Thursday, November 11, 2010

Is James Starks as Good as Ted Thompson Thinks He Is?

James Starks must be pretty good.  Or, more specifically, it’s certainly apparent through the Packers’ recent personnel decisions that Ted Thompson at least thinks Starks is pretty good.

Despite being a rookie who hasn't played a down in the NFL, Starks was added to the Packers’ 53-man roster today.  Far be it for me to question Thompson’s personnel decisions.  He has shown an ability to pluck guys out of obscurity who have turned out to be studs (Ryan Grant being a prime example).  But, just for the record, I think it is noteworthy to mention just how much of a leap of faith Thompson is taking on Starks.

First, the fact Starks was selected in the first place was a bit of a reach.  He was a sixth round pick (193rd overall) last year out of the University at Buffalo.  Mind you, that’s the University at Buffalo, not of Buffalo.  When naming the institution, the school founders realized that as part of the “State University of New York” system that they needed to come up with a different preposition for the Buffalo part.  State University of New York of Buffalo sounded… well, dumb (like a lot of names out of Buffalo).  So it’s officially the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Starks was the school’s all-time leading rusher with 3,140 yards in three seasons, however racking those stats up against such perennial powerhouses as Ball State and Rhode Island makes it a little less impressive.  Dampening the impressiveness even further is the fact Starks didn’t play his entire senior year due to a shoulder injury.  I guess grainy game tape from 2008 was enough for Ted.  After all, who wouldn’t take a flyer on a guy coming out of a SUNY school?

Second, Starks has been injured his entire NFL career so far with a hammy.  I’m not sure what Starks was doing in 2009 while his shoulder was recovering that would have made him prone to a hamstring injury – maybe too many abrupt reclines in the Barcalounger.  Anyway, before he saw his first NFL snap, he was put on the PUP list back in August and has been in his recliner ever since.  The draft class of 2010 has been particularly injury prone with Mike Neal (2nd) and Morgan Burnett (3rd) already both done for the season and Andrew Quarless (5th) nursing a shoulder.  Might want to have the team doctors take a little closer look on draft day.

Third, Thompson elected not to go out and sign another running back.  Despite Starks’s injury and a variety of viable backs available via trade or waivers, the decision was made to hang tight and wait for Starks to watch a few more episodes of "I Love Lucy" and get healthy.  That was quite a roll of the dice, since an injury to Brandon Jackson could have proven catastrophic.  John Kuhn can only get you 2 yards and a cloud of dust so many times.  Between his 2008 game film and trips to the physical therapist, Starks must have really been impressing the coaches.

Finally, Thompson elected to create a roster spot for Starks, but not for veteran Pro Bowler Al Harris or linebacker Robert Francois.  These were some tough cuts this week.  Well… Harris was a tough cut, at least.  Robert Francois sounds too much like a Canadian Prime Minister to make it in this league.

Bottom line, it’s a big bet on a back out of Buffalo that Thompson is making.  As I’ve bewailed numerous times, I would have put my chips on a different back out of Buffalo, but that’s why I’m writing a blog and Thompson is general manager of an NFL team.  At least he’s consistent in his decision-making – favoring theoretically promising young talent over veterans every time.  Word is Starks is at least out of the hot tub and practicing with the team.  So that’s a good sign, I guess.  Time will tell.


  1. You are an idiot. Mel Kiper had Starks as a potential 1st round pick if he would have come out in the draft as a Junior. Starks is the sole reason why Turner Gill is now the coach at Kansas. The only risk is his health, not his talent. Before you post some idiotic blurb, why not do A LITTLE homework, eh?

  2. Little harsh aren't you Pat.

    I'm sure Mike T would love nothing more than to be proven wrong.

  3. I would *absolutely* love it if Starks proved to be every bit the stud Ryan Grant was. And I'm not even saying the guy isn't talented. He must have done something to rack up all those yards at UB. I'm just saying that, given the injuries and the fact the guy has spent most of his time at the Packer facility getting massages and Vicodin injections, that he's a big risk. It would be a big risk even if he *was* a first-round draft pick.

  4. I thought the article was spot on. Ted Thompsons record is well know. A potential first rounder? Hindsight is 20-20. We'll see about starks but they still f'd up not taking Lynch. And what's up with Nance?

  5. this guy could make big contributions to the packers right away he has the body type and speed of adrian peterson and if he stays healthy he will be a stud

  6. I agree with Annonymous Lol, I seen his tapes, and he's the shit, but can he stay healthy? It seems every year he is hurt for some reason, but still racked up a ton of yards. Yes, its a small conference, but who knows! I hope I'm right!

  7. Actually, the Packers did good by not picking up Lynch. He's only getting 2.8 YPC with the SeaChickens. Starks may be good, but I'm thinking that whole University AT Buffalo deal where he led the school in rush yards isn't that great a feat when ya consider that football is hardly mentioned in the school's website and the kid has a 4.5 40. Not bad... but ya gotta be quicker than that in today's NFL. Plus being injured since 2008 doesn't help. I think this one is more busty than Letha Weapons if ya ask me. Go on, Google it.

  8. I think part of the attraction is simply the change of pace aspect. From what I have seen, albeit from obscuro U, he can also catch a pass out of the backfield. In a sense I don't want a total home run hitter, instant touchdowns get the defense back on the field too quickly. Did not know about alot of injuries, saw the one to his shoulder which in itself is telling in that it was not a leg injury. I continue to be borderline amazed at the derisive undertones that TT is referred to in Packerland, even to the point of making assessments of his appearance as if that matters. And he did play in the NFL donchaknow.