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For the weeks leading up to the NFL Combine event (late Feb.), I go through preview tape of all the prospects attending/invited and give a quick reaction grade and a few sentences on what I’m seeing – a quick guide, of sorts, of what we’re focusing on watching at the event.
It’s a quick eye-test reaction, and grading/scouting typed in pencil. The NFL Combine measurables can/do change things radically for some of the prospects…there’s always a nice (or disappointing) surprise or ten.
After the 2019 NFL Combine results are in, we can load all the results into our computer scouting models to marry up with our performance analytics -- and then start our detailed studies on the top prospects and computer-model sleepers at each position.
Every day for the two weeks leading up to the 2019 NFL Combine we will release another positional preview of the prospects, ranked by our early grades applied.
Today’s group: ‘Power RBs’ (bigger, physical, three down projected RBs)
Tomorrow’s planned group: ‘Speed RBs’ (smaller, quick, 3rd-down type projected RBs)
2019 NFL Combine Scouting Preview/Ranking: Power RBs
RB Karan Higdon, Michigan (5’9”/207) *Preview Scouting Grade: F
A waste of time typing/discussing. He’s every OK college RB who kicks around the fringes of the NFL for a few years and disappears. I don’t even think he’ll make it to a practice squad.
FB Alec Ingold, Wisconsin (6’1”/240) *Preview Scouting Grade: D-
A pure fullback. A top high school wrestler. Core strong. Good hands. OK athlete. Not as big, physical as you’d like in a fullback…but makes up for it with toughness. Solid FB prospect not a real offensive threat.
RB Jordan Scarlett, Florida (5’10”/213) *Preview Scouting Grade: D-
I didn’t see much here at all. A stiff runner without a lot of juice/pop. Tough/willing runner but no athleticism to back it up.
RB Qadree Ollison, Pitt (6’1”/225) *Preview Scouting Grade: D
Big back, but a very stiff runner. Gives a good effort but doesn’t show any real juice running the ball. He may not make it past year one in the NFL if he tests as slow as he looks on preview tape. I’m thinking he’s a 4.65+ 40-time with 7+ three-cone.
RB Ryquell Armstead, Temple (5’11”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade: D
Reminds me of a slower Marlon Mack. Scrappy mid-major RB. Runs with passion but is a little slower afoot (for the NFL) – probably a 4.6+ runner with 7+ three-cone. Could grind his way onto a roster or fill-in for an injury to a starter but not a future star here. Didn’t see it in my earlier previews and/or at the Senior Bowl week.
RB Nick Brossette, LSU (5’11”/218) *Preview Scouting Grade: D+
Very average running back…solid for college, weak for the NFL. Had his biggest games out of conference. Really low yards per carry against the better teams he faced. I don’t see anything too exciting here.
RB Benny Snell, Kentucky (5’10”/220) *Preview Scouting Grade: D+
Has the size but doesn’t run like a true power runner. Runs very upright and tries to dance through holes between the tackles, and he’s just not that high-end shifty to do that in the NFL. He’s solid, capable with an upside that he has the tools but needs to change his style to more power than finesse…but that’s easier said than done.
RB Alex Barnes, Kansas State (6’0”/220) *Preview Scouting Grade: C-
Has really nice feet for his size. Runs with that Le’Veon Bell style…slow starting, patient, and then pops through the hole. Only, Barnes is no Le’Veon. Not even close. Barnes is too slow (for the NFL) off the initial hand-off. His ‘patient’ running looks more like indecision and hesitation…and that’s a killer thing for him at the next level. There are tools to work with and good size, but nothing really stands out with Barnes as a runner.
RB Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma (6’0”/220) *Preview Scouting Grade: C-
Benefited from playing in Baker Mayfield’s offense prior to 2018. Can get going in the open field, probably a 4.5+ runner but not a great initial burst and runs more finesse/soft than you want to see form a bigger-bodied back. Have never been overly impressed the few previews of him that I’ve done.
RB L.J. Scott, Michigan State (6’0”/222) *Preview Scouting Grade: C-/C
The more I watch L.J. Scott, the more I wonder if he has more to give…like the Michigan State offense held him back at times. Other times, I’m wondering if Scott’s just a 4.6+ runner with average agility and nice 220+ pound size and can be a competent NFL runner but not a star. I see good hands, good vision, but not much of an ‘it’ factor. I can’t get settled on what I think of him from the visual studies.
RB Mike Weber, Ohio State (5’10”/214) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+
He’s a little more athletic Mark Ingram with better hands. He was supposed to be a star for Ohio State but he kinda fizzled from his 2016 season. Not sure why the fall off, there may be some off-field/locker room/effort concerns?
RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama (5’10”/215) Preview Scouting Grade: B/B+
I’m just never blown away watching Jacobs work. He’s a definite NFL RB talent – good speed/acceleration, tough, agile, can catch. He’s not great in any one area but good in all of them. It’s hard to judge Jacobs fully as he was lucky to get the ball 8-11 times a game. He ran for 100 yards (exactly) once in his college career. He wasn’t a workhorse in college, but would be expected to in the pros. It’s a leap of faith bet on him to be a lead RB in the NFL.
He feels/looks like a Nick Chubb or Sony Michel…they’re OK, capable…as good/weak as their surroundings…they have size and NFL athleticism…and they aren’t future Hall of Famers, but they’re good.
RB Damien Harris, Alabama (5’11”/215) *Preview Scouting Grade: B+
Every time I watch him play, study preview tape – I’m impressed. He just glides as a runner…so quick to accelerate, so naturally agile. He runs like Mark Ingram too, if Ingram were really fast/agile…almost like an Ingram-Kamara mashup result.
He didn’t have huge numbers for Alabama, but there was a sharing backfield with him and Josh Jacobs (and Najee Harris). If Alabama really wanted to, they could’ve given Harris the majority of touches and he’d have won a Heisman and then would have been a top 20 draft pick. His draft stock is top 50, now, not top 20, just because of lower count of touches in a powerhouse backfield – it’s a dumb reason the establishment sets his value on, but it’s real.
Neither of the Alabama twins (Jacobs and Harris) are the highest graded RB in this draft class. Tomorrow you will meet the most talented RB (regardless of designation/classification) in the 2019 NFL Draft…