Nyck Grayson: February 21st, 2017
The NFL is changing right before our eyes, obviously the days of a three down back are dying. The participants in this year’s Super Bowl had on one side a dynamic two man system and on the other side there was a committee of backs quieted by the excellence of Tom Brady and the short passing game. But still, its important to have a feature Running Back and depth in your backfield no matter what. This year’s selected RBs in the combine are deeper than most people believe, and here’s the guys that the scouts will have their eyes glued to in early March:
Leonard Fournette, LSU, 6’1 230lbs
The Given: I mean look up, the guy looks like that while running like a Clydesdale. The obvious combination size, strength and speed is why Fournette is listed as many teams RB1 (Top Running back prospect). Consistently picking up yardage after the first contact is a quality that is golden to all 32 rosters, Fournette provides that better than any other prospect this year. He’s also a proven blow delivery man in the pass protection department.
The Unknown/Needs to improve: Like all ball carriers, ball security is among the most important traits needed to be successful. Fournette coughed it up 8 times in the span of his LSU career and will need to show improvement in that department for scouts to have no doubt in picking him. With the passing game progressing daily, Fournette can’t afford to be a one trick pony and must show progressive catching ability and route running savy out of the backfield at the combine and at his pro day.
Dalvin Cook, Florida State, 5’11 202lbs
The Given: Cook is my favorite RB prospect in this draft, on tape he’s shown that he is dynamic in both the pass and run game.What I love most about Cook is his ability to create for himself, and with decreasing quality Offensive Line play; the ability to run without relying 100% on the five in front of you can make you an impact player in this league. Not the strength bruiser that Fournette is but he’s not weak either. He’s had big games against some of the more highly touted defenses in the country in his career and for that I wouldn’t pass him up if I needed a feature Running Back.
The Unknown/Needs to improve: Although it slightly improved in his last year at FSU, ball security concerns are prime for Cook, everyone remembers the blooper fumble against Ole Miss earlier this past season, if he can cut down on that (and by cut down I mean completely abolish THAT from his game) he will be a mighty fine RB. The other concern that Cook goes into the combine with is an injury history regarding the shoulders. He’s had multiple shoulder surgeries and at the medical examination portion of the combine scouts will be hanging on to that information tightly to see if Dalvin is worth the risk.
Watch the strength and burst against the National Champions.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford, 6’0 205lbs
The Given: I want to start this off by completely disregarding the people who want to automatically move the white guy out to the slot because the Edelmans, Amendolas, and Woodheads of the world. McCaffrey is a TRUE running back prospect that can be used in the pass game due to his versatility. Has zone patience better than any of the prospects I’ve studied this year. Also Great vision that can be utilized in the running game.
The Unknown/Needs to improve: The big indictment on Christian was him leaving the team before his bowl game, media and college football fans have questioned his character and team values since the announcement. In the interviews at the combine McCaffrey will have to address the questions regarding that event. Physically in order to be taken seriously as a back he will have to gain some more strength as he isn’t the type to bust through every arm tackle which probably furthers the notion that he’s a Wide Receiver, I disagree. With a strength increase he should also try to improve his speed and keep his forty to a mid to low 4.4 range as he shows quickness but not “Getaway from the cops” speed.
Watch Mccaffrey’s vision and ball carrier strength on this run against USC.
Kareem Hunt, Toledo, 6’0, 225
The Given: Kareem, coming from Toledo is going to have to deal with the small school hate and that’s alright, a legitimate argument can be made that the two best players on both sides of the ball came from the MAC, so with that logic the odds are in Hunt’s favor. Hunt is very good at running through tackles even better at making people miss. Has solid vision and adequate burst that allows him can get skinny to get through small holes in the offensive line. In the Senior Bowl week he did a good job of fighting through contact and finishing runs.
The Unknown/Needs to improve: At times I would watch Hunt and wonder why he didn’t necessarily run like the bruising back his frame says he can be. Sometimes tends to get cute when holes are glaring and wants to use quickness to make something out of nothing. An improvement in the pass protection game would make him a hit in the post day 1 rounds if he can deliver for whoever selects him.
A display of open field shiftiness and ability to finish runs as well from Hunt.