RB DEVONTA FREEMAN, FLORIDA ST.*

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5’9” – 203 lbs. – 4.50e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2011: 120 – 579 – 8 (4.8), 15 – 111 – 0 (7.4) receiving
2012: 111 – 660 – 8 (6.0), 10 – 86 – 0 (8.6) receiving
2013: 173 – 1,016 – 14 (5.9), 22 – 278 – 1 (12.6) receiving

OVERVIEW:

Led the team in rushing as a freshman after stepping in for the injured Chris Thompson, then finished second on the team the following season after another injury to Thompson. Started all fourteen games as a junior, earning first-team all-conference honors from conference coaches.

POSITIVES:

•    Will be entering the draft having been a significant contributor over all three seasons.
•    Undersized in terms of height but fairly thick build/lower body help him compensate.
•    Durability hasn’t been a concern so far, has appeared in every game possible in school.
•    Runs with a low center of gravity, can squeeze through small holes due to squat build.
•    Cuts well, is able to read his blocks and make it through the hole, solid juking ability.
•    Has the balance to keep himself upright and withstand minor hits from defenders.
•    Makes up for his lack of gaudy receiving numbers with impressive blitz pickup skills.
•    In Florida State’s two-back sets, has been used as a lead blocker, adequate in that role.
•    Also looks pretty good at uncovering when the quarterback is forced to improvise.

NEGATIVES:

•    Never asked to function as a workhorse, looks too small to do that in the NFL as well.
•    Ran behind one of college football’s best offensive lines and with Heisman-winning QB.
•    More quick than fast and not really a true home-run threat; can be caught from behind.
•    Was never heavily-utilized as a receiving option, although he may have to be in the NFL.
•    A bit inconsistent in his ability to run through arm tackles, shoelace attempts can work.

SUMMARY:

A player who lacks many special traits outside of his cutting ability and blitz pickup but whose game is also more well-rounded than most backs, Freeman should come off the board early on the draft’s third day as teams look for a polished runner to add to their rotation. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to seeing the field as a young running back is learning the NFL’s blitz pickups, which could lead teams looking for quick contributors to favor Freeman over some of his competitors. Although he may never become a team’s feature back, and may need to make some strides as a receiver before earning a third-down role, he fits the league’s current trend of seeking thick runners with a low center of gravity. His closest pro comparison may be a player such as Jacquizz Rodgers, who has also carved out a role thanks to his block ability; Rodgers went in the fifth round of the 2011 draft.

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