Scouting: Mid-round RB prospects
The middle of the draft is a place that the Ravens could target a running back, much like Lorenzo Taliaferro a year ago. The former Chanticleer was selected with the Ravens fourth round compensatory pick. Baltimore owns six draft picks in the fourth and fifth rounds in the upcoming 2015 draft. With the release of Bernard Pierce, running back depth is a need on the roster with just two viable candidates to make the 53-man roster currently on board. Here is a look at the running back prospects to be had in the middle rounds. (Round projections from the folks at CBSsports.com)
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Check out my review of the Mid-round WR prospects as well.
Mike Davis – South Carolina
5’9”, 217 lbs. Third or fourth round. Davis is forgoing his senior season at SC and entering the draft. He claims his main reason for doing so is to earn a big payday to help support his mother. That shows good character. But another reason may be his often injured past. Playing through bruised ribs in 2013, and nagging injuries limiting his ability last season, another season of punishment could diminish his stock further would he have stayed. On the flip side, he likely would have been the best RB in the SEC entering 2015 with Todd Gurley, T.J. Yeldon and Cameron Artis-Payne moving on. From a strictly football standpoint, Davis fits the scheme Mark Trestman and the Ravens will run. Patient runner, and quick acceleration through the hole. Necessary traits in the zone blocking scheme. Davis is also relied heavily on catching passes out of the backfield which Trestman showed he love to do in Chicago with Matt Forte racking up over 100 catches. He could be great value in the middle rounds, if he can stay out of the trainer’s room.
Javorius Allen – USC
6’0”, 221 lbs. Third or fourth round. Allen will also forego his senior season at Southern Cal after earning First Team All-Pac 12 honors. The question is, is Allen a great back, or is he aided by the amazing O-Line at USC? Is he aided by the elite receivers that keep defenders from stacking the box against him? Allen is quick, and very agile for his size, but lacks vision and instincts. He zigs into defenders when he should have zagged into open field at times. He doesn’t use his size to his advantage often to run through would be tacklers, rather using jukes to elude them. However he is always falling forward when hit. 2014 was Allen’s first season carrying the lion’s share of the load for the Trojans, so he has low mileage, less abuse on his body. Oddly enough, NFL.com compares Allen’s traits to those of Bernard Pierce. If the Ravens select Allen, they better hope it’s the 2012 Pierce, and not the 2013-14 Pierce that rendered him expendable.
Cameron Artis-Payne – Auburn
5’10”, 212 lbs. Fourth round. “CAP” as he’s referred to, earned first team All-SEC honors after leading the conference with 1,608 rushing yards on 303 carries and 13 scores. He will be a 25 year old rookie in the NFL after not receiving any scholarship opportunities out of high school, and spending two years away from the game before enrolling in Junior College. When he transferred to Auburn in 2013, he was the backup to St. Louis Rams emerging star, Tre Mason. Artis-Payne will have to prove that he can play in a more conventional pro-style offense, rather than the up tempo, zone-read, window dressing offenses that Gus Malzahn runs to perfection. Meaning CAP will have to become more instinctive. He’s a north and south type without much agility or jump cut ability. Artis-Payne also isn’t a reliable pass catcher with small hands (8 ½”) he drops some easy ones. I would pass if I’m the Ravens.
Terrance Magee – LSU
5’8”, 213 lbs. Fourth or fifth round. Magee may be undersized, but he doesn’t play like it. He never was a feature back at LSU in their run heavy, running back by committee approach. He is tough and doesn’t shy away from getting his hands dirty in pass protection, taking on much bigger opponents head on. Coaches love his tenacity, his heart, but when it comes down to it, he just isn’t an every down NFL back. He can do some special things in the passing game, like a Darren Sproles type. He would be a third down back who can block then slip out to catch a pass. He will get nasty on special teams. Magee even played QB in high school, so maybe a designed HB pass could be added to the playbook. Where Magee gets drafted all depends on how high a team values a situational back.
Karlos Williams – Florida State
6’1”, 230 lbs. Fifth round. Forget about it, although not charged, was investigated for domestic violence in November of 2014. The Ravens would want no part of him.
Dominique Brown – Louisville
6’2”, 234 lbs. Fifth round. His size makes him big for a running back, which is whey scouts believe he is more of an H-Back at the next level. His skill set is better suited as a pass protector and pass catcher. In his senior season he lost playing time to two underclass running backs. He suffered a drop from 5.1 yards per carry in 2013, to 3.9 YPC in 2014. He can be a force one on one in the open field, but lacks the tenacity for a big man to push the pile, get the tough yards between the tackles. He would hesitate with the footwork instead of driving up in the gut. The Ravens have a similar product in Kyle Juszczyk, so I don’t foresee a guy with Brown’s skills on their radar.