A Prospect A Day: Running Backs, Kenneth Dixon Scouting Report

Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech

6’0 216 lbs.

Dixon

OVERVIEW

Dixon is a stout, savvy and well-built runner that got better with every year of experience at Tech. He really emerged in 2015 when Driskel came over to start from Florida since prior to that, Dixon was the only offensive weapon for Tech.

Dixon, as a runner, prefers to get up-field quickly and take the first lane he finds. Once in the secondary, he becomes a little more creative and uses the field laterally. He has a brilliant spin move and a solid stiff arm to go with a wiggly juke.

Where Dixon really shines though is in the receiving game. He’s the best pure receiving back among the top prospects. He runs a full route tree with crisp precision and makes, at times, ridiculous catches. He’s a natural catcher and has exceptional sideline awareness.

He also has a great feel for setting up blocks and bouncing off tackles in the open field. He set the FBS record for most touchdowns in a career by a running back with 87.

RUSHING

Speed: 2 out of 5

Dixon is a rumbler, he makes his money with speed in the open field and does not possess great burst. His top-end speed is mostly average though and it could limit runs at the next level.

Power: 3 out of 5

He lowers his shoulder with the best of them and runs with great pad level, but he doesn’t seek out contact.

Field Vision: 12 out of 15

His vision is strong once he reaches the open field but struggles at the line of scrimmage. This is also why he’s incredibly effective as a pass catcher.

Balance: 7 out of 10

Dixon is able to keep his feet through contact but has no plays that really stand out and make you notice on tape.

Break Tackle: 6 out of 10

While he sometimes bounces off tacklers and runs through contact, he’s easily taken down in the open field with good form one-on-one.

Moves: 5 out of 5

He has an impressive spin move to go with a devastating stiff arm. He works in the hurdle and constantly uses a short juke to get in between defenders.

Run blocking: 3 out of 5

He has a natural feel for run blocking and has the body for it, but Driskel didn’t take off much for the Tech offense.

RECEIVING

Route running: 5 out of 5

Dixon runs a full route tree with elite-receiver-prospect precision.

Hands: 10 out of 10

With 33 catches in his senior year, including some absurd one-handed grabs and not a drop on tape, he looks as sure-handed as they come.

Run after catch: 5 out of 5

His 14.1 average per catch is absolutely absurd and his seven receiving touchdowns on just 33 catches mean that he scored 21% of the time he caught the ball. Almost one in every four catches was a score. Ridiculous.

Blocking: 4 out of 5

He plays like a natural and could probably be a tight end with his abilities as a run blocker. He stays away from perfect just by a lack of plays to review.

PASS PROTECTION

Technique: 5 out of 5

Dixon is highly aggressive and stout at the point of attack. He loves hitting pass rushers and keeping them down and often takes an extra pop on them at the end of the play.

Effectiveness: 5 out of 5

He gave up no sacks on tape and only once was a rusher close, he never missed a block either.

Potential: 10 out of 10

His size, skill set and aggression suggest he will be able to handle the better rushers in the NFL.

Total Prospect Rating: 82/100

NFL Comparison: Fred Jackson, RB, Seahawks

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Makes his money in the NFL as a versatile receiving threat. Both are incredible in the open field, and effective enough between the tackles to work as starters when called upon. Dixon might be even better than Jackson when all is said and done.

A Prospect A Day: Running Backs, Devontae Booker Scouting Report

Devontae Booker, RB, Utah

5’11 212 lbs

Assigntment 4

Utah Utes running back Devontae Booker (23) runs the ball into the end zone for a touchdown during the third quarter. The No. 5 Oregon Ducks play the No. 20 Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on November 8, 2014. (Taylor Wilder/Emerald)

Booker lacks elite running characteristics and tends to prefer running north-south to lateral movement. He does possess a devastating spin and shows adequate elusiveness in the open field.

His speed is only slightly above average but he does a fantastic job bursting through a crease for the maximum gain on a given play. He’ll need a strong offensive line at the next level since he isn’t much of a creator behind the line of scrimmage.

