The Philadelphia Eagles went into the 2017 NFL Draft expected to draft a feature running back and left with only a 179 pound change of pace back. Maybe the strategy going in was to get Donne Pumphrey early on day three of the draft, or maybe they just missed on some earlier targets. Either way the Eagles backfield is still without a true primary back going into the 2017 season.
The player they did draft is one of the most intriguing rookies this year. He’s only 5’8, 179 pounds, but because of his toughness, quickness and elite vision he was able to break the all-time FBS rushing record.
In college he was a foundation back who ran a ton of zone and iso runs out of the I-formation. I love that he came from a pro style offense, but in the NFL he is going to run primarily out of the shotgun. Space is his friend and running out of bigger sets under center is going to be a much tougher tasks against NFL defenses.
WEAKNESSES- If this kid was 210 pounds or bigger he would easily have been my number one ranked running back, but he’s not and it will be hard for him to be a consistently good runner at his size in the NFL. I understand that he is a tough runner and it really shows on tape, but Darren Sproles never became a primary back and he’s 195 pounds in a 5’6 frame.
Outside of his size, the only real issue I have with Pumphrey is his route running ability. He’s no Christian McCaffrey, that’s for sure. Until about the final two games of 2016, he always looked unsure and slower when running routes, even on those quicker, shorter routes. With his quickness he should be torched linebackers over the middle, but he struggled to gain consistent separation.
He did lot of his damage on screens, wheel routes and quick passes out of the flat. I’d like him to develop more as a weapon out of the slot and he’ll have a great teacher in Sproles to help him with that.
STRENGTHS- Pumphrey’s vision and subtle cuts are the best from any running back I saw on tape this year and it’s a reason to believe that he can be a 1,000 yard rusher at the next level. He always finds the best running lane, even if it’s away from his lead blocker. This isn’t something that can be learned, players are just born with this rare ability to see the field and react to it quickly.
The cutting ability he possesses is very similar to LeSean McCoy’s. Get him in the open field and he is just an dangerous. He also has that breakaway speed that Shady has so if he makes his man miss in the open field he can finish out runs and rarely gets caught from behind.
NFL PROJECTION- He’s a great home run threat to add to this backfield and a dynamic player to utilize in the passing game. If you expect a lot of 20 carry games, you are out of your damn mind, but he’ll have a handful of 100 yard games and he won’t need a ton of carries to get there.