OVER/UNDER: RUNNING BACK

“Over/Under” is a glance at a pair of players at each position; one who TDR believes in overrated, and one who we believe is underrated. 

OVER: Montee’ Ball, Wisconsin

Wisconsin RB Montee' Ball

Wisconsin RB Montee’ Ball

Ball is as decorated a runner as there is in this class, leaving Camp Randall as the NCAA all-time leader in rushing touchdowns.  And while he has a solid skill set that is void of any gaping weaknesses, there are two main reasons I believe Ball to be one of the more overrated backs in this class.

The first is the same that any Wisconsin running back will probably ever deal with, which is the fact that Ball ran behind one of the best offensive lines in the country.  The mauling Badgers in front of him were consistently opening huge running lanes for Ball, leaving me to wonder if he would be as successful behind a weaker set of blockers.

This leads me into the second concern I have, which is that when I put on the tape, I don’t see a back who will make things happen on his own.  Ball doesn’t jump out on film as a player who will make something out of nothing, and who can beat the defense with superior athletic ability.  He’s not built as thickly as his height/weight would suggest, and doesn’t seem to run behind his pads as often as you’d like from an every-down back.

Great vision and patience?  Absolutely.  Solid as a receiver and pass protector?  Definitely.  But I’m not sure I see a featured back when I look at Montee’ Ball, and I’m not willing to use a premium pick on a runner who doesn’t move that needle.

Arkansas RB Knile Davis

Arkansas RB Knile Davis

UNDER: Knile Davis, Arkansas

Davis represents the opposite of what I addressed above with regards to Ball.  With Davis, I see a back who has the combination of size and explosiveness that could allow him to be a huge steal in this draft.  He gets in and out of cuts quickly, shows great balance and vision, and isn’t afraid to deliver an effective blow at the end of a run.

Davis is a dangerous receiver out of the backfield, and is adequate enough as a pass protector to stay on the field on all three downs.  He’s definitely not without his own concerns; he’s had trouble with ball security, and runs too tight at times, not showing great fluidity in the hips.  Davis followed up an impressive sophomore season (1322 rushing yards, 13 TD, 6.5 YPC) with a disappointing junior campaign, but turned in an impressive performance at the Combine  (4.37 40, 31 reps of 225).

But especially for a prospect who is slotted in the mid-round range right now, I see Davis as the kind of player who could have an Alfred Morris-type impact if he gets drafted into the right situation and can stay healthy.

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