He has strong natural ability as a receiver out of the backfield that should keep him on the field for most offensive plays. He looks like an adequate runner, but perhaps a 1b option, if not a backup altogether.

He probably needs to put on some more weight to get more goal-to-go opportunities. His touchdown numbers were comparatively low versus the other top prospects at the position.

RUSHING

Speed: 4 out of 5

Booker replaces a lack of elite top-end speed with a strong burst and suddenness to his game that allows him to slide through even the smallest creases, and if a team’s secondary is even a step slow, he has enough speed to turn a run into the secondary into a touchdown like he did twice against Arizona State in 2015.

Power: 3 out of 5

He runs with plenty of aggressiveness, but it’s not his main weapon as a runner, preferring to slide by potential tacklers versus seeking out contact.

Field Vision: 12 out of 15

Booker uses an elite understanding of blocks at the line of scrimmage to rarely get stuffed but struggles at times once he gets past the first wave.

Balance: 9 out of 10

Booker’s balance is special, and at times it looks like it might be the best in the draft. He’s constantly picking up extra yards while stumbling facedown to the ground.

Break Tackle: 7 out of 10

He’s a strong runner, but again power isn’t the main part of his gain, and because of this, wrangling him around the ankles isn’t as difficult as it would be if he squared up into contact.

Moves: 4 out of 5

Booker has the best spin move in the class and uses it brilliantly and constantly. He also has a strong juke to go with the occasional hurdles and stiff arms.

Run blocking: 4 out of 5

This wasn’t a huge part of his game, but he did show some strong ability, especially in games which Kendall Thompson started.

RECEIVING

Route running: 4 out of 5

Booker actually has some diversity to his route-running game and is quite decisive and accurate.

Hands: 9 out of 10

There were no drops on tape, and he managed a few one-handers as well, this is only imperfect because he had under 40 catches in 2015.

Run after catch: 5 out of 5

He had an average of over 8 yards a catch and showed some good ability in the open field. Especially notable, his longest reception in the game was only less than 10 yards once and in seven of his ten games played in 2015 he had a reception of 20 yards or more.

Blocking: 3 out of 5

He didn’t see much action in this capacity on tape, but he never showed any sign of taking plays off so it’s likely if the play were to shift to his side, he’d throw some effective blocks.

PASS PROTECTION

Technique: 4 out of 5

A bit undersized, Booker can get overtaken by powerful rushers but makes up for it with good foot and hand usage and a solid cut block.

Effectiveness: 3 out of 5

Booker has trouble committing and that gets his QB in trouble sometimes, but when he properly identifies his assignment, he doesn’t typically give ground.

Potential: 9 out of 10

If Booker works on his assignments, he should have no big issues blocking at the next level.

TOTAL PROSPECT RATING: 80/100

NFL Comparison: Pierre Thomas, RB, Redskins

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Both have excellent balance and burst to maximize short gains and the feel and hands in the open field to be magnificent screen backs. Thomas has made a living being a jack-of-all-trades in the pros and I think Booker will do the same since his running ability by itself isn’t quite elite.

A Prospect A Day: Running Backs, Derrick Henry Scouting Report

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

6’3 238

Tape Viewed: 2014 vs. Michigan, 2015 vs. Ole Miss, 2015 vs. Georgia, 2015 vs. Wisconsin

Henry

A true volume runner, Henry runs with a purpose and has very solid pad level and gets more effective as the game goes on. This is especially shown in the Georgia game where the defense is clearly fired up to stop him and even forces a fumble early.

He seems to take it as a challenge and just becomes impossible to bring down with less than three men as the game goes on. He’s an adequate pass catcher but was a limited route runner in the Alabama offense.

He shows solid top-end speed coming downhill as a runner and excels as a one-cut specialist. When he gets up to speed, he’s difficult to bring down but he’s not sudden or quick from a flat start and doesn’t maintain speed laterally at an elite level.

