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No Clarity on Jordan Howard and other Running Back Updates

There have been three updates of the Rotoviz Scouting Index (RSI) since the NFL combine and there have been some winners and losers during that timeframe. Shawn Siegele did a thorough job of breaking down the different comps associated with the post-combine time period.

I’ll go through the movements of the last three RSI which are version eight, nine and ten. All of these are authored by the great Charles Kleinheksel. 

As Charles pointed out in his recent update, the biggest riser in the RSI over time has been Wendell Smallwood and following him was Tyler Ervin. Those that fell the most were Tre Madden, Devon Johnson, and Aaron Greene.

Jordan Howard’s Three-Cone and Peyton Barber

Jordan Howard has bounced in both directions in the last three RSI which were all post-combine. Much of this is a combination of other running backs moving up in rankings and waiting on Howard’s pro day.

Now we know that Howard ran anywhere from a 4.5 to a 4.6 forty during his pro day. He also apparently posted a 7.0 or more three-cone. I write those ambiguously because the results are based on the observations of others and because they’re pro day results. Keeping in mind Kevin Cole’s research regarding pro day times, I’m reminded not to get too excited about them. In general these results are less actionable than results from the NFL combine. 

Overall Howard’s about where Shawn Siegele expected him to be with the exception of a slightly better three-cone. Howard’s pro day results and lack of NFL combine information move him further away from the optimism of having Le’Veon Bell’s upside.

As I was plugging in numbers from Howard in RotoViz’s Box Score Scout App, I did notice some similarities between Howard and Peyton Barber. They are similar athletically with close speed scores and three-cone times, though Howard has much better college production.

J Howard and Barber Prospects

Regarding Barber, I think he’s being overlooked as do both Jon Moore and Charles Kleinheksel. It is worth noting that during spring practices last season, Barber revealed he had an undiagnosed learning disability when he first came to Auburn which slowed his ability to learn the playbook. This could have contributed to him not getting on the field early.

Variables that will help Barber to make a roster include that he’s known as a capable blocker and according to NFL.com he had the lowest stuff rate of SEC running backs this past season.

Between Howard and Barber I still take Howard easily due to the production profile, but I like the idea of selecting Barber much later in a rookie draft and getting some value from him.

Why Nobody at RotoViz talks about Kelvin Taylor

Any running back that drops five spots in the post-Combine RSI and has very little written about them at RotoViz deserves to go under the microscope. Prior to the combine, Kelvin Taylor was ranked as the seventh running back in the RSI. As of this writing he has dropped to 13th. At only 207 pounds, he ran a disappointing 4.6 forty which gives him a speed score in the bottom third percentile.

While looking through his weekly game logs I noticed that Taylor was quite game script dependent. In competitive games he was given more than 20 carries and he had some good results (such as averaging 5.7 yards per carry on 24 carries versus Florida State). There, I found one positive thing to write about Kelvin Taylor.

What I don’t like about him is that he’s not an accomplished receiver and his athleticism gives little reason for excitement. There are also questions about his blocking abilities. Taylor will need a great landing spot before I’d draft him in a rookie draft.

Jhurell Pressley needs some attention

Thanks to a pro day forty time of 4.38 and a three-cone of 6.92, there’s been some buzz regarding Jhurell Pressley. He didn’t show up on the RSI but is a name to watch during the UDFA signings following the draft. Pressley had an impressive career at New Mexico while in a heavy time share with another running back and a triple option quarterback. In fact, all three had exactly 147 carries this past season.

What I like most about Pressley is his speed and athleticism exhibited by his SPARQ score of 132.2 which is in the 92nd percentile according to Player Profiler. He also led the nation in highlight yards per opportunity in 2014 according to football study hall

His negatives are that he’s not an accomplished receiver, he doesn’t have a special teams background, and he’s already 23.9 years old. As mentioned before look for him to get his shot as an UDFA following the draft.

Further Movement 

Justin Winn recently made a strong case that Daniel Lasco is the third best running back in this class. Following his positive results during the combine he moved up three spots in the next RSI and he moved up a total of 10 spots since the first rankings were released to finish 11th. However, the majority of our think tank here at RotoViz were not impressed as Lasco got edged out by Alex Collins in their recent bracket showdown here. You see my vote in my rankings below.

My Current Rankings

1 Ezekiel Elliott
2 Derrick Henry
3 CJ Prosise
4 Kenneth Dixon
5 Devontae Booker
6 Daniel Lasco
7 Paul Perkins
8 Jordan Howard
9 Tyler Ervin
10 Alex Collins

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