“Hey, Matt, can you tell me everything I need to know about running back Charcandrick West in fewer than 1000 words?”
“Sure can, Rick.”
“My name’s not Rick.”
“I don’t care. I’m making a bad pun. Char-can-drick . . . sure can, Rick . . .”
“Oh, OK . . . charry on.”
Let’s get to it.
Charcandrick West: The Athlete
Over the next few days, you might hear about how West ran an absurd 4.27-second 40-yard dash at his 2014 pro day. That’s true, but his 40 time was aided by a 20 MPH wind.
Against the wind, West had a 4.47-second 40 time. Regardless of the wind, that 40 time is decent for a guy who measured in at 5’10” and 204 pounds. When one considers that he did that running into the wind, that 40 time seems pretty good. Regardless of however you choose to treat his 40 times, as a straight-line runner West is athletic enough to be an NFL RB.
Of course, 2014 Jamaal Charles-backup Knile Davis is also athletic enough to be an NFL RB . . . but that’s a different article.
At his pro day, West also displayed strong explosion, with a 41-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump. As leaper, he is elite.
West, however, is not very agile, performing the three-cone drill and short shuttle in 7.08 and 4.40 seconds, for an 11.48 Agility Score, which is very subpar for a mid-sized RB.
Now, there are RBs with good straight-line speed and explosiveness and poor agility who have success in the NFL. In general, though, those RBs tend to be bigger and to look like Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, and DeMarco Murray . . . and Knile Davis.
This is not to say that West can’t be a productive NFL RB. He could be. This is just to say that the small and mid-sized RBs who have NFL success typically don’t have an athletic profile similar to his. Rather, they tend to be agile. For instance, as prospects Charles, Ray Rice, and LeSean McCoy all displayed strong agility in their pre-draft workouts.
Charcandrick West: The Player
A 2014 undrafted rookie out of Abilene Christian (FCS/DII), West has done little in the NFL on which we can evaluate him. He did well in the first 2015 preseason game, turning nine touches into 87 total yards, but it’s a small sample and preseason performances can be unreliable. Honestly, the most impressive thing we can point to right now that West has done as a professional is pass Davis on the depth chart.
To get an idea of who West is as a player, we need to look at his college stats. After three years of being a productive committee and backup RB, West broke out as a 22-year-old true senior in ACU’s first year in the Southland Conference and the Football Championship Subdivision, having moved up from the Lone Star Conference in Division II.
Playing in 11 games as a senior, West had 145 carries for 906 yards and 14 touchdowns rushing. More impressively, he added 32 receptions for 443 yards and two TDs receiving. Although he didn’t become a true lead back until his final college season, at least he was productive before entering the NFL.
On a percentage basis, West turned 52.5 percent of his team’s 2013 non-quarterback rushes into 55.1 percent of its yards and 60.1 percent of its TDs rushing. That’s pretty decent, and if one factors out the four games in which ACU blew out its opponents by more than 28 points and gave a significant number of touches to second- and third-string RBs in unrepresentative situations then West looks even better. With this adjustment, West has a strong 81.8 Workhorse Score. That score isn’t elite, but it is comparable to what we have historically seen from the cohort of late-round and undrafted RBs who have had NFL success.
For a guy competing in his first year at an elevated level of college competition, West did pretty well as a senior. He was a true workhorse and a capable receiver. There is nothing about his production profile that signals that he can’t be a productive NFL RB.
Charcandrick West: The Fantasy Stud?
Basically, the picture I have painted is of a guy who is probably “good enough” as an athlete and a small school producer to be a useful fantasy asset. I said the same thing about C.J. Anderson last year . . . and Daryl Richardson the year before that . . . so I have a mixed track record. And, by the way, D-Rich was also from ACU, if that means anything to you.
Based on who West was as a prospect in 2014, I can say this about him: The biggest determiner of his future success will likely not be his athleticism or his raw ability as a football player. It will likely be the number of times per game Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid decides to give him the ball.
In key ways, West is similar to Reid’s three previous mid-sized stud RBs: Charles, McCoy, and Brian Westbrook. He’s also dissimilar from them in key ways.
If I were forced to wager, I would bet that those similarities make Reid give West at least 15 touches per game in the short term.
I would also bet that those dissimilarities make West nothing more than a flex option or RB2 instead of a RB1 in the intermediate and long term.
Matthew Freedman is a football writer for RotoViz, Pro Football Focus Fantasy, Fantasy Insiders, and DraftKings Playbook. He is (not) the inspiration for the character in The League who shares his name. He hosts the various RotoViz podcasts and PFF Radio’s College Daily Slant. He is the creator of the Workhorse Metric. You can follow him on Twitter @MattFtheOracle — but I don’t know why you would.