DRAFT TALK: RB/FB Scouting Reports
By Tony Pauline
Special To Jets Insider.com
April 18th, 2008
NFL Draft expert Tony Pauline breaks down the top college RB's and FB's in this month's draft with complete scouting reports.
Full Name: Darren McFadden School:
Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 211 40: 4.37 Year: 3Jr
Three-year starter awarded All-American and All-Conference honors since his
freshman campaign. Led the team in rushing last season totaling 325/1830/16
with 11/164/1 as a pass-catcher. Sophomore-year totals included 204/1714/14
on the ground with 11/149/1 as a pass-catcher.
Gifted ball-carrier with an outstanding package of skills. Instinctive, finds the running lanes, and quickly gets through them. Cognizant of what's happening on the field and productive whenever handling the ball. Uses his blocks at all times, displays a burst of speed, and strong enough to be his own blocker. Keeps his feet driving up the field, hits the hole hard, and shows strength carrying the ball. Runs through arm tackles and falls forward for the extra yardage. Gets a lot of momentum going when he runs north/south. Elusive, can turn the corner, and makes defenders miss in the open field. Terrific pass-catcher with soft, natural hands. Works hard to make himself an available target when lined up as a slot receiver. Occasionally asked to take snaps behind center and can throw the option pass.
At times gets tall in his running and will take some unnecessary hits. Stands to
improve his blocking intensity. Not a power runner on the inside. Could improve
his ball security. Admitted to fathering several children by different mothers at
the combine, which will send up red flags about his character.
McFadden is a talented skill player and he rates as the top all-around prospect in
this draft. He has the potential to be a game-changing runner at the next level
and could help any offense in a variety of ways. Throughout his college career,
McFadden has shown a lot of toughness and a willingness to help his team in any
situation. His off-field transgressions may knock him down a number of draft
boards, yet it never hurt his performance on the field. An early first-round pick,
McFadden should quickly produce at the next level.
Full Name: Rashard Mendenhall School:
Ht: 5-10 Wt: 225 40: 4.47 Year: 3Jr
Two-year starter awarded All-American and All-Conference honors last season
after posting career-high rushing numbers of 262/1742/17 and adding 34/318/2
catching the ball. Sophomore-year totals included 78/640/5 on the ground.
Large, powerful ball-carrier who displays an array of skills. Runs with good lean, follows blocks, and keeps his feet driving up the field. Displays agility. Patient, displays skill in the open field, and runs with an aggressive style. Puts his shoulders into defenders and falls forward for the extra yardage. Breaks tackles and carries the pile. Uses an effective straight-arm, has improved as a receiver out of the backfield, and plays fast.
Cannot quickly cut back against the grain and loses momentum when he must
immediately change direction. Must pick up the intensity blocking. Does not
show the ability to turn the corner.
Mendenhall comes off a breakout campaign and was one of the better running
backs in college last season. He offers the size and skill to be a feature back at
the next level, but he must first polish the details of his game. A first-round pick
who can produce as a rookie in the NFL.
Full Name: Jonathan Stewart School:
Ht: 5-10 Wt: 235 40: 4.48 Year: 3Jr
Full-time starter the past two years awarded All-Conference honors as a junior
after totaling 280/1722/11 on the ground and 22/145/2 as a pass-catcher.
Sophomore-year totals included 981 rushing yards with 10 scores when he
struggled through the season with an ankle injury.
Well-built ball-carrier with a terrific combination of strength, athleticism, and intelligence. Patient and displays good running vision and overall instincts. Waits for blocks to develop, finds the cut-back lanes, and shows surprisingly quick feet. Powerful, rarely brought down by the first defender, and picks up a lot of yardage off initial contact. Works runs and uses an effective straight-arm to keep plays alive. Moves the pile and picks up the tough short yardage. Solid receiver out of the backfield.
Possesses more of a straight-line burst and not a ball-carrier who beats
defenders around the corner. Underwent surgery on an injured toe in early March
and will not be ready to play until mid-July at the earliest.
Stewart is a punishing runner with a complete game and he’s one of the most
underrated prospects in this draft. His off season surgery could push him down
almost a dozen slots in round one yet Stewart is a first-round talent who can
quickly develop into a feature back at the next level.
