Devin Singletary Is A Shifty And Tough Runner That The Detroit Lions May Target In The 2019 NFL Draft.
The Detroit Lions are almost certainly candidates to try and add another back in the offseason. Whether they add through the 2019 NFL Draft or through free agency is yet to be seen. While the Lions probably won’t be looking at a running back before the middle to late rounds, if they opt to dip into the pool of draft prospects, they will have plenty of talent available to look at for a change-of-pace back behind Kerryon Johnson.
Among those that the Detroit Lions may choose to target is Florida Atlantic University running back Devin Singletary. While he may not be a perfect fit for what the Detroit Lions try to do on offense, he has a lot going for his game, and should be able to find a productive role in the offense.
The thing that immediately stands out about Devin Singletary is his effort. Singletary is an undersized back that will probably weigh in around, possibly a shade under, 200 pounds. That’s smaller than ideal for an NFL running back, but his lack of size doesn’t show up in his running style.
Devin Singletary runs with a “won’t-quit” attitude and fights for every yard that he can get. “Feisty” might be the best word to describe the way he runs. He doesn’t quit on a play until the defender has gotten him to the ground and the whistle has blown. It sounds cliche, and maybe it is, but turn on his tape and try and tell me that you don’t see it.
The next thing that immediately pops on his tape is his vision and anticipation. Devin Singletary has a knack for finding creases when there seems to be no ground to be gained, creating yardage on his own, and adjusting his runs to immediate penetration. His ability to plan out his first move as a defender gets instant penetration is a huge asset. He consistently finds ways to gain yards on plays that appear to be broken from the beginning. He is starting his jump cuts as he is taking the hand off and finding ways to turn negative runs into positive runs.
Singletary does an exceptional job of finding the proper lanes in zone runs and does a fantastic job of manipulating defenders into improper gaps so that he can exploit them in the lanes that he want to run in. His body control and ability to change directions in an instant are impressive, and he uses those tools with success around the line of scrimmage.
Devin Singletary’s ability to change directions translates really well into open field, where he shows the ability to make defenders miss and minimize contact from defenders. He has among the best balance in this running back class, something that is truly impressive for a player of his size, and uses it to capitalize on his ability to keep solid hits from defenders to a minimum.
He isn’t ever going to be a player that is going to run over defenders, but he runs with enough toughness and balance that he can run through arm tackles and shows the consistent ability to bounce off tacklers that don’t wrap up and drive through him. You don’t normally expect yards-after-contact to be a part of a smaller back’s game, but it is certainly a part of Singletary’s. He keeps his legs churning and does an excellent job of working through contact, especially at the second level where he has a little more space to maneuver.
While Devin Singletary is an exceptionally sudden runner, I’m not sure that he is a particularly fast or explosive one. He wins more with the quickness of his cuts than the explosiveness of them, and he doesn’t seem to have the top end speed that you look for out of a smaller back. He may never be the home run threat that you would hope for out of a back of his stature.
His toughness definitely shows up in his pass protection. Singletary shows that he welcomes contact and physicality and is willing to stick his nose into traffic and take on bigger defenders. I don’t know that his size is ever going to allow him to be particularly effective at this in the NFL, but he shows that he isn’t afraid to try.
While Devin Singletary hasn’t had a lot of work in the receiving game, his limited reps in this area show that he has the ability to create separation with his routes and has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. This looks like it is probably an area where he will be more effective in the NFL than he ever was in college, strictly due to his lack of usage in college.
If an NFL team can find ways to get him the ball out of the backfield and in space, he should be able to thrive as a receiver in the NFL.
While the Detroit Lions don’t run nearly as many zone-run plays as they have in the past, they do still mix them in there. Devin Singletary is probably best suited for zone running where he will have the ability to utilize his consistently good patience and vision as well as get him a little more space where he can work through the line with a little more ease.
This isn’t a deal-breaker for his fit in Detroit, but it is definitely something to consider. Personally, I think that he would find a nice role in the Detroit Lions offense as a change of pace back for Kerryon Johnson that can catch the ball out of the backfield. His balance and toughness are things that I think will help him see playing time sooner rather than later, and I think he could really excel if given the opportunity.
Justice Hill, Running Back, Oklahoma State
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