Absolute treasure trove for anyone waiting to see which direction the RB wind might be blowing for Matt Waldman.
In Waldman fashion, he goes alphabetically (first name) through many backs that nobody but their own mother is aware of, but you will definitely get a taste for what he's thinking for any RB of consequence. A lot of cold water is thrown on the depth RB options that have been gaining some traction in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of rookie drafts. However, one of those guys is quite clearly the Waldman chosen one based on an uncharacteristic comment that is short and sweet -- starts with a T.
A couple of the top 1st round rookie RBs take a direct shot to the bow too. After a lot of negativity, it ends well with a couple of Z
RBs that' everyone is well aware of. The Zach Evans "winter slide" might be over if you're like me and value what Waldman has to say about these backs.
While worthwhile, it's still a long listen given the sheer number of backs that he runs through. Here's the gist I got from the backs that matter most:
Tyjae Spears - "
Which NFL team is going to be charged with larceny within 24 months of the NFL Draft?"
Zach Evans -
As good, if not better at some facets of running the football than Bijan. There are character concerns after recruiting saga and reported run-ins with coaches. Could reach career peak Clinton Portis levels.
Zach Charbonnet -
Slow back with good feet. If he doesn't get beat up too badly in the combine metrics, he's ready to call him an Arian Foster starter kit.
Roschon Johnson -
Former QB once compared to Kellen Mond. Intrigued. A lot more of a RB than Taysom Hill. He seems confident he will have a role in an NFL backfield, with legit reasons to believe he could be an NFL starter.
Toa Taua -
Nevada RB that's now on my radar. He wants to see acceleration testing in 20-shuttle. Thinks he might have the acceleration, footwork, and power to contribute at the next level and be one of the most surprising backs of the draft.
- Youngstown St RB now on my radar. This is the package that people think that they're getting in Jahmyr Gibbs. More explosive version of Gibbs, but not sure how he will hold up playing at 183 lbs. (FWIW, espn has him at 195)
- So Car RB , that split time with Kenneth Walker at Wake for good reason. Played through a foot injury at SC. Creative. Some Lesean McCoy vibes, but could be more of an Eno Benjamin. One of the more intriguing backs that nobody is talking about.
(+) POSITIVE / NEUTRAL
- Nothing too noteworthy. Better in gap than a zone scheme, which is the direction the NFL has been moving. Not bad in zone but not elite, not sure how well he would transition mid-career.
Kendre Miller -
Lamar Miller comp. Smooth, with power and vision. Can be a starter. Keeps pads too high at times. Smooth gait. Wants to see how explosive he is in 20-shuttle.
- A lot of positivity, but the obvious question on whether size will allow him to be more than a gadget contributor. Miniature CMC in the same way that Sproles was a miniature Marshawn Lynch. Gap runner comfortable weaving through tight traffic, efficient use of dynamic movements, curvilinear movement tag.
Devon Achane -
More neutral. Straight line runner with bend and cutting. First impression was that he wasn't powerful or creative, but saw it the deeper he went. Lamichael James comparison at a time when the NFL was not spreading the field as much. Leaves it open as to whether he'll end up as a committee option like Gainwell or find a bigger role in an offense.
Tavion Thomas -
one-cut, quicker feet than credited, rarely used in passing game. Has rushing skills to be an effective committee back, but probably more of a backup.
Evan Hull -
Jeff Wilson vibes. Better zone than gap. NFL reserve player, but might have enough to be more.
- OR State RB. On the outskirts of being a Fournette, but don't think there's enough explosion.
Tank Bigsby -
Physical, looked more explosive in '22 than '21, but wonders how good the acceleration is. Needs to be more disciplined bouncing plays outside. Draft capital could sink depending on outcome of 20-shuttle.
Kenny McIntosh -
Will belong in the lineage of UGA RBs as an NFL caliber player, but not seeing starter or instant impact player at next level. Size, acceleration, and decision-making to contribute in a gap heavy offense is there. Blocking and receiving skills reliable but not high end. Zone runs are not there, gap only. Lacks top-end speed and decision making. Explosive enough to play, but not expecting him to ever be a Tony Pollard.
Questions of acceleration and speed. Thinking fringe contributor.
- okay acceleration. don't think there's enough to be anything more than a reserve in the NFL.
- Could be NFL contributor, thinking he's a better fit in the CFL.
- Doesn't press blocks well. Dynamic with moves. Can play in space, but not good in traffic.
(-) DOESN'T SEEM TO BE A FAN
-- You'll probably need the RSP to learn the extent of not being a fan, Needs to press blocks longer, too quick to cut back. Needs to clean up pass protection. Really not enough here to conclude that Waldman thinks that he doesn't belong in the top half of 1st round rookie drafts, but definitely not one of his guys at this point.
-- Really the same as above, maybe a little more vitriol. Needs to mature as a perimeter runner and take the early crease inside instead of bouncing it out. Needs to be more patient. Bad decisions at the second level. Wins at the sideline, best RBs win at the middle of the field. Speed to be a gamebreaker.
Worth noting that some of the "hate" for these two might be in context with how much hype they're getting.
Chase Brown -
Slow processer, but made it work at college level. Not sure he's as good as some people are saying.
- Lapses reading leverage, trouble in gap zone, not sure that he has the acceleration.
-- Ball security and pass protection concerns. Makes decisions with cutbacks he shouldn't. Not very dynamic. A roster candidate, but needs a significant spurt to reach Zamir White level.
-- Like Lew Nichols, but with even more question marks. Don't think he can be Rudi Johnson.