- A closer look at the Steelers' picks: Round 5/159 - Chris Rainey, RB, 5-8, 180, Florida...All-purpose, fleet back at Florida doesn't really seem to fit in Pittsburgh. He runs a 4.37 and while Rashard Mendenhall recovers from ACL surgery, Rainey won't replace him. COULD SURPRISE: Running back RB Chris Rainey: His speed and versatility could make him a wild-card offensive threat under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. - The Sports Xchange
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An extremely versatile athlete capable of making an impact as a running back, receiver or special teams standout, Rainey emerged during his senior season to be the first Florida running back since Emmitt Smith to lead the Gators in both rushing yards (861) and receptions (31). He followed that up with an impressive week of practice at the Senior Bowl in which his playmaking skills were largely put to the test at wide receiver, though his only touch during the game, itself, came on a five yard run.
A highly touted prep prospect, Rainey saw action immediately for the Gators but was sidelined after four games with a shoulder injury and eventually redshirted in 2008. He saw action in 48 more games over his Florida career, starting 19 contests. The all-purpose star left Florida having rushed for 2,464 yards (ninth all-time for the Gators) and caught 69 passes for 795 yards, scoring 19 touchdowns over his career.
At his size, Rainey certainly isn't a workhorse candidate at the next level. Some, in fact, see his greatest potential lining up as a slot receiver in a similar role to what Percy Harvin (himself a former Florida Gator) has with the Minnesota Vikings. If utilized as a back, Rainey's soft hands and playmaking ability could intrigue teams, especially considering the impact undersized multi-purpose backs like Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush and even Dexter McCluster saw for their respective clubs in 2011.
Strengths: Perhaps the most explosive cutting ability and straight-line speed of any athlete in the 2012 draft. Can make defenders look silly due to his lateral agility and sudden acceleration. Versatile. Saw time as a running back, receiver, punt returner and kick returner for the Gators. Looks natural catching the ball out of the backfield and has shown the ability to track the ball over his shoulder and snatch passes outside of his frame. Has struggled a bit with durability over his career but is willing to play with pain. Relishes his opportunities on special teams but is not just a return specialist. Explosive burst led to his breaking the school and SEC record with six blocked punts.
Weaknesses: A bit of a luxury prospect for the next level. Certainly is a versatile, playmaking athlete but provides next to nothing as a blocker which means he'll be an obvious focus of the defense whenever he's on the field. Caught most of his passes on simple dump-offs and quick screens. Struggled tracking the ball over his shoulder as well as adjusting to poorly thrown passes over his career. Has had continued issues with his shoulders dating back to high school which will require a close look by team doctors at the Combine. Character red-flag... Was charged with aggravated stalking (a felony) after sending a threatening text message to a former girlfriend in 2010. The charges were dropped as part of a pre-trial agreement in which he had to complete an intervention program...