Full Name: Felix Jones School:
Ht: 5-10 Wt: 207 40: 4.49 Year: 3Jr
Part-time starter the past three seasons sharing time with teammate Darren
McFadden. Second-team All-Conference choice as a junior after totaling
133/1162/11 on the ground with 16/176 catching the ball and averaging 29.6
yards on 22 kick returns with two touchdowns. Sophomore-year totals included
154/1168/6 on the ground with 15/107/3 as a pass-catcher.
Explosive ball-carrier who plays much faster than his timed speed. Outstanding
cut-back runner who does a great job using blocks. Immediately finds the running
lanes and quickly gets to top speed. Quick-footed, cuts back against the grain,
and loses no momentum when he must immediately change direction. Runs with
good lean and vision and deceptively strong in his lower body with the ability to
break the first tackle. Possesses the speed and agility to turn the corner,
displays outstanding open-field running skills, and can run to daylight if given the
slightest amount of open space. Sets defenders up, makes them miss or bounces
around piles, and creates a lot of yardage. Natural catching the ball out of the
backfield, easily adjusting to the errant throw and grabbing it with his hands.
Always played second fiddle at
college. Poor 40 time at the combine will raise red flags.
Jones has been a triple-threat player in college at running back, receiver, and as a return specialist. His ability to elude defenders and create yardage is a major asset. Jones has the ability to develop into a feature runner down the road, yet early in his NFL career he should be very productive as a third-down back and a return specialist.
Full Name: Chris Johnson School:
Ht: 5-11 Wt: 198 40: 4.32 Year: 4Sr
All-Conference selection as a senior when he became ECU’s full-time ball-carrier and posted 236/1123/17 with 37/528/6 as a pass-catcher. Also averaged 28 yards on 36 punt returns with one touchdown. Used extensively the previous three years. All-Conference kick returner as a junior after averaging 23 yards on 21 kick returns. Posted 176/684/6 on the ground with 35/356/2 catching the ball as a sophomore.
Explosive ball-carrier with home run speed. Patient, quick through the hole, and can run to daylight in the open field. Weaves through the traffic on the inside, runs with good lean, and finds the small openings in the defense. Follows blocks carrying the ball or returning kicks, deceptively strong in his lower body, and keeps his feet driving up the field. Adequate receiver out of the backfield and effectively picks up blocking assignments.
Not a decisive or creative runner who makes something out of nothing. Runs with
a bit of an upright style.
Johnson comes off a terrific senior campaign in which he impacted games in a
variety of ways. He possesses just average size and has an injury history, yet his
ability to break games open with his speed makes Johnson enticing as a
change-of-pace back and a kick returner.
Full Name: Matt Forte School: Tulane Pos: RB
Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 217 40: 4.48 Year: 4Sr
Full-time starter the past two seasons after seeing extensive action with the first team during his freshman and sophomore campaigns. Awarded All-Conference and All-American honors last year after posting 361/2127/23 with 32/282 as a receiver. Junior-year totals included 163/859/8 on the ground with 28/360/2 as a pass-catcher.
Nice-sized interior runner who took his game to another level last year. Patient, runs with good vision, and picks his way through the inside. Finds the open lanes on the field, rarely brought down by the first defender, and breaks several tackles. Picks up yardage off initial contact. Runs with good lean, shows surprising agility around the corner, and gets through the tight creases of the defense. Runs hard on the inside delivering blows and even makes defenders miss in a small area. Helps the quarterback sell ball fakes and an adequate receiver out of the backfield. Picks up blocking assignments.
Cannot run to daylight in the open field and possesses just an average burst. Not
a creative runner who makes something out of nothing.
Forte is a running back who carries the ball with authority, displaying both
strength and football instincts. He does the little things well and has enough skill
to develop into a starter at the next level.
Full Name: Jamaal Charles School:
Ht: 5-11 Wt: 200 40: 4.40 Year: 3Jr
Two-time All-Conference selection who led
posting 258/1619/18 and adding 17 receptions. Sophomore-year totals included
156/831/7 carrying the ball when he started just one game. Track and field
sprint champion awarded All-American honors in the 100-meter dash.
