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Looking ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft/Dynasty Rookie Draft, etc., prospects. We’re going position by position (except OL) and looking at the top 3-5 expert consensus prospects (not my top 5). I’m doing an abbreviated study of a couple game tapes and review the performance numbers through 2017 and giving my initial impressions on these prospects.
Scouting with just eyes is dangerous. I’d like to have my computer scouting models helping me, but we cannot use that tool until the pre-draft measurables, etc., are recorded. I’m a pretty decent talent evaluator of just tape after all the years, but not without flaw.
So, with that – here’s my first impressions of spending a little time with each prospect. I’m going to rank them from worst-to-best of the group and assign a school letter scouting grade as well.
RB David Montgomery, Iowa State (Early Prospect Grade: D)
Very disappointed in what I saw here. Overrated agility and burst. He does a lot of dancing and makes some neat, shifty plays in college that people watch in awe on highlights, but they don’t see the 5-10x other times where he dances and gets squashed behind the line of scrimmage. When Montgomery does shake a defender and get into open field, he’s easily caught from behind by faster defenders.
Montgomery gives a good effort, has solid hands, and has a good feel running the ball/good instincts. The problem is he may be a 4.6+ runner with 7.2+ agility in a 5’10”/215 body – a late-round or UDFA set of measurables.
RB Devin Singletary, Fla. Atlantic (Early Prospect Grade: D+)
I looked at this guy’s stats first for my study, and I was like ‘what the what?!?’ – 32 rushing TDs last season? 137.0 yards rushing per game? This guy has to be a monster!
Wait…what? He’s 5’8”/under 200-pounds? Huh?
OK, maybe he’s like a 4.2+ runner with all the right moves? Nope, he’s just a regular ‘good’/fast college RB playing in a savvy, fast tempo offense that caught Conference USA teams napping a lot. He’s ‘college good’ and the offense pushed him to greater output heights.
For the pros, he’s probably a generic 4.50 +/- runner with 6.9-7.0 three-cone times at under 200-pounds. Nothing special. Solid hands. Maybe he moves to a small WR role.
This is like a Donnel Pumphrey situation. Great output in a weak conference and everyone loses their minds and then the Combine reveals the true self.
RB Bryce Love, Stanford (Early Prospect Grade: C+)
So many analysts have Love as their #1 RB prospect for 2019 right now, and when I looked at his 2017 performance numbers – I was impressed. I was ready to be dazzled when I turned the tape on, but I really wasn’t. He’s definitely ‘good’, a legit NFL roster-able RB, but not ‘wow’ for me so far.
I see more a Stanford O-Line blowing opponents away and taking a very good college RB and opening giant holes and thus making him seem like a Rockstar. Stanford has done that for years now. Remember the great Stepfan Taylor – his college production was out of this world? Love is way better than Taylor, however.
Love has good quickness, shifty feet, and nice patience but he’s not much after that. He seems to go as far as the holes take him. He doesn’t have ‘create something out of nothing’ moments nor generates extra yards by his force or superior vision. He runs through space or gets hammered down quickly. He looks great on highlight reels and on paper, but I didn’t see the ‘wow’ with him. I had more questions than answers.
I know this…Love will have another great season because of Stanford’s system and the analysts will all fall in lockstep with him as a 1st-round RB -- but I don’t see that kind of talent on tape.
RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State (Early Prospect Grade: B)
A very intriguing RB prospect…a possible NFL ‘A-’. He’s a 5’9”/185 RB but what he lacks in size he has in speed and agility. He may measure off the charts at the NFL Combine in the three-cone and shuttle. Possibly a 6.6+ three-cone with a sub 4.0 shuttle. He has that kind of change of space, change of direction ability. Like a LeSean McCoy or maybe Barry Sanders.
I don’t want to paint too big a picture here. I didn’t think I was staring at an obvious star watching his tape. At his size, he has to thrive in a ‘role’ in the NFL. Some team has to know what to with him…or, more exactly, use him as a weapon – not just talk about it.
Hill is tough for his size. Shows some breakaway speed/burst. He has capable hands. He might really be dangerous at the next level in the right usage. He’s not an every down guy, but he’s a tough runner for his size. He doesn’t show the work horse instinct – he’s a minimal carry home run hitter. Give him the ball and hold your breath.
Again, I don’t mean to push the hype with the Barry Sanders name drop. I’m just sharing my initial reactions. He has really nice feet for evading and changing directions. He has NFL impact skills in a 5-8 carries, 5-8 targets per game kind of way. He looks pretty good, but I was never like ‘wow’; except for on a few sweet jump cuts.
RB Damien Harris, Alabama (Early Prospect Grade: A)
You can go ahead and plan for the apocalypse – yes, I like a pre-hyped Alabama prospect. On the first four names (above), I entered their study filled with hope and wonder, looking forward to possible discovering the next great young RB prospect. I have to admit – when I started working on Harris, I was pre-prepared to torpedo it as another overrated Alabama runner (Bo Scarbrough was going to be the greatest, and Derrick Henry, and T.J. Yeldon, and Eddie Lacy, and Trent Richardson).
I’m not afraid to admit it – I like Damien Harris…a lot. Possible ‘A’, possible ‘A+’ RB prospect. If he’s as good as I think he might be – his talent + ‘Alabama’ + the media worship of ‘Alabama’ is going to equal ‘bigger than Saquon Barkley’ hype if Harris destroys 2018 and wins a Heisman.
I’d plunk a $1 down on Harris as a shock Heisman winner. He’s 50+ to 1, maybe 100-to-1 at a quick glance (where I never see him listed in the top 20-30 names displayed).
Harris has the three-down tools…5’11”/220, and floats when he runs. He’s like a more nimble, less powerful Joe Mixon. He is very gifted showing patience in traffic and then punching it to fly through/past tacklers. He is so nimble that he avoids tacklers effortlessly. He’s the one guy of this group that I watched and immediately thought – you don’t see that kind of movement every day. My first gut reaction is Mixon is better, as an aside.
The hold up is seeing how Harris works as a true lead RB. He’s worked in loaded backfields, so he only got 10-15 carries a game and was not overused, which allows him to rack huge yards per carry (7.0+ the past two seasons). He could be a jaw dropper if asked to carry the offense…or he could wilt and reveal an issue.
Like with the QB group we previewed – there is one guy that stands out way ahead of the others. At RB it’s Damien Harris.