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2017 NFL Draft PREVIEW Scouting Report: RB D’Onta Foreman, Texas

Date:
February 22, 2017

‘Preview’ scouting reports are when I take a look at a small amount of tape and overall output data we have on a non-QB prospect before the NFL Combine and complete a preview report on what I’m seeing before I do a larger scouting study after the NFL Combine or Pro Days. Our computer scouting models cannot function properly without the NFL Combine and/or Pro Day data, so I’m not committing to these scouting reports being my definitive word on the prospect. Using what we have, I wanted to take a glimpse at some of the bigger names to share what I see initially.

As I was looking at the national top 20 running back prospects on different websites there was a name that kept grabbing my attention – and I would never see him among the top five RB prospects, it was only 50-50 he’d be listed within the top 10 RB prospect. The name, obviously, was D’Onta Foreman. The reason his name stood out was because he’s listed at 6’1″/249. That’s a big dude at running back. I assumed he was more of a fullback – more of a guy who probably scored a bunch of TDs and had something to offer the NFL as a short yardage specialist because of his size/power. This was what I thought before I laid eyes on him or looked at any of his data. Why would I think otherwise when he’s barely among the top 10 running back prospects for this draft?

Once I clicked on to his college game logs, I was shocked by what I saw. The guy rushed for 100+ yards every game in the 2016 season. That’s not necessarily a guarantee for NFL success, but I was stunned to see all of his carries and all of his production at 240+ pounds.

Now, after being highly intrigued with a quick look at his career output – I went to the tape. It didn’t take long for me to exclaim: “How the hell is this guy not universally among the top five running back prospects in this draft class?” Are you kidding me? A 240+ pound running back…some say 250 pounds…that can move like 215-220 pound running back? That’s right…that’s what I see. Excellent speed/shiftiness for a guy his size. We might as well debate his size while I’m thinking about it – is he really 6’1″/249? Probably not. I suspect he’s around 6’0″+ and closer to 240 pounds than 250 pounds. But make no mistake – he’s a ‘big dude’.

I was in awe watching his tape. Such a breakaway speed for his size. Very nice balance – hard to bring down…240+ pounds tends to do be that way with a running back. He’s not a violent runner, but he’s not a pure finesse ballcarrier either. He’s an odd (but good) mix – he runs/moves like a more nimble 220+ pound running back but brings the 240+ pounds size to go with it. He’s not a ‘head down and tries to run you over’ type of monster. He’s more of a legit looking for holes, looking for an opening to run through and he has the speed to dash through it…and he’s just hard to bring down with any arm tackling because of his size. You could argue Foreman needs to use his size as a weapon a little more.

What was stunning to me was watching how many times Foreman hit the second level and then pulled away from would-be tacklers. It’s stunning to watch a 240+ pound running back pulling away from linebackers and safeties as he completes a long run and/or long TD. He’s just not a short yardage grinder. What makes him borderline special to me is that he’s nothing like short yardage runner. He’s a seven-footer in the NBA that can shoot like a guard from the outside. Foreman shouldn’t be so quick/nimble. He’s potentially a better version of Derrick Henry…only Foreman played without the benefit of the All-American offensive line nor over-televised seasons of exposure. If D’Onta Foreman were a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide — he might break every record there ever was in college. I don’t mean that Foreman is the greatest running back in the history of college football – but he’d be the perfect runner for Alabama. As good as Derrick Henry was, I believe Foreman is a better version of him.

So why in the hell is D’Onta Foreman barely ranked among the top 10 running backs for this draft? I’ve done a basic study of most of the not-top three RB names – they’re not all that great after the ‘big 3′ (Fournette, McCaffery, Cook). Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara should never be ranked ahead of Foreman…ever. You’re completely out of your mind if you have Kamara ahead of Foreman…which at this point includes just about everyone involved in football analysis.. This is what I thought until I stumbled over the following…

And then I discovered the reason why Foreman is not among the top names…besides playing for the not-respected-in-this-era Texas Longhorns — it’s because Foreman has a fumble problem. Brace yourselves…six fumbles in 2016…and all six of them lost. He has lost eight fumbles in his last 13 games going back to the end of the 2015 season. That’s not good…and it is head scratching for someone his size.

What’s the problem with him fumbling so much? I’m not sure. I would say this – it looks like it might be fixable. Foreman claims he had a broken hand no one knew about (said this after the season). I only watched limited tape, but when I saw Foreman fumble it was pretty simple stuff. You might think he’s such a beast that’s he’s hard to bring down and thus leaves himself open to defenders trying to pry the ball out in a pile of humanity. It’s not that at all. Because Foreman plays with more finesse, I don’t see him that often in a giant pile carrying defenders on his back for extra yards… more often, it’s defenders trying to catch him from behind as he’s racing away. Most of Foreman’s fumbles (that I saw) were solo hits with the ball in a bad position and it just popped out. I need to look at more tape, and I’m not a fumble correction expert, but I have to believe the issue is correctable – unless his hand size comes in like a joke (tiny) at the NFL Combine.

Let’s just say this – if the fumble issue didn’t exist with Foreman, you’re looking at one of the three top running back prospects in this draft. Pick one of the big three to kick out because Foreman is a freak that belongs among the top of the names – if not for the fumble issues. However, I think despite the fumbles…Foreman is such a freak of nature that his uniqueness alone should have him among the top-five running back prospects for this draft. Arguably, a top three guy.

I’ve seen a lot of running backs hit the NFL that are similar to Dalvin Cook. I’ve seen even more like Alvin Kamara…decent, not special. They don’t build many like D’Onta. Foreman. I cannot wait to see what his NFL Combine numbers are. Quite possibly, if the hand size is good and the speed pops…then because of the size – Foreman is going to move up among the top five running back prospects.

 

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics. 

Learn more about RC and the College Football Metrics system >>