Speedy ball-carrier who can take it the distance when given the slightest bit of open space. Runs with good lean and displays a tremendous burst of speed. Can switch it on with a single step and leave defenders in the dust. Keeps his feet driving up the field, deceptively strong in his lower body, and falls forward when tackled. Possesses the speed and footwork necessary to turn the corner. A patient back who finds the running lanes.
Not an elusive ball-carrier who creates yardage. Easily knocked off balance by
the first hit. Average pass-catcher out of the backfield.
Charles is a tremendous athlete with home run speed, yet he’s a prospect who’s
still learning to how to become a complete running back. He offers terrific upside
potential and could start at the next level if he ever completes his game.
Full Name: Ray Rice School:
Ht: 5-8 Wt: 199 40: 4.46 Year: 3Jr
Three-year starter awarded All-American and All-Conference honors the past two
seasons. Rushing totals last season included 380/2012/24 when he also added
25/239/1 as a pass-catcher. Sophomore-year totals included 335/1894/20 on
the ground. Totaled 910 career rushing attempts in college.
Record-setting running back who plays bigger than his listed size and faster than his timed speed. Shifty. Sets up defenders and cuts back against the grain to make them miss. Patient, follows blocks everywhere on the field, and squeezes through the small openings of the defense. Shows the ability to turn the corner, deceptively strong, and breaks the first tackle. Picks up blocking assignments and squares into defenders. Adjusts well as a pass-catcher and plucks the ball from the air. Runs hard. Displays an explosive burst if given a small amount of open space.
Not a pile-mover. Has a lot of mileage on him after just three years of college ball.
Rice has been a durable and productive ball-carrier in college who gets the most
out of his abilities. Although poor size/speed numbers discount him as a feature
runner, he has a real chance at the next level as a role player.
Full Name: Kevin Smith School:
Ht: 6-1 Wt: 217 40: 4.57 Year: 3Jr
Three-year starter awarded All-American and All-Conference honors last season
after posting 450/2567/29 with receiving totals of 24/242/1. Posted 934
rushing yards as a sophomore after 1178 the previous year.
Instinctive, hard-running ball-carrier with the ability to create yardage. Runs with outstanding vision, finds the cut-back lanes, and loses little momentum when he must change direction. Weaves his way through the inside finding the openings on the field, makes defenders miss, and quickly gets through the cut-back lanes. Runs with balance and body control. Keeps his feet moving up the field and breaks arm tackles. Uses blocks everywhere on the field and will pick his spots. Squeezes through the small creases of the defense. Very quick in all aspects of his game.
Not a natural pass-catcher. Does not display the speed to beat defenders around
the corner or in the open field. Not a smooth or fluid ball-carrier.
Smith has been ultra-productive the past three seasons and
he was a workhorse back at
Full Name: Tashard Choice School: Georgia Tech Pos: RB
Ht: 5-10.5 Wt: 215 40: 4.53 Year: 5Sr
who began his college career at
selection last year after numbers of 261/1379/10 on the ground and 14/107 as a
pass-catcher. Junior-year rushing numbers included career-high totals of
297/1534/12 when he was originally named an All-Conference choice.
Well-built, productive runner with solid instincts. Runs with good lean, patient, and waits for blocks to develop. Finds the running lanes, quickly gets through them, and creates yardage on the inside. Displays outstanding vision, makes defenders miss in the open field, and shows a burst. Can turn the corner and stays on his feet off the initial hit.
Not a smooth cut-back runner. Was nicked up with minor injuries last year and
may not be able to take a heavy workload at the next level.
Choice made the most of his opportunities at Georgia Tech and gets a lot out of
his abilities. He may never be a starter at the next level, but he has enough skill
to be a productive backup.
Full Name: Owen Schmitt School:
Ht: 6-2 Wt: 247 40: 4.79 Year: 5Sr
Three-year starter who posted 47/272/5 on the ground as a senior, averaging 5.8
yards/carry. Also added 12/121/1 catching the ball. Junior-year rushing totals
included 65/351/7 when he averaged 5.4 yards/carry.
Athletic lead blocker with terrific size and athleticism. Displays good blocking
vision, stays square, and clears holes in the running game. Plays with an
aggressive style, buries his shoulders into opponents, and picks up yardage off
initial contact when carrying the ball. Plays fast for a big man and easily moves
about the field. Solid receiver out of the backfield.
