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: ‘Speed RBs’ (smaller, quick, 3rd-down type projected RBs)
Tomorrow’s planned group: ‘Small WRs’ (smaller, speedy, slot or possession type WRs)
2019 NFL Combine Scouting Preview/Ranking: Speed RBs
RB James Williams, Washington State (6’0”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade: F
After watching some preview tape, I’m left wondering…how did he get an NFL Combine invite? He doesn’t belong here. Flimsy runner, weak career output in a very favorable offense, and bad hands/poor catching technique. No, thanks.
RB Miles Sanders, Penn State (5’10”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade: F+/D-
Tentative runner. Has some burst but seems to hesitate into any type of congestion. Not impressed with his runner instincts, frame, or hands.
RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma St. (5’10”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade: D+
He’s not terrible…it’s just he’s small, shifty with no real power to his running game. He’s a low-end ‘change of pace’ guy in a league that has ‘change of pace’ guys who could lead the league in rushing if given a chance. Hill is just a fast-footed, nice RB for college…average (good) speed and not much else for the NFL.
RB Travis Homer, Miami (5’10”/195) *Preview Scouting Grade: D+/C-
A scrappy runner. Thinner-frame that needs bulking up. Looks like a competent 3rd-down type RB. I didn’t see anything special here. Capable with limitations is the best thing I could say. Not sure he’s draft-worthy.
RB Alexander Mattison, Boise State (5’10”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade: C-
A Dalvin Cook-type back. Not huge, but not small. Not fast, but not slow. Tough, capable, not a star. Has decent hands. Can ran between the tackles OK. He’s NFL-worthy, but he’ll be good or forgotten depending upon his landing spot.
RB Bryce Love, Stanford (5’10”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade: C-
Good straight-line speed, iffy agility. He won’t be able to run between the tackles in the NFL like he was able to in college. He feels like another, typical Stanford RB – great tallies in college, a washout in the pros (McCaffrey excluded).
Love had a big 2017 (2,118 yds rushing/19 TDs) and then came back to earth in 2018 (739 yds rushing/6 TDs). He’s just not that good. He should run a 4.4+ 40-time but go 7.10+ in the three-cone. He’s got some ‘Ronald Jones’ in him. He’s not terrible, but he’s way overrated.
RB Jalin Moore, Appalachian State (5’10”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade: C-
Average athlete, average size, tough/high effort runner. Smart move through traffic/sensing holes, but not always explosive through them. He’s good/useful for the NFL. Nothing special, but likely to stick around for a while because he has such savvy running ability. He gets a lot out of his talent. Runs like Marlon Mack.
RB Dexter Williams, Notre Dame (5’11”/215) *Preview Scouting Grade: C-
Has a bigger Tevin Coleman vibe/style – a great breakaway runner, but average as a runner in traffic and suspect hands. Not sure he can be a main carry workhorse RB in the NFL.
RB Elijah Holyfield, Georgia (5’10”/212) *Preview Scouting Grade: C
The more I watch, the more I don’t love. He’s OK. Had a nice 2018 season for ypc (6.4) but only carried the ball 11+ times a game. He looks like a nice college RB, but a forgettable NFL RB. Not a workhorse runner, but solid as a 7-10 carry per game guy…but suspect hands (only caught 7 passes in his 27-game college career). A lesser Marlon Mack type runner.
RB Myles Gaskin, Washington (5’10”/195) *Preview Scouting Grade: C
The more I watch of him, the more I see an average/useful NFL RB…one who got great touch counts in college (and thus bigger numbers). 945 carries and 65 catches in his college career – over 1,000+ touches…that’s a lot of mileage. He looks capable…definitely not a #1 RB. More like a James White-type. Good hands. Can run it well enough. Not a game breaker at all.
RB David Montgomery, Iowa State (5’9”/212) *Preview Scouting Grade: C/C+
A lesser Alvin Kamara-type. Not a big back but runs tough/is hard to get your hands on and keep down. Has decent speed and very nice agility. Very smart, intuitive runner and can catch. Might be a ‘B’ grade before long. So-so ypc over his career, but also was focused on by defenses and made hay out of a lot QB changes over the past couple seasons.
RB Darrell Henderson, Memphis (5’9”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+/B-
He’s like a better Dalvin Cook or better Devonta Freeman…but is the kinda guy that could rush for 1,000+ yards in a season in 2019 or be buried. If you get the Devonta treatment…you’re a rich man. You get the Wendell Smallwood treatment and your career will be going to waste for the first contract. He’s very solid/good, but not so good that a team will build touches around him. He’ll likely get his chance when a starter gets hurt.
RB Tony Pollard, Memphis (5’11”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+/B-
Very NFL-useful because he can do it all – runs the ball solidly, is a very good+ pass catcher…and great return man (7 kick return TDs in 87 career returns). He may end up being the most useful/productive RB from this draft…like a more explosive James White.
RB Devin Singletary, Fla. Atlantic (5’9”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+/B-
The first time I previewed Singletary (months ago), I was not moved. The more I watch, the more I see how talented he is. 54 rushing TDs the past two seasons is no joke. Singletary is not physically imposing, but he is a very tough runner with good enough speed and real nice agility. He has great balance – he absorbs hits and keeps going, and it’s kinda stunning at his size. Singletary reminds me of a better Wendell Smallwood – tougher and more elusive runners than you think at first glance.
RB Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M (5’9”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade: A-
If Phillip Lindsay was bigger, and more agile…he’d be Trayveon Williams. Arguably the best pro prospect RB at the NFL Combine this year. Stellar agility…an ankle-breaker in the open field. Makes defenders miss often. Isn’t a power runner but will lower his shoulder into tackles. He’s got nice balance and toughness…takes hits and stays upright. Breaks a lot of arm tackles…causes a lot of arm tackles because he can’t be captured easily. Decent hands in the pass game and breakaway speed and agility as a runner. The only limitations will be by his head coach and O-C.