Much of the de-emphasis on the RB position every year when the Draft rolls around, at least in recent history, is due in large part to the current pro emphasis on passing attacks. But there are some other major factors in play. With the seeming “equal” ability of more players these days chances of grabbing a good RB later in the draft process is an accepted concept by most NFL personnel people. Then there are issues of player longevity, with the RB position due to the pounding associated with each carry the player takes.
But there is one other factor that I have been a student of for several decades, and that is trying to figure how much tread us left on the tires of RB coming out of college, based primarily on touches they have had during their college career. Drafting a player into the League is not like buying a brand new car straight off the assembly line. It is more like buying a used vehicle, and mileage already on the odometer, from college play, is important. If we can’t afford a brand new vehicle, most of us want a low mileage, slightly used one.
So, I have checked into my top ranked RB prospects for this year’s NFL Draft pool and ranked them based on how much wear and tear is already on their tires.
The list starts with the slightly used models and works its way down to the guys who may exhibit signs of diminished touches left on their wheels.The list is confined to carries and catches, followed of course by the total touches number. The rank assumes that less is more.
1) C.J. PROSISE NOTRE DAME 6’1/220 166 carries & 62 catches = 228 Ttl
The converted WR almost looks like someone turned back the odometer. But despite the low mileage he showed a propensity to get nicked up & miss playing time in 2015.
2) TYLER ERVIN SAN JOSE STATE 5’10/192 526 carries & 87 catches = 613 Ttl
He’s under 6-foot tall and carries less than 200 lbs. on his frame. Here is the strange, caveat; despite his size and a 4.41/40 time at the Combine he did much of his college work between the tackles.
3) DERRICK HENRY ALABAMA 6’3/247 603 carries & 17 catches = 620 Ttl
His mileage is pretty low, but he was asked to carry 395 times in 2015. So he might, at the very least, be tired entering the pro game.
4) EZEKIEL ELLIOTT OHIO STATE 6’0/225 592 carries & 58 catches = 650 Ttl
Elliott’s odometer is reasonable, but imagine if he went back for his senior campaign and tacked on an other 300+ touches. He’s a prime example of why top RB hardly ever play a senior season in college.
5) JORDAN HOWARD INDIANA/ex-UAB 6’0/239 647 carries & 24 catches = 671 Ttl
He’s near the middle in touches but has already missed some serious game time with his upright, straight ahead running style.
6) JOSH FERGUSON ILLINOIS 5’10/198 505 carries & 168 catches = 673 Ttl
I would contend that FERGUSON is a bit less used up than those around him because his catch count is so high. I don’t think hits on a receiver are as damaging as those on rushers. With all due respect all you wideouts.
7) ALEX COLLINS ARKANSAS 5’10/217 665 carries & 27 catches = 692 Ttl
COLLINS had to come out early given how HC BIELEMA rides his RBs til they drop. And COLLINS had also shed about 10 lbs. last year to get faster/quicker.
8) PAUL PERKINS UCLA 5’10/208 621 carries & 80 catches = 701 Ttl
Now we are getting into my warning zone at over 700 touches. He’s a solid guy, but not exactly a heavyweight. He has good hands and might make a solid 3rd down option/change of pace back.
9) DEANDRE WASHINGTON TEXAS TECH 5’8/204 605 carries & 124 catches = 729 Ttl
Lots of receptions and his darting quickness helps him avoid some of the potential direct hits on his legs. But he’s not low mileage by a long shot.
10) DEVONTAE BOOKER UTAH 5’10/212 754 carries & 89 catches = 843 Ttl
One has to look carefully at his resume’. I have included his touches from a frosh year playing at the JC level. Everything counts, when hits are involved.
11) KENNETH DIXON LOUISIANA TECH 5’10/215 801 carries & 88 catches = 889 Ttl
DIXON would be a 2nd rounder on talent alone, but his volume of college touches would indicate that his NFL career might be fairly brief. Too bad.
12) KEENAN REYNOLDS NAVY 5’10/191 978 carries & 0 catches = 978 Ttl
What do you expect from a true option QB after 4 years at Navy. This is why I project him to the WR position as a pro, not RB. Think JULIAN EDELMAN!
You can see the pattern here. Nothing is guaranteed, but longevity and usage seem to directly correlate in almost every scenario. So if I am drafting KENNY DIXON, I project him as a short term fix. You can’t change the “tires” on a human being. I consider this concept to be another piece of the player evaluation process. If you don’t believe this concept, then I have a honey of a car deal for you, and we won’t worry that the odometer is disconnected!