As we move through the offseason, there is still work that we can do to prepare for fantasy football in 2020. For starters, the rookie running back class is loaded with talent. I have already outlied the top 9 incoming players at the position. Now, we continue with Rookie RB Film Scores Part 3.
10. Eno Benjamin – Arizona State
Film Grade: B+
Eno Benjamin offers great potential but more for his receiving ability. His pass-catching ability sets him apart from most rookies playing position. Benjamin’s best physical trait is his burst. That quick step allows him to be electric in open space whether it is running the football or as a receiver after the catch. Otherwise, Benjamin had slightly above average scores in footwork, body position and balance.
The Biggest question in Benjamin’s game is his vision. He especially struggles with finding holes on outside zone runs. However, he is not much better on inside zone plays. Benjamin’s best hope for NFL success is likely with a team running a gap scheme.
With his pass-catching ability, Benjamin arguably has the highest ceiling of any RB featured in this article. However, his potential scheme limitation makes him a risky prospect to invest in without knowing the landing spot.
11. Antonio Williams – North Carolina
Film Grade: B+
Antonio Williams has some of the best footwork I saw in this entire rookie RB class. I have him with equal footwork scores to Jonathan Taylor and Darius Anderson, who were both in my top 10 overall. Williams his the vision to set up blockers and to use his footwork to fool opponents. He is also ranked 11th in my burst analysis which allows him to bounce runs to the outside when needed.
One area of concern with Williams is his tendency to run upright. I have him ranked 28th in body position score. That is comparable to JaMycal Hasty and A.J. Dillon from the previous article. However, both those players ranked inside the top 5 in balance scores. Williams is at 21 in that regard. His higher center of gravity when running is causing him to get tackled and not gain yards as easily.
Williams also needs to improve upon his pass-protection technique. He often overextends when attempting to block and actually ends up missing defenders more often than not. Without an impressive receiving profile in college (23 receptions in 4 years) and the pass-protection woes, Williams will not likely get a passing-down right away in the NFL. However, if he can work on lowering his pad level, he could be productive on the ground.
12. LeVante Bellamy – Western Michigan
Film Grade: B+
LeVante Bellamy ranks inside the top 10 for three important categories in my rookie RB evaluation. Those categories are body position, balance, and burst. Bellamy understands leverage and how to lower his center of gravity in order to gain extra yards after contact. When plays are well blocked, Bellamy has a good initial step to enable him to reach top speed more quickly. This is all rather impressive considering that he has not always been an RB.
Bellamy is a former wide receiver and changed position after his second season in college. His hands are not the reason that he switched as he can haul in passes that are away from his body. Bellamy’s dual skill set should translate well to the 21st century NFL offense. However, his pass-protection needs work both in technique and in identifying the blitz. That could cause coaches to limit his time on the field.
Bellamy is still learning the proper RB footwork as he ranked 27th in this class in that regard. Having only played the position full time for a few seasons, it is understandable that he is a step behind. Still, Bellamy could still develop that footwork with more experience at running the football.
13. Jonathan Ward – Central Michigan
Film Grade: B+
Of all the RB prospects that I evaluated for this series, Jonathan Ward received my highest footwork score. This is mostly due to Ward’s ability to keep his feet moving through contact. This helps with maintaining momentum on running plays. Ward also does well to plant and point his feet in order to fool defenders before changing direction. His burst score is about average so his quick footwork is important for Ward when gaining initial yards.
While Ward demonstrates a technical mastery of RB footwork, it does not, however, translate to other parts of his game. He ranks 24th and 25th respectively in body control and balance scores respectively. Ward’s ability to keep his feet churning does not always prevent him from going down on first contact.
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One advantage that Ward has entering the NFL is that he lined up at times outside the backfield. The slot was the main area out of which he would run routes. It is not as if Ward ran a diversified route tree, as he ran a lot of screens, crosses and swing routes. But his ability to either line up in the slot or motion out there is a tool that NFL offense like to exploit in order to set up players in their best possible positions.
14. Ke’Shawn Vaughn – Vanderbilt
Film Grade: B
Ke’Shawn Vaughn may be one of the most consistently average RB prospects in various regards. That is why a B grade feels appropriate, nothing outstanding but nothing horrible either. His best trait is likely his excellent footwork. Vaughn often keeps his feet moving through contact and has a great economy of movement when cutting, never taking too many steps. This ended up giving Vaughn a ranking of 6th on by rookie RB footwork rankings.
Vaughn also graded out well in the burst category as he wound up ranked 11th. However, that is where the stand out traits end. His body position and balance scores are below average. Frankly, it appears that Vaughn does not have the strength to survive contact and gain extra yards. This was also shown in his pass-protection. Vaughn is often in the right spot and has the instinct to pick up the blitz. However, he is often overpowered by pass-rushers.
His identification in pass-protection translates to his vision when running the football. Perhaps more so than most RB prospects, Vaughn will need great offensive line play in order to be hit in the backfield as little as possible.
