INDIANAPOLIS – As the Saturday workouts continue, this year's loaded crop of running backs is preparing to take the field. Here are my scouting reports for the four most intriguing backs who are working out today.
RB Jay Ajayi, Boise State RB #02
Has some slide in the hole. Can bounce to outside with quickness. Catch the ball in flat. Cut on the edge as a blocker. Aware to help on miss pass block. Physical runner with ball after catch. Fumble vs Ole Miss inside the five. Adjust to catch ball going away. Plays with balance. Will spin and keep going. Will finish runs. Will bounce the ball outside. Will try and bounce the ball too much on the goal line. Will make just cuts in the line. Quick feet. Catch blocker as pass pro. Will run out of trouble when blocking is poor. Not a finisher as a pass protector. Passive. Will catch the check downs. Home run shot vs Arizona on off tackle play. Can make a decision in the hole and cut. Stiff arm on touchdown run vs Arizona. Balance on the cuts. Great effort to get the corner and reach for TD vs Arizona. Doesn't get many opportunities to catch balls down the field. 7 fumbles in 2014. Torn ACL 2011.
RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin RB #16
One back runner that goes behind a "H". Has the vision to see holes. Can get out of tight spots. Not sure he really has home-run speed. Will usually take a slide step-then start to the ball. Minnesota put 10 in the box and he was still able to make positive runs. Will bounce off tacklers and keep his legs moving. Shows the ability to plant and change direction. Can run thru tacklers. Will keep his pads down and protect the ball. Has a feel for how to follow blocks. Has some start-stop quickness. Plays with balance. Plenty of snaps where he has to run behind counter blocking (puller). Will lower his shoulder and try to finish the run. Will be used as a chip blocker. Aware of who his man is. Not very stout to take on. Will throw shoulder in there more than square. Knocked a blitzer down vs LSU off edge. Stays after man on play action fake. Will cut block off the edge at times. Stepped up in Purdue game and picked up blitzer square. Aware to pick up slot blitz off the corner-came across the formation to do so. Fumbled coming off the goal line vs OSU. Fumbled going in for score vs South Florida. Had the ball ripped lose for a fumble vs Iowa. Had two fumbles vs Nebraska. Fumble vs Bowling Green. Fumble vs Purdue. Had 7 total fumbles on the season. Not a big pile mover. Takes a counter step and goes. Can make a sudden change. Showed balance to score on long run vs Auburn. Can be very hit and miss with pass blocking technique.
RB Duke Johnson, Miami RB #23
Plays as a one back runner. Doesn't have many opportunities where there is just a clear hole. Has the quickness and burst to cut back if hole not there. Can make men miss in the hole. Rare foot work with the ball in his hands. Start-Stop quickness is outstanding. Can make a cut and not lose speed. If nothing is there not afraid to run up the back of his blockers. Nice zone runner to make the cuts. Protects the ball in traffic. Can weave through the tacklers. Explodes off his plant foot. Can turn a negative play into a positive one. Just needs a little crack. Will sneak out of the backfield on the check down. Can turn the corner on the toss. Will bounce off tacklers. Balance. Wheel routes and screens. Catches the ball on the swing. Can adjust. Is a weapon in the open space. Didn't make low adjust in flat. Cut block on the edge. Will come across the pocket to help. Size limits what he can do on pass blocking.
RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama RB #35
Stays square in pass pro. Will hunt for space. Not sure made right pick up on blitz. Nice effort to try and score, extends the ball. Productive red zone player. Quick feet. Didn't lower shoulder to finish run. Can work through small cracks. Will lean on man for blitz pickup. Can make a cut to make a man miss. Balance to bounce the ball outside. Will bounce the ball outside. Tried to cut block Flowers of Arkansas gave up sack. Did his best versus Arkansas to find space. Not likely to break many tackles. Will play with choppy steps on the way to the hole. Has some shake moves. Nose for the goal line. Lined up wide and ran the slant for a catch vs A&M. Can get out of tight spots. Balance and spin moves in the open field. Will catch the swing pass. Has the vision to see the hole and get through it. Is more of a complete back than people are willing to give him credit for.