Junior who has declared for the 2015 NFL draft.
Positives: Is a workhorse who seems to get more effective as the game goes on. Has great height and good bulk for the position. As you would expect, he is a powerful runner who is generally hard to bring down one on one. Is also more athletic than you would expect. Runs with above-average speed and quickness for his size. Runs with deceptive speed and seems to surprise defenders when he breaks runs outside. When he is more decisive behind the line, he shows above-average burst for his size. Is pretty nimble in the open field and can leap over defenders. Though he doesn’t have great burst, he has adequate acceleration to go with his strength. Nimble feet and fair vision for cutbacks, and is able to pick his way through traffic at the line. Adequate downfield blocker who at least gets in the way of defenders. Though he starts his runs too upright, he runs with adequate body lean once he gets going. He’s able to keep his balance when defenders try to take him on up high. Has an effective stiff arm.
Negatives: Though he gained a lot of yards and had a high yards-per-carry number, a lot of his yards seemed to come after he was already a few yards downfield – mostly due to his offensive line. Looks hesitant behind the line, which makes him appear to be very slow. He will also stop himself right in the hole and lose momentum. Is a long strider who isn’t quick when changing directions. Suspect balance making cuts and seems pretty easy to trip up with low contact. Runs a little bit too upright behind the line. Runs slow routes when he knows the pass is not going to be coming to him. Inconsistent hands and has a hard time extending – will double clutch at times. Inconsistent pass protector and downfield blocker – doesn’t attack defenders and gives inconsistent effort. Seems a little unwilling to step up in the pocket to take on defenders as a blocker. Has a bit of a long injury record and other red flags. Injured left ankle in September 2013 and missed three games. Then missed more time and was still being affected by it in 2013 bowl game. Suspended for four games in October 2014 for accepting money for autographs. Tore left ACL in November 2014, had surgery and missed rest of season – and still seemed affected by it before the draft.
Projection: Round 1. By many (if not most), he is considered the best running back in this class, but I am far from in love with his talent. He has some power and surprising athleticism, but he doesn’t seem as strong as he should be. Also, to me, he lacks the dynamism and all-around skills I would want in a full-time workhorse back. At the least, though, he will make for a good power back and goal line back in the pros, and is worth probably at least a third-round pick just for that. If he works on his decisiveness and improves on either his pass catching or pass protecting, he might be worth the first-round pick that will be used on him, but, right now, he looks like a third-round back. Just my (far in the minority) opinion.