Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno was born the year Walter Payton finished his NFL career. No matter, while Moreno admires Adrian Peterson and LaDainian Tomlinson, Moreno’s favorite running back is Sweetness.
“Just watching tape, and I got to read his book when I was in high school,” Moreno said. “That’s when I fell in love with him.”
Scouts are falling for Moreno.
Despite his pedestrian 40 times – he ran a 4.5 at the NFL Scouting Combine and a 4.59 at his Pro Day – Moreno and Ohio State’s Beanie Wells are the top two running backs in the draft.
“I’ve got him graded higher than Beanie Wells,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “He’s 217 pounds. He’s got everything but long speed. In other words, his later quickness and burst is incredible. He makes people miss. His acceleration is incredible. He catches the football. He’s a willing blocker in pass protection, which most of them aren’t. The only thing he doesn’t have is the ability to run away from people in the open field. But I’m a big believer in Moreno.”
In two seasons, Moreno rushed for 2,734 yards and 30 touchdowns on 498 carries. He joined Herschel Walker as the only running backs in school history with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
Moreno also caught 53 passes for 645 yards and two touchdowns in his 26 games, giving him 3,409 career all-purpose yards.
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, whose team could use a running back to pair with Reggie Bush, said Moreno has the “durability and the toughness” to run inside.
“I like Moreno a lot,” Payton said. “Now, he comes away a little bit from that prototype that we’re talking about. He’s not quite the same size or a little bit different style of runner than Chris Wells is at Ohio State. But I think he’s a very talented player.”
Moreno might have owned every school and conference rushing record had he stayed around another two years. But he said “financial reasons” made his decision to turn pro.
“It was definitely tough (to leave),” Moreno said. “The reason why I came to Georgia was that the coaches and the players really made me feel at home. Leaving those coaches and the players was really a tough decision. It came down to the last day and down to the wire.
“I made the right decision for my family and for me.”