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Originally published Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 10:00 PM

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Big-play Spiller a tempting RB

C. J. Spiller is the top running back available in this year's draft, a playmaker so explosive he scored touchdowns five different ways...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Burners

RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson (5-11, 196)

Considered the top running back available, he's also a dangerous kick returner.

RB Jahvid Best, California (5-10, 199)

The fastest running back at the scouting combine, he was timed at 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash. There are concerns after a frightening concussion ended his junior season, though.

RB Joe McKnight, USC (5-11, 198)

Versatile back and someone Carroll is very familiar with.

The Bruisers

RB Ryan Matthews, Fresno State (6-0, 218)

The total package with both sufficient speed and size to be a workhorse.

RB Toby Gerhart, Stanford (6-0, 231)

Ability to run through contact is a strength, and he was timed faster than expected at the scouting combine.

RB Montario Hardesty, Tennessee (6-0, 225)

Not quite a power back, but not truly a speedster. That may mean he's well-rounded or could mean he's a 'tweener.

RB Ben Tate, Auburn (5-11, 220)

He performed 26 bench-press repetitions at 225 pounds at the scouting combine, most of any tailback prospect.

RB LaGarrette Blount, Oregon (6-1, 241)

He has the size but is a late-round consideration unlikely to factor in first three rounds.

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C.J. Spiller is the top running back available in this year's draft, a playmaker so explosive he scored touchdowns five different ways in college at Clemson, including one after he lost a shoe.

But he's also not built for every-down use, having carried the ball 20 times or more in five games in his four-year college career.

Can Seattle afford to use one of its first-round picks on a situational back?

That's one of the biggest questions surrounding the Seahawks entering Thursday's draft. Seattle's need for a home-run threat on offense has prompted some to project Seattle will choose Spiller as high as sixth overall.

Seattle has drafted three fullbacks in the previous five years compared to only one tailback, which helps explain why coach Pete Carroll said his team needs to find firepower in this year's draft.

"Players who can score touchdowns," he said.

Spiller would certainly fit the bill in that regard. He scored 21 touchdowns that covered 50 yards or more at Clemson, including eight kickoff returns.

At USC, Carroll kept a stable of running backs, and the fact Spiller doesn't project as a workhorse like Adrian Peterson doesn't preclude the Seahawks from drafting him. In fact, Carroll would prefers that power-in-numbers approach that kept backs hungry.

"I never wanted them to be happy," Carroll said of his running backs. "I wanted them to be champing at the bit for another and more opportunity and stuff. If they were happy, then they weren't the right guys."

Over the previous four seasons, no USC running back under Carroll totaled more than five games with 20 or more carries.

Seattle currently has Justin Forsett and Julius Jones in the backfield, and while Carroll has said he's happy with that group, he is also eager to add to the arsenal.

"We'd like one more guy that could really add something to us and that come in different packages, too," he said. "We'd always like to have a physical presence at the running-back position ... We always look for guys that can do things and playmaking ability. Wonderful speed guys in this draft, extraordinary speed guys. Guys that have catching abilities."

Those are the two flavors the running backs break down to.

Note

• The Seahawks signed guard Ben Hamilton, 32, the longest-tenured member of the Denver Broncos' offensive line.

The team did not announce any terms for the contract, and Hamilton's agent did not return a message from The Seattle Times. Hamilton is listed at 6 feet 4, 290 pounds. He is a nine-year NFL veteran chosen in the fourth round of the 2001 draft.

He joins an offensive line that was sparse at last week's minicamp. Mike Gibson was the team's second-string left guard. Trevor Canfield — the second-string guard — was waived after the minicamp and subsequently claimed by Detroit.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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