Three Draft Prospects To Watch For 2017: Running Backs Part Two

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The Detroit Lions May Be Interested In Drafting A Running Back!


The Lions have struggled to run the football for awhile now. One of the reasons for that is Ameer Abdullah has struggled to stay on the field. In the two games that Abdullah played in this season he showed promise. He may not be the prototypical between the tackles runner but he can get the job done in that area as well as providing some big plays and receiving skills.

One of the biggest knocks on Abdullah is he has had fumbling issues in the past. In 2015 he coughed the ball up five times. In the two games he appeared in in 2016 he didn’t have any fumbles but that’s just too small of a sample size to say that Abdullah has improved in that area.

The running backs that the Lions are relying on without Abdullah: Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington haven’t performed very well. Riddick is a very talented receiving back so he will always have a role in the offense. He isn’t nearly as good of a playmaker when he is handed the ball as opposed to when the ball is thrown to him. The Lions would be best off handing the ball off to other running backs and allowing Riddick to save his energy for catching passes.

The other running back, Dwayne Washington, has struggled to do much when he has carried the football. He has had a hard time finding holes to run through, that may not be entirely his fault however even when the offensive line does open holes f0r him, he usually still doesn’t find them.

The Lions would benefit from adding a physical running back to help carry the load. Abdullah would be helped by the fact that it would decrease the amount of hits he takes, which would make it more likely that he could stay healthy, and Riddick could still have his role as a receiving back.

2017 Draft Class: Running Backs Part Two

This draft class looks like it will be deep in the running back department. The guys featured in the original running back article will likely be taken in the first round, with the possible exception of McCaffrey who might end up slipping to the second round.

Running back isn’t the biggest need for the Lions so it’s unlikely that they take one in the first or even the second round. They could still find a solid back after the second round however. Some options for them are Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, Oregon’s Royce Freeman, and Georgia’s Nick Chubb.

Samaje Perine- Oklahoma

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Perine has been a large part of Oklahoma’s offense since his freshman year. The 5’10” 235 pound player has been very productive during that time. So far during his three year career he has 631 carries for 3,797 yards and 47 touchdowns. In case you don’t feel like doing math that’s six yards per carry, which for a power back like Perine is pretty solid.

Opposing defenses need to be prepared for a battle when they face Perine. He’s a strong runner who runs through arm tackles and is hard for any one guy to bring down.

The junior is also a decisive runner. When he identifies a running lane he runs through it hard. Also he has very good balance and always seems to finish runs falling forward.

One thing that Perine has working against him is he’s not a great pass blocker. Part of the reason for that is it’s just not something he’s asked to do very often so he could improve with more reps.

Another negative is that he’s not an elusive back. That shouldn’t hurt him too much because he breaks tackles using his strength.

Something else that may raise concerns is that his production has dropped every season that he’s played. The main reason for that is Joe Mixon. Mixon’s another back on Oklahoma’s roster who will also play on Sundays at some point.

 

Royce Freeman- Oregon

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Freeman is another running back who has had a very productive college career. The 5’11” 230 pound junior has logged 703 carries for 4,148 yards and 44 touchdowns.

He is a powerful runner but also has impressive quickness and explosiveness. Also Freeman has excellent vision. He’s able to identify holes and explode through them.

A couple other strengths for Freeman are that he is a pretty good receiver who has even played out wide and in the slot at times, and he’s an adequate pass blocker.

Sometimes Freeman tries to do too much and goes for big plays instead of just taking what he can get. Another weakness of Freeman is that he only has decent speed.

Nick Chubb- Georgia

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Chubb is another stout running back at 5’10” and 228 pounds. Like the other two backs featured he has been a major part of his teams offense since he was a freshman. Throughout his career the junior has racked up 518 carries for for 3,282 yards and 28 touchdowns.

One thing that is obvious when watching Chubb is that he’s a powerful guy. Defenders who just throw their arms at him or just lazily attempt to wrap him up usually don’t find much success. He also has very good vision. He isn’t super elusive but he has good lateral quickness that he uses to make cuts and make guys miss.

The major red flag for Chubb is that he suffered a pretty bad knee injury during the 2015 season. He suffered ligament and cartilage damage. It looks like he has recovered well from the injury however so it shouldn’t affect too bad.

Another negative for Chubb is that he isn’t a great receiving back. Also like the other two backs in the article he doesn’t have great straight-line speed.

Chubb’s stats have dropped this season from what he was doing his freshman year and last season before his injury. In 2014 and 2015 combined his yards per carry average was 7.4. This season he’s average 4.8 yards per carry. Part of the reason for the drop is most likely that he’s coming off of a knee injury. However the main reason is probably because the Georgia offense as a whole has been struggling compared to years past.

I really hope you enjoyed the article! Follow me on twitter @CHayes95 and join the discussion on the Lions subreddit!

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About the Author

Cory Hayes
I attend Central Michigan University, I am majoring in Journalism and minoring in Sport Management. I am a junior. I am from Marysville, MI. I love following sports, both professional and collegiate. I follow the Lions, Pistons, and Tigers very closely, and the college team that I choose to cheer for is Ohio State.