By Ron Sears (@DynastyRon)
I’m not ashamed to admit it. Sometimes I put dynasty fantasy football over my career. What self-respecting Dynasty owner doesn’t? After all, you can’t put a price tag on a Championship, and we all have to make sacrifices. NFL Combine week for me is a great example. I made the decision to “work from home” during the first Friday in March. I can’t help the fact that it happened to be the same day the rookie running backs did their workouts at the NFL Combine. Did I cancel a conference call that day when I realized it would be a conflict with the 40-yard dash? You bet I did. This is all part of my process to find myself a guy no one is talking about. This is how I find my sleeper.
It’s now a week later and I’ve had time to digest everything I saw and read about from the NFL Combine Week. Like most of you, one prospect got me really excited… butterflies even. Yes, I have a post-combine man crush. No, his name is not Saquon Barkley. “Who is it?” you’re likely wondering. Well, let me tell you a little bit about him.
Physically, he’s the unwed lovechild of LeSean McCoy, of Buffalo, and Devonta Freeman, of Atlanta. He stands 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighed in at 205 pounds. Some might think “that sounds a bit undersized”, but that actually gives him a 30.3 BMI, which for me is exactly what I’m looking for in my running backs.
I like my running backs on the thicker side, so I want them to be 30+ on the BMI putting them in the 50th+ percentile range when comparing to other RBs. I’m all about that lower body. If I could add squats and deadlifts to the combine, I would in a heartbeat. In any case, let me tell you about my guy:
- He ran the fastest 3-cone drill (6.79s) this year, which was the fourth fastest time going back to 1987 within his size profile.
- He had the fastest 20-yard shuttle (4.07s) which was the ninth fastest since 1987 within his size profile.
- He was top five in Broad Jump (122in) and 60-yard shuttle (11.63s).
- He did 19 reps on the bench (eighth).
- He jumped 34 inches on the vert (12th).
- He ran a 4.55 40 (12th).
Put this all together, and you’ve got a top five SPARQ score for running backs at the combine this year. You’re confused, aren’t you? This doesn’t sound like any of the guys you’re familiar with. Not fast enough or big enough to be Saquon Barkley. Too light to be Nick Chubb or Derrius Guice. Could be Sony Michel, but he only did three drills, didn’t he? Kalen Ballage maybe? No, Ballage is a bigger back. I’ll give you a hint. It’s a guy you’ve never heard of, from a college you’ve never seen on ESPN.
Chase Edmonds. RB. Fordham University.
Yep, I know what you’re thinking; “small school guy, no thanks. Hard pass.” Hang with me, hear me out. After falling for Edmonds, I went looking for and found some film to see how he looks in pads; after all, the combine is just a glorified track meet. Last season was cut short due to injury, and he only played in seven games, but I was able to get my hands on some tape and I liked what I saw. I wasn’t blown away. This guy isn’t the second coming of Ladanian Tomlinson or anything, but he is impressive.
Edmonds has good vision, but could be more decisive. He routinely makes the first man miss, and his stiff arm packs a punch. Edmonds has great burst and lateral quickness, and as a result maybe looks to bounce outside a bit too frequently. While he’s a smaller back, he keeps his pad level low, runs through arm tackles, and can finish a run. He’s capable in pass protection, but could definitely improve blocking. However, most importantly, he has good hands as he has a 30+ catch season under his belt. The versatile Edmonds cane ven return kicks- there’s not much he can’t do.
Now let’s see if he passes the data test. I compiled some data of current backs between 5’8” and 5’11” and between 201 and 209 pounds. And let me tell you, he’s in a class all by himself.
He’s more athletic than comparable backs like Gio Bernard, Duke Johnson, and Aaron Jones. He is thicker and has more explosiveness than backs like LeSean McCoy and Christian McCaffrey, and he’s shown better agility than Jerick McKinnon. There’s certainly a lot to like here. But many questions linger.
Sure he ran all over lower level competition in college, but how does that translate at the next level? Can he beat NFL caliber defenders with his elite athleticism alone? Can he be more than just a special teams role player? Is he destined to be a depth or committee back? Will he be drafted by the right team, and given the right opportunity? Will he even be drafted and make a 53-man roster?
All of these are valid questions and concerns. Most scouts project him going in rounds 6 or 7, if at all. Most experts have him pegged as a special teams contributor, or bottom-end depth chart running back.
Listen, I’m not telling you that Edmonds is going to be the next Devonta Freeman or a better version of Shady McCoy. I’m just laying out the data that gets me excited about him. He has the tools to be a difference maker in the NFL.
Some good news already, as early reports are indicating New England spent the most time with him during NFL combine week. Belichick has a history of making small school guys work doesn’t he? Sounds like a match made in heaven. I’m not telling you to go out and draft Edmonds ahead of guys like Derrius Guice or Nick Chubb. He probably doesn’t even belong in the same conversation as Royce Freeman or Sony Michel, or even Ronald Jones and Justin Jackson. But he might. That’s the kicker. People are discounting him because he went to Fordham. I don’t blame them. It’s Fordham. They played the likes of Holy Cross, Central Connecticut State, and Bucknell. I could average 4 yards per carry in the Patriot League.
But the fact remains, he might be one of the top 10, or even top five backs in this year’s class. And for that reason, I’m simply asking that you add him to your watch-list, highlight him on your excel sheet, put a star next to his name on your draft profiles printouts. Please don’t tell anyone about him, let him be our little secret, and you can scoop him up at the back of your rookie draft when people are putting it on cruise control in the third and fourth rounds.
If I’m wrong, well it didn’t cost you much. But what if I’m right?
2018 Combine data- www.nfl.com/combine
RB Raw data- http://nflcombineresults.com