Pre-Scouting Senior Bowl Running Backs

By Lance Zierlein
January 18, 2013

Lance Zierlein with scouting reports on five of the RBs invited to the 2013 Senior Bowl.

Mike Gillislee Florida

Height: 5'11" Weight: 210
Rush Yds: 1,152 Avg: 4.7 TDs: 10
His physical style helped in the red zone: He led all Bowl backs with a success rate of 46.9% on carries inside opponents' 20 yard line.

Pros

  • Physical runner looking to get downhill
  • Put together big games against LSU and FSU
  • Excels in pass protection

Cons

  • Hard to find upper-echelon traits when he runs
  • Lacks top-end speed

Overall

Gillislee played the role of lunch-pail back who went to work and did what needed to be done in the downhill rushing attack of Florida. Gillislee lacks top-end speed, but does show an ability to threaten the edge on the perimeter. Very tough and willing in pass protection. Not much wiggle to his game, but always looking to get positive yards. He won’t have many negative carries. Doesn’t look like he has traits to be a prolific back, but could be a little quicker version of Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Should be a safe 2nd back to start with.

Jonathan Franklin UCLA

Height: 5'10" Weight: 198
Rush Yds: 1,734 Avg: 6.1 TDs: 13
Franklin broke a tackle on average once every 12.2 carries which is best amongst Senior Bowl backs.

Pros

  • Good feet and lateral movement
  • Runs with a sense of urgency
  • Has plenty of speed and can hit the big play

Cons

  • Below average as a pass protector
  • Lack of bulk will create questions about durability on the next level

Overall

When I watch Franklin run, I see a highly competitive back who believes he will succeed on almost every single touch. Franklin shows very good burst and long speed and has the fluid hips to change directions without slowing down much. Below average pass protector. Franklin fights for extra yards after contact, but there is going to be a concern this his style combined with size could lead to durability questions. He has a ball security issue. I believe he has tools to be a good back in the NFL.

Stepfan Taylor Stanford

Height: 5'11" Weight: 215
Rush Yds: 1,530 Avg: 4.8 TDs: 13
Taylor finished games with authority rushing with quality rushes on 55.6% of his fourth quarter carries.

Pros

  • Finishes runs with authority
  • Has NFL body
  • Has played in pro style running game

Cons

  • Wildly inconsistent with his pass protection
  • Does not have enough speed to consistently turn the corner

Overall

Very physical back who fits perfectly into Stanford running game. Lowers pads and finishes runs consistently. Burst is an issue and he needs room to get going. He won’t make tacklers miss, but he’s a load late in games when defenses wear down. Stiff runner who appears to lack patience to lack some patience at times. Plays even bigger than his listed size. Pass protection woes need to be corrected or his stock will be limited.

Andre Ellington Clemson

Height: 5'9" Weight: 192
Rush Yds: 1,081 Avg: 5.1 TDs: 8
He was outstanding in the passing game with five explosive receptions (20+ yds), one sack allowed and zero drops.

Pros

  • Aggressive in pass protection and possesses terrific hands
  • Will pick up more yardage after contact than you would expect
  • Played in pro-style running game as well as spread

Cons

  • Doesn't break many tackles
  • Slender frame limits draft value

Overall

Ellington shows very quick, choppy feet and can burst when he sees the crease develop. Played as off-set back as well as in I-formation. He runs with good forward lean and finishes runs better than most backs his size, but won’t break too many tackles. Showed a nice understanding of how to set up the inside zone. Good pass catcher out of the backfield and a willing pass protector. Similar traits to C.J. Spiller, but less explosive.

Kenjon Barner Oregon

Height: 5'11" Weight: 192
Rush Yds: 1,082 Avg: 5.1 TDs: 8
Barner averaged 6.8 yards per play which is best by any Senior Bowl back, but was stuffed (no gain or minus yardage) on 9.7% of his carries.

Pros

  • Very rhythmic runner
  • Shows outstanding ability to change direction and burst
  • Great balance

Cons

  • Listed at 5'11", but is much smaller and has slender lower body
  • Very little power behind his pads

Overall

Barner doesn't pack much of a punch, but he’s got big play ability. Willing to run between tackles, but at best when he’s attacking the edges. Good fit for zone team looking for change of pace or for team implementing zone-read. Carried ball only as an offset back. Patient running style with ability to burst. Good pass catcher down the field. Able to accelerate to top speed quickly.

 

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