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15. Tony Jones – Notre Dame
Film Grade: B
Tony Jones ended my film process with the highest body position score from all incoming rookie running backs. He maintains a low pad level when taking on contact. Jones also keeps his body square to defenders both when running downhill and when moving east-west. This excellent body position gives him an edge when it comes to cutting and changing direction.
Jones is ranked below average in every other main category for my rookie RB evaluation. His footwork could use improvement and he goes down on first contact more often than not. Jones’ burst is nothing special but he does possess enough top-end speed. He will need great offensive line play in order to showcase that athleticism in the NFL.
His route running is mostly limited to screens or swing routes out of the backfield. Jones has decent hands as he can catch passes in traffic. He is also able to make over the shoulder receptions when further downfield. However, his pass-protection technique and vision need improvement as he is prone to missing his assignments. If he cannot better his pass-protection than Jones may be relegated to an early-down back only.
16. Ty’Son Williams – BYU
Film Grade: B
Ty’Son Williams has had one of the strangest paths to the draft of any prospect, let alone RB. He transferred twice during his college career. That and an injury history prevented him from playing a full season more than once (2017 was the only time he played all 12 games). Most recently, Williams’ 2019 season was ended after a torn ACL.
His best trait is arguably his contact balance. On tape, Williams will take extra hits but still manage to remain upright. According to my rookie RB analysis, Williams is ranked 8th in balance and 11th in body positioning. His low pad level and tendency to square up to defenders enable Williams to gain extra yards after contact.
I have Williams ranked 26th in burst score. Getting that quick acceleration off the initial step is something that has eluded Williams. After the ACL tear, he may even lose a step. Because of the injury, it is possible that Williams falls off of draft boards completely. We will have more information at the draft when NFL teams will let us know what they think of Williams based on where he is drafted (if he is selected at all).
17. Michael Warren – Cincinnati
Film Grade: B
Michael Warren is one of the most average RB prospects that I evaluated. He ranks 14th in both body positioning and balance scores. Furthermore, Warren ended up at 17th in footwork score. While his technique isn’t flawed, there is also nothing special to Warren’s game. He gains the yards that he should but not often much more. Warren is not great at creating yards on his own and he requires a solid offensive line in order to produce.
Furthermore, Warren is ranked 27th in burst score among the incoming RB class. He has decent speed when he is given space to get to full stride. However, Warren is lacking that quick initial step in order to propel his momentum forward as quickly as possible.
Arguably, Warren’s best trait is his pass-catching ability. He can easily adjust to an overthrown football as he can high point a catch with his hands. Warren also transitions well from making the catch to running after the reception. This, in spite of his lackluster burst score. Warren also runs a rather diversified route tree for an RB. He can line up all over the formation in order to run seam or wheel routes. If he can carve out a pass-catching role, then Warren could be well set-up in the NFL.
18. Toren Young – Iowa
Film Grade: B-
Toren Young exemplifies the difference between skills and talent. Young ranked 8th among all rookie running backs in footwork grade. Young demonstrates the proper foot technique when running and keeps his feet moving even when taking contact. Those skills will translate to the NFL.
However, where Young may be lacking is in natural talent. His 29th ranked burst score is indicative of a player who may not be able to reach what top speed he has. It’s great to run fast off the field, but the opportunities to run a 40-yard dash in-game are extremely rare. Young will struggle to produce if the short area bursts are not present. That is how running backs create separation.
Running backs can make up for poor burst if they can get extra yards after contact. However, Young’s balance grade is ranked 21st among the incoming RB class. So if his burst is not enough to create yeards, and his contact balance is lacking, Young my have trouble producing at the next level. If Young winds up running behind an elite offensive line, then he may find the path to success.
19. Lamical Perine – Florida
Film Grade: B-
Lamical Perine certainly has some impressive traits. For instance, he ranks at #2 among rookie running backs on my balance score. This is a tough player to bring down. Perine is often gaining yards after contact and is able to fight through some tackles. He also ranked 9th in body position score. Lowering his pad level certainly helps with his ability to power through opponents. Perine could immediately step into a successful role as a short-yardage back.
Picturing Perine in an expanded role is difficult to do. His footwork could use some work, although he is fairly mobile for a player of his size. He is not afraid of contact, and in fact, his tape shows that he may look for contact too often. That way I see it, Perine doesn’t have a choice. I have him ranked 31st in burst grade. In my evaluation, Perine struggles to separate due to a lack of speed but also an initial step that is not particularly explosive. While his top speed is not overly impressive, Perine still takes time to reach that high-end speed.
Considering his lack of high-end athleticism, Perine is still a decent pass-catching back. In that regard, his hands are his best trait as his catch radius is quite impressive for an RB.
Thank you for reading Rookie RB Film Scores Part 3. Be sure to visit Full Press Coverage for more great content regarding the 2020 NFL Draft.
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