Sooner or later when you take your car into the garage for preventative maintenance the technician will look you square in the face when handing you back your keys, as well as presenting you with a bill for the damages, and say “You might be in need of new tires the next time around. Your tires are getting a bit light on their remaining tread.”
Well, it’s that time of Draft prep when Pigskin Paul likes to take a look at the RB prospect group and talk about how much tread some of these young men may have left on their body after toting the rock for their college teams. Of course there is no exact number to tell you when a player is used up, but it seems safe to say that the body reacts to wear and tear over time. So just for chuckles let’s take a look at how much wear and tear the top 15 RB for the 2017 Draft have subjected their bodies to over the course of their college careers.
Here are my Top 15 RB for this year’s Draft and how many times they have taken the ball from scrimmage, thus exposing themselves to the poundings of multiple defensive tacklers.
LEONARD FOURNETTE/LSU. 616 rushes + 41 receptions = 657 touches As you can see over 90% of his contact came on runs. One could probably make an argument that suffering through some nagging lower leg injuries during the 2016 campaign held down the overall ravages of contact required under the 3-year eligibility rule for Draft entry and actually helped his long term health projection. We all knew what he can do with the ball after two seasons. Low mileage count for a big, power back.
DALVIN COOK/FLORIDA STATE. 687 rushes + 79 catches = 766 touches Over a hundred touches more than FOURNETTE, with a history of missed time while nursing a banged up body for a game or two multiple times in his 3-year resume’ for the Seminoles. Not a frightening number of touches, but he might be well served to add a few pounds of padding to his currently lean frame if he can do so without losing quickness/explosion.
CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY/STANFORD. 632 rushes + 99 catches = 731 touches This might be considered a highly desirable number and mix of touches by NFL personnel people. And if you have been following the Draft prep process then you know he is really emphasizing his receiving skills over his running ability in workouts right now. In today’s NFL many teams treat short passes to their RB as nothing more than long handoffs, getting their RB more quickly out into space. At 5’11/202, McCaffrey is not likely to last long as a pro if he’s taking a pounding from rush carries too often. He is also an excellent return man so that has to be factored into his potential NFL career of 25 touches per game… max.
JOE MIXON/OKLAHOMA. 300 rushes + 65 catches = 365 touches Another bonus for teams with MIXON if they can see their way past his punching video to draft him. He was suspended for his frosh season by HC Stoops for that incident and then alternated carries with PERINE for two seasons. Thus he has avoided heavy college mileage and might even be termed ‘gently used’. Logic says he’s got plenty left on his powerful 225 lb., muscled frame.
ALVIN KAMARA/TENNESSEE 210 rushes + 74 catches = 284 touches Thanks to some early off-field issues and the transfer to the Vols program, BUTCH JONES hardly got this guy broken in. He is by the far the least used guy in this position group. As long as a team is comfortable that his resume’ is thick enough to trust, then another bargain might be looming here in terms of longevity. He also has a pretty nice padded frame at 5’10/214.
MARLON MACK/USF 586 rushes + 21 catches = 607 MACK was lucky enough to have some quality backs to rotate with during his BULLS career. He also has a tendency to take carries out to the boundary because of his good burst after taking the hand-off. Not used much at all as a receiver in college, his overall tread life looks pretty good right now.
BRIAN HILL/WYOMNG 775 carries + 41 catches = 816 I saw a few expressions of surprise that he declared to come out a year early, but look at that carry total! And he’s pretty much a between the tackles runner. He’s proved his value with the ball in his hands with a solid 5.5 ypc average for his career. He’s the heavy lifter so far on the list.
JAMAAL WILLIAMS/BYU 726 rushes + 60 catches = 786 touches Not an unreasonable number of carries, but more than enough. He did get one season off (2015) because of a school rules violation, and came back to have best season in 2016. That’s about average wear and tear, and teams like his frequency of trips into the end zone at 36 for his career.
JEREMY McNICHOLS/BOISE STATE 571 rushes + 60 catches = 674 touches Packing 215 lb. on a squat 5’9″ frame makes him a very difficult guy to get a squared-up hit on once he gets out to open spaces. And his overall total of hits puts him slightly below average for a used commodity on this list.
KAREEM HUNT/TOLEDO 782 carries + 73 catches = 855 touches I really enjoyed watching HUNT work during his Toledo career. He’s a hard runner with good instincts. Reminds me a bit of Kenneth Davis/La Tech, last year. But that comparison is based on good part on the heavy volume of load they both carried for their teams. Over 850 touches takes a toll, and he’s far from a finesse runner. I worry that these tires are very well worn.
SAMAJE PERINE/OKLAHOMA 685 rushes + 40 catches = 725 touches There is nothing in the least bit subtle about Perine’s running style, and it subjects his body to an incredible amount of contact. He missed all, or parts, of multiple games because of being “dinged up” as he plowed on for 3 years between the tackles. He may a bit like the vehicle that has been in the body shop way too many times already, never mind the actual tire wear.
MATT DAYES/NC STATE 550 rushes + 98 catches = 648 touches DAYES is another guy who has shared backfield time in college, thus sparing his body a bit of wear. His 249 carries as a senior was his heaviest workload to date. He should have considerable tread left on his tires and his best may be yet to come as a professional.
JAMES CONNER/PITT 668 rushes + 30 catches = 698 touches The wild card in measuring the tire tread for COONER is his battle with cancer just two years ago. His heaviest work load came back in 2014 when he carried the ball 298 times. Scouts may appreciate that he appears to worked hard on his receiving skills during his cancer recovery period. His 21 catches last season were more than his previous 3 year total. We certainly wish him nothing but the best, but many health care professionals use a 5-year mark to measure a patient being cancer free. Give ’em hell, James!
ELIJAH McGUIRE/LA-LAFAYETTE 710 caries + 130 catches = 840 touches This number of touches is pretty high, but his high catch total and the fact that he spread the load out over 4 seasons somewhat mitigates that fairly high total of 840 touches. He also has a nice solid frame to absorb some collisions at 5’11/214. But however we spin it, he’s the third most used RB on this list.
DONNEL PUMPHREY/SAN DIEGO STATE 1059 carries + 100 receptions = 1159 touches This number is just plain insane. Especially when you throw in the fact that he’s 5’8/176 lbs. Yes, I agree he can make himself skinny and avoids a lot of hits, but my eyes say his tires are bald. But then again he’s been doubted all along and still broke all Marshall Faulk’s career marks at State, as well as passing a tank named Ron Dayne as the NCAA’s leading career rusher. He already has defied all logic in his career, but he would NOT even be on my team’s Draft Board! That said, I will be rooting for him to make me look silly!
That’s a look at the top RB, based on past usage as they hope to embark on NFL careers. No matter what the previous wear and tear, and lack of tread left on your tires, good luck guys!