The RotoViz Scouting Index (RSI) tracks NFL draft prospect rankings from a variety of traditional scouting sites, giving you quick insight into how incoming rookies are currently being valued over in “real football” land.
This serves as a counterpoint to our usual stats-and-metrics based analysis. Discovering where the stats and film crowds agree and disagree is not only fun but often illuminating. We’ll track the rise and fall of player values throughout the draft season and assess the impact on player fantasy valuations. We’ll be aggregating rankings from a half-dozen popular and well-respected sites.
NFL DRAFT RUNNING BACK PROSPECT RANKINGS
Make sure to read the introductory article to this series so you understand where the data comes from and how the scores are calculated.
THE TOP RUNNING BACK PROSPECTS
Despite his overall score dropping, Royce Freeman was able to claw his way back to No. 8 in our RSI rankings. This pushed Mark Walton, who was also passed by Nyheim Hines, down the board.
Ronald Jones made the biggest jump of the week with his RSI score rising 11 points. In addition to moving ahead of Nick Chubb, Jones also boasts an average ranking that’s better than Sony Michel’s.
The Jones Freeman Void
There must be something in Jones’ film that doesn’t bear out in his measurables or collegiate record as Jones wasn’t able to advance through the first round of our RB Sweet 16. He was defeated by Freeman 8-3. It’s interesting to compare the profiles of the two backs at NFL. Jones’ overview paints him as an electric, big-play type of rusher.
Jones is a classic slasher with the wiggle and explosiveness to elude open-field tacklers and then burst to chunks of yardage.
Freeman’s profile, on the other hand, indicates that the explosiveness he showed early in his career was lost after suffering a knee injury. His size and vision are the traits called out in his overview.
He has outstanding size and is a natural runner with good vision who could step into an early starter’s role — especially if teams believe he can handle third down snaps as well.
The “weaknesses” section of his profile questions his running style and burst.
Has become more of a grinder than a slasher as his career has moved forward . . . Lacks an explosive “get-away” gear to pull away from tacklers.
The thing is, Freeman didn’t lose his explosion after the injury. In fact, he increased his percentage of carries that went for 20 or more yards by nearly two percent. Freeman suffered the injury in late September of 2016. During the 2014 and 2015 season, Freeman carried the ball 534 times and recorded 27 rushes that went for 20 plus yards. Between 2016 and 2017, he did so 28 times on only 407 carries. Further, Freeman recorded four rushes of 40 plus yards in each of these time frames.
While it’s easy to frame Jones as the explosive rusher and ding Freeman for the injury,1 the two posted similar breakaway records in college. Jones did outpace Freeman in rushes of 40 or more yards, but at 15, 20 and 30, the two recorded similar percentages. Further, Freeman had more rushes of 15-plus yards than any other back in the class.2 While I can understand why some rankers would place Jones ahead of Freeman, the 20-point disparity in RSI seems larger than it should be.
- A problem Chubb is dealing with as well. (back)
- You may notice that the numbers reported in the tables are slightly different than those posted in an article focused on breakaway runs. In this article, I have included runs that are greater than or equal to the threshold. In the previous article, I only included greater than. (back)