The running back position has enjoyed a resurgence in the past few years. After a couple years of not seeing a running back taken in the first round we have seen five taken in top 15 picks over the last three drafts. This year's class definitely does not seem as deep as other drafts and with the top prospects being underclassmen the pool can get even shallower. Here is a look at how a few prospects performed during week 2.
Royce Freeman-Oregon RB, Sr, 5-11, 231lbs
Freeman runs with great patience and intelligence. He showed that he can wait for his blocker to get into their blocks then make the right choice of how to attack the defense. Seeing his listed weight I expected him to be a powerful runner and he didn't disappoint. When Freemen gets north and south he is a load to handle and will run through arm tackles.
Being able to sharply change direction is not one of Freeman's strengths. Freeman will not be a "stick your foot in the ground and go" type runner. His footwork approaching the line is a little sloppy and led to him stumbling a few times. There were too many instances of Freeman having to take an extra step in order to change direction. Also, he did not show the ability to jump cut.
It will be hard for a NFL team to judge how Freeman will fit into their passing scheme, if at all. His involvement in the game was extremely minimal with only 1 catch and very few targets. I would question his ability to be on the field on third down due to his poor blocking technique. Even more troubling was that Freeman looked almost disinterested in running pass routes.
IN THE END:
As it stands Freeman looks to be a situational "downhill thumper" type back. I do not see him being a feature back at the next level but can still have some success. Look for him to be drafted in the middle rounds of the NFL draft.
Nick Chubb-UGA RB, Sr, 5-10, 225lbs
Opponent: Notre Dame
Chubb ran with good vision and was able to find alternate holes when primary hole was plugged. Unlike Freeman, Chubb did show that he has the agility and footwork to make jump cuts at the line and bounce outside.
There was something missing from Chubb's carries vs ND. Chubb didn't look to have blazing speed last year but he had an ability for using his quickness and strength to shed tacklers and create big runs. While he broke a few tackles, defenders were not bouncing off of him like they did last year. It almost looked as though he was running cautiously.
The timeshare in the UGA backfield is maddening for someone evaluating the game. Both Sony Michel and Nick Chub had exactly 13 carries and a reception each. What stood out in this timeshare is that Michel was hands down the choice for obvious passing downs and 3rd downs. If this continues, Chubb will undoubtedly will have questions swirling around him regarding his pass catching and pass protection abilities.
IN THE END:
Chub showed enough of his cutting ability and vision to keep him in the upper tier of running back prospects. However, if he does not take on more of a role in the passing game it will limit his stock come draft day.