RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona St.

6’1″ – 228 lbs. – 4.46

Was a lesser-used back in his freshman season, then averaged just over 160 touches per year over the three subsequent seasons, culminating in a high of 177 this past year. Despite not having carried a heavy load in college (just two games of twenty touches the past season), is a hulking back with the size and bulk teams look for in a workhorse. Played in an offense which had him taking almost all of his carries out of shotgun-spread looks. Consequently, was able to do a lot of work against six or seven-man defensive fronts. The type of between-the-tackles power back his size would indicate. No-nonsense player who has some patience to wait for holes to open, but wastes little time getting through them when they appear. Makes pretty good decisions when choosing lanes, and has the feet to jump-cut and find openings to run through. Runs with a lot of power; a tall back, but can get behind his pads, run through arm tackles, and take defenders for a ride, churning out yards after contact with strong leg drive and a physical on-field demeanor. Punishes defensive backs and linebackers, wearing them down. Exhibits good balance and the ability to skinny through smaller holes in the line. Didn’t break many big runs at the college level, but actually looks pretty fast and explosive in a straight line; however, seemed to have some trouble beating defenders to the edge and picking up yardage on outside rushing attempts.  Also has some value on passing downs, and was often retained on the field on third downs. Blocking leaves a little bit to be desired; wasn’t really consistent with his technique during the games reviewed and could do a better job of staying on his feet and anchoring against power. Consequently, while he has the size to potentially develop into an effective blocker, has some work to do before teams may feel comfortable using him in that capacity. Has more value as a receiver; caught eighty-two balls there over the course of his collegiate career, primarily on patterns into the flats. A pretty straightforward evaluation as a huge battering ram who plays within his skillset and has some receiving value but who isn’t really a threat to bounce runs to the outside or break off big gains. Has the potential to start some games and in a worst-case scenario could probably be an effective short-yardage back.

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