He is a brilliant pass protector, and an adequate lead blocker. Benefited from excellent blocks on most of his long runs and could struggle without support at the next level.

RUSHING

Speed: 3 out of 5

Henry can get going downhill, shown on two long runs against Wisconsin, but it’s more dependent on the blocking to get him to the second level where safeties are usually already in the box to stop him. His top speed would be average in the NFL and slightly above-average burst.

Power: 4 out of 5

He runs angry, for sure. But has more finesse to his game than you’d expect for a man his size. Still, he can hit like a ton of bricks, this especially shows up later in games.

Field Vision: 11 out of 15

While he does a nice job working off blocks, rarely does his ability to read the field jump off of tape. The creases he runs through are fairly obvious and he doesn’t really use the width of the field, preferring straight-line running. This likely limits some of his gains.

Balance: 8 out of 10

While Henry can usually maintain his balance through arm tackles, he can get tripped up easily in the open field. He shows elite balance when bending around the edge.

Break Tackle: 7 out of 10

Henry needs to learn to use his size in this aspect, he should be able to break far more tackles than he does. It’s very good compared to most backs but he should not be brought down in the open-field or hammered at the line one-on-one and he was, at least a few times in the Georgia game.

Moves: 3 out of 5

Uses the juke and stiff arm well, had a half-spin that gained him some extra yards. None of his moves are terribly impressive and he mostly relies on burst and power to gain yards.

Run blocking: 3 out of 5

He’s an adequate lead blocker, but no blocks really stood out on tape as helping spring an offensive player.

RECEIVING

Route running: 3 out of 5

On tape, I saw Henry run 5 screens and a swing pass. He does a really nice job selling the block and whipping around on the screen. The swing was all right but he didn’t find the open space. Not much to see here. He should be adequate.

Hands: 8 out of 10

In 6 passes, he had one drop. The drop was more the result of a lack of concentration than anything else.

Run after catch: 3 out of 5

On the screens, he shows surprising wiggle to make defenders miss, there’s just not enough data to project much better.

Blocking: 2 out of 5

Looks lackadaisical at times and on a few plays would have been burned if the play had shifted back to his side, he takes plays off when he doesn’t expect the ball.

PASS PROTECTION

Technique: 5 out of 5

Henry gets solid pad level, squares up and pops with authority. He’s rarely out-leveraged and also has a really effective cut block.

Effectiveness: 5 out of 5

He never gives up sacks and rarely gives up pressure.

Potential: 10 out of 10

Has the frame and mean streak to be dominant in this aspect for as long as he plays in the pros.

TOTAL PROSPECT RATING: 75/100

NFL Comparison: James Starks, RB, Packers

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There are really no perfect comparisons for Henry in the NFL. He’s an uncommon specimen at his size but he and Starks are long one-cut runners who have good burst and run with power. They use field vision to set up blocks in the short area and accelerate into the secondary. Both are adequate pass catchers and Starks has shown he’s a solid volume runner when he’s had opportunities to start over Eddie Lacy.

A Prospect A Day: Running Backs, Ezekiel Elliott Scouting Report

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

6’0 225 lbs

Tape Viewed: 2014 vs. Michigan, 2014 vs. Wisconsin, 2015 vs. Virginia Tech, 2015 vs. Oregon

Elliott

Ohio State plays Indiana at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, November 22, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio.

OVERVIEW

Elliott possesses rare burst through the crease. He shoots through the line like a rocket into the secondary and can change direction laterally without losing speed. Benefited from running out of a spread, he’s an excellent run blocker that was used often in this capacity and also has the ability to receive out of the backfield.

What makes Elliott special is his mix of speed, field vision and balance, he uses these three traits to get to the secondary, and bust through arm tackles to finish for touchdowns more often than most.

Elliott has some strange lapses in concentration on tape, resulting in fumbles but they show up rarely and are likely the result of youth and slight inexperience. He is a very impressive prospect with a compact frame that could maybe stand to add a little bit of muscle weight in his legs.

