The RotoViz Running Back Prospect Sweet 16 Tournament matches the top incoming prospects in a head-to-head March Madness style format. Various RotoViz writers break down each match-up with the winner moving on to the next round.
Let’s get into today’s matchup!
(6) Ronald Jones vs (11) Royce Freeman
Matt Wispe – Royce Freeman
While I like Jones, I’m not sure that there’s much of a case to advance him. Freeman is arguably the most productive RB in the class and appears to be, at minimum, an equal athlete. Freeman has three seasons over 200 carries, three seasons over 1300 yards, and averaged at least 1.0 receptions per game all four years.
Anthony Amico – Ronald Jones
This one is really tough for me, as I’m a fan of both players. On the one hand, Freeman was a terrific collegiate producer, managing to be efficient while proving to be athletic at the Combine. He also broke out at a younger age than Jones, despite finishing his career at an older one. Jones, meanwhile, was another efficient player and looks to go far higher in the actual draft. His model projection is that of a Round 2 success, while Freeman’s is that of a Round 4 miss. Jones is the youngest RB in the class, and a year and half younger than Freeman despite similar final year production. He gets the narrow win here for me.
Blair Andrews – Royce Freeman
This one is close enough that I’ll take the discount on Freeman. In a vacuum I prefer Jones–he should be much faster than his combine 40 time indicates (he pulled up injured on his first run), and is the youngest RB prospect in the class. But this is not a vacuum, so Freeman’s production and significantly cheaper cost is enough to give him the slight edge here.
Cort Smith – Royce Freeman
It’s hard to fade an electrifying talent like Jones, but the price premium you’re paying for him seems to be based almost entirely on age. Yes, Jones heads to the NFL as the younger prospect, but Freeman was an extremely productive player in his four-year career and is too cheap to pass up here.
Jordan Hoover – Royce Freeman
Jones is an exciting prospect but as others have mentioned, cost of acquisition is the deciding factor for me. Freeman costs less, averaged 110 ruYDS and 1.2 ruTDS per game over his career, and posted an 85th percentile Speed Score.
Dave Caban – Royce Freeman
It’s hard for me not to advance Jones. However, Freeman’s production in all stages of his college career is hard to deny. He was workhorse that posseses good size, and solid speed and agility. Though Jones is impressive for a player of his age, I have to give the nod to Freeman.
Jeff Matson – Royce Freeman
Jones has done remarkably well for himself as an undersized collegiate player, but I have to take the bigger, faster back here.
John Lapinski – Ronald Jones
Even though Freeman will likely be a lot cheaper, I’m giving the nod to Jones here. Freeman checks all the boxes of a guy with very good production and athleticism, but I can’t shake the suspicion that he might be partially a product of the system he played in. Maybe it’s because his Workhorse Score actually decreased over the course of his career and wasn’t all that impressive in his final two seasons.
Scott Smith – Ronald Jones
This may be the toughest decision in this whole bracket. Freeman has an uber-productive college resume. Freeman followed that production up with better than advertised athleticism for a 230-pound RB. His 3-cone time (6.9) was especially impressive and surprising. Jones has been no slouch over the course of his three years at USC. Jones managed to put up over 1,000 yards from scrimmage every year in college. Ultimately, this may come down to style preferences. Jones offers the big play ability while Freeman will be the bigger back with a better receiving background. Unfortunately we don’t have full combine numbers on Jones to get the full scope of the differences here. Projecting Jones will require a little bit of a leap of faith but I will lean in his direction.
Ryan Bobbitt – Royce Freeman
As Anthony highlighted earlier this year, Chubb and Freeman have seasons of at least 200 rushing attempts, a YPC of 6.0, at least 15 receptions, and a YPR of at least 10. Freeman fell one reception short of hitting those numbers again this year and would likely have made it if he didn’t forgo Oregon’s bowl game. Jones has age on his side and was also efficient with his touches, but I’ll take Freeman who is going five picks later in early DLF rookie ADP.
Hasan Rahim – Royce Freeman
Freeman was extremely productive in college and only improved his stock at the NFL combine. Although Jones has the upper hand given his age, Freeman could possibly fall to the mid-second round in rookie drafts.
In our first upset of the tournament, Freeman beats out Jones in strong fashion. The RotoViz staff agrees that both of these players have talent, but the reduced price tag of Freeman, along with his outstanding career production and Combine performance, was just too much for our writers to resist. Freeman moves on by a vote of 8-3 and will face the winner of Rashaad Penny and Kalen Ballage in the next round.