pro Bowl back, I agree with the first part of the scout's statement in that Gerhart is likely to be taken in the second round.
I believe, as I told Jon Wilner in this article for the San Jose Mercury News, that first round picks are generally reserved for running backs with explosive speed. I believe the color of Gerhart's skin won't have anything to do with where he is ultimately selected.
In a draft as talented as this one at hard-to-find positions such as offensive tackle and the defensive line, I expect it to be even more difficult for a third running back to sneak into the first round.