Already a brilliant prospect in 2014, he upped nearly every facet of his game this past season and put an exclamation point on it by rushing for 149 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame.

 

 

RUSHING

Speed: 5 out of 5

Elliott may not put up a blazing 40 time, but his burst is rare and he has the speed to run away from defensive backs, while never losing it when moving laterally.

 

Elliott Burst speed

Outrunning the highly talented and athletic Alabama defense is nothing to sniff at. Elliott really burst onto the national scene with this dominating performance on the big stage.

 

Power: 3 out of 5

He rarely lowers his shoulders for trucking moves, but he’s definitely a load to bring down and runs with a physical presence.

 

Field Vision: 14 out of 15

Perhaps the best aspect of Elliott’s game, he works off excellent blocking from his lineman but rarely fails to find the crease when it’s there. On his long touchdown runs, this ability really shows as he dances through lanes deep into the secondary, easily transitioning from lateral to vertical movement.

 

Elliott burst, field vision, elusiveness

Giv via SB Nation. Elliott shows his graceful dance through Oregon’s secondary for a long touchdown. He sets up the block by WR Michael Thomas (3) and uses burst to get through the crease.

 

Balance: 10 out of 10

Had some brilliant moments on tape, including maintaining balance to burst for 2 more yards and a touchdown against Michigan, he shows rare ability in this aspect.

Elliott balance

After being tripped up, Elliott regains his balance almost immediately to burst up-field, turning a loss into a gain.

 

Break Tackle: 7 out of 10

Rarely goes down on first contact, but can get blown up one-on-one.

 

Elliott Break Tackle

Gif via SB Nation. Busts right through the tackle to walk into the end-zone, despite the tackler squaring up and getting low.

 

Moves: 3 out of 5

Has a nice juke and hurdle but rarely, if ever, uses a spin or truck.

 

Run blocking: 5 out of 5

Really nice lead block to spring QB Cardale Jones for a TD against Oregon. He has very good awareness of how a play develops and uses that mixed with tenacity to be a force in the run game even without the ball.

 

RECEIVING

Route running: 4 out of 5

There isn’t a lot of data here, but he looks to be a fine route runner who could develop at the next level.

 

Hands: 8 out of 10

One drop on tape. As long as he’s focused, he’s reliable as a receiver out of the backfield.

 

Run after catch: 3 out of 5

A natural athlete in the open field, can make a play when there’s cushion, but lacks elite wiggle to get away when the defense is a little tighter.

 

Elliott hands

Elliott runs a nice little swing, creating the necessary cushion, completes the catch and gets up-field for the touchdown, bursting through a tackle and finishing forward.

 

Blocking: 4 out of 5

Much like his ability in the run game, when asked to block for receiver’s downfield, he’s willing and able. Came back from ten yards downfield to spring WR Braxton Miller for a touchdown against Virginia Tech

 

PASS PROTECTION

Technique: 4 out of 5

Squares up well and has solid pad level but can get lazy with his feet causing him to lose balance when someone comes at him with a bull rush.

 

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5

Bowled over by current-Packers linebacker Jake Ryan, nearly gives up safety to Oregon DE Gus Cumberlander. Other than that, Elliot is very stout in pass protection, he did not give up a sack on tape.

 

Elliot pass blocking

Elliott helps pick up the rusher as he bursts by the blocking tight end on Jones’ blindside. It’s not always pretty, but Elliott gets the job done in pass protection.

 

Potential: 8 out of 10

Looks like this could be a strength to his game at the next level, I don’t think he’ll be elite but neither do I think he’ll ever be a detriment in this area.

 

TOTAL PROSPECT RATING: 82/100

NFL Comparison: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers

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No real weak points in their respective games. Elliott and Bell share incredible burst to pull away from defenders and the field vision to find those lanes and creases. Bell is a more accomplished pass catcher but Elliott has shown all the ability to develop in that role. Both are three-down backs that should never come off the field.

 

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