Straight-line player who does not show the agility to cut the corner. Must improve
his playing balance. Not quick out of his stance.
Schmitt is a hard-working prospect who has overcome a lot of adversity to get
where he is in life. Possesses all the physical skills and intangibles necessary to
quickly see playing time at the next level.
Full Name: Peyton Hillis School:
Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 240 40: 4.69 Year: 4Sr
Three-year starter who totaled 62/347/2
on the ground last season when he led
Athletic lead blocker who’s also been productive handling the ball. Plays with a good degree of quickness, shows good vision, and fast enough to turn the corner and create space for the ball-carrier. Works hard, seals opponents from the action, and chips defenders to open lanes for running backs. Effective receiver who adjusts to the errant throw and makes the reception in stride. Possesses the speed to be a downfield pass-catching threat. Instinctive, immediately picks up blitzes, and stays with assignments.
Marginally strong at the point, gathers into blocks, and rarely finishes off defenders. Does a lot of unnecessary cut-blocking. Lacks top ball-carrying skills.
Hillis is an oversized running back who lacks the pure strength to be a lead blocker. His pass-catching skills and athleticism are best suited for a west coast offense.
Full Name: Jacob Hester School: LSU Pos: FB
Ht: 5-10.5 Wt: 226 40: 4.63 Year: 4Sr
Two year starter who lined-up at both fullback and halfback. All-Conference selection as a senior after leading LSU on the ground posting 225/1103/12 with 14/106/1 as a receiver. Junior totals included 94/440/6 on the ground with pass-catching numbers of 35/269/3.
Versatile, hard working ball handler who does the little things well. Displays outstanding vision, finds the running lanes or quickly picks up blocking assignments. Recognizes blitzes thrown by the opponent and a solid position blocker who walls defenders from the action. Possesses adequate speed, creates space for ball carriers as a lead blocker and runs hard on the inside when handed the ball. Puts his shoulders into defenders and falls forward when tackled, picking up the tough yardage. Solid pass-catcher out of backfield and quickly gets into routes then makes the reception in stride.
Not a dominant drive-blocker who knocks defenders off the ball. Does not
possess the top-flight speed or quickness desired in a primary ball carrier.
Hester has been productive at LSU in a variety of ways and offers a good degree
of upside for the next level. He’s best suited for a west coast offense and his
game should only improve as he physically matures.
Full Name: Jehuu Caulcrick School: Michigan State Pos: FB
Ht: 5-11.5 Wt: 265 40: 4.73 Year: 5Sr
Former linebacker who posted career-high rushing numbers of 245/1447/6 as a senior. Sophomore-year totals included 478 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
Big, powerful college ball-carrier whose best position in the NFL is fullback.
Moves well for a big man, displays better-than-average footwork, and shows a
willingness to let blocks develop. Finds the running lanes and battles his way on
the inside, breaking tackles and picking up a lot yardage off initial contact.
Powerful in his lower body, displays good leg-drive, and falls forward when tackled.
Possesses marginal quickness and speed to his game. Rarely used in the
passing offense. Average blocker for such a large player.
Caulcrick displayed a lot of improvement to his game the past two years. He must pick up the intensity of his blocking to have any shot of making it at the next level.
Full Name: Carl Stewart School:
Ht: 6-1 Wt: 230 40: 4.68 Year: 5Sr
Two-year starter who saw extensive playing time during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Rushing totals last season included 20/49/2 when he also added 14/214 as a pass-catcher. Career-high rushing totals of 39/184/2 came during his freshman campaign.
Undersized, athletic fullback who leads by example on the field. Possesses a
burst of speed, accelerates into blocks, and jolts defenders at the point. Creates
space for his running back, quick to the second level, and chips defenders to
disrupt their angle of attack to the action. Can hit a moving target and knocks
opponents off the ball. Solid receiver out of the backfield.
Lacks true fullback size and not dominant at the point.
Stewart is a hard-working player who does the little things well. He possesses running back size, yet he has the mentality to be a lead blocker and a special teams player at the next level. He should be able to contribute in some form at the next level.
Coming next....WR's and TE's
Tony Pauline is the NFL Draft analyst at SI.com. His year round work on the NFL draft can be found at www.TFYDRAFT.com.