The 2020 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Big Board will be rolled out over the course of four weeks by position, featuring players to watch and a breakdown of what NFL scouts look for through the eyes of Collegiate Bowl Director of College Scouting, Dane Vandernat.
Today, we feature running backs and fullbacks:
THREE TO WATCH
Zack Moss, RB, Utah: The stout, compact runner bulked up an additional 10 pounds for 2018, showing improved burst and speed while breaking multiple long runs. Moss also proved to be a very capable pass catcher out of the backfield and appeared to be a strong candidate to enter the NFL Draft last year before getting injured. The Florida native looks to follow in the footsteps of his relatives Santana and Sinorice Moss as the next family member to join the NFL ranks.
Jordan Cronkrite, RB, USF: A home-run hitter for the Bulls, Cronkrite is capable of taking it the distance at a moment’s notice. His big-play running style was on full display in 2018, as he ran for 1,121 yards in 12 games, including a 302-yard rushing performance against UMass. Blessed with breakaway speed and elusiveness in the open field, the transfer from Florida is able to accelerate through the hole with great quickness, leading many to compare him to the man he replaced — Marlon Mack, who is now with the Indianapolis Colts.
James Robinson, RB, Illinois State: Over the past two seasons, Robinson has compiled 2,223 rushing yards and 25 total touchdowns for the Redbirds. He has more bounce to the ounce, demonstrating great balance and change of direction/cutback ability. The FCS All-American has shown a knack for coming through in the clutch by icing quite a few contests in the fourth quarter after wearing down entire defenses.
To all prospective running backs: NFL defenders are bigger, faster, stronger and hit harder than anyone you have encountered. That means merely rushing for 1,000 yards in college is not enough to guarantee success at the pro level. Elite running back prospects must be able to make a defender miss in space –either running through a defender’s grasp with power, using speed to outrun an opponent to daylight or putting an athletic move on a would-be tackler that leaves him wrapping up air. The cream of the crop incorporates all three into their game.
A vastly underrated aspect of playing running back in the modern NFL is the ability to pass protect. If he can’t master assignments in the pass game, he won’t see the field. NFL talent evaluators want to see prospects who understand pass protection concepts, can read a defense pre-snap to determine his responsibility, and are able to strike and maintain contact with a blitzing defender while using his feet. Catching the ball out of the backfield or as a route runner opens up the chance to compete as a “third-down back.” The great ones can do it all — run, catch, protect the QB and make plays in the open field.
Fullbacks are gritty, unselfish players who seldom receive the credit they deserve or have their number called. Most college teams no longer include fullbacks in their playbook, and NFL teams have been phasing them out as as the spread becomes more popular. But those teams that do utilize true lead blockers are looking for tough guys who have enough foot quickness to sift through bodies as they work their way to their assignment. Scouts are also looking for explosiveness to be “thick” on contact – which means that they can deliver a blow and hold up while their opponent attempts to power through them. Some teams value more versatility as pass receivers, and all NFL teams that carry a fullback on their roster will expect them to contribute consistently on special teams.
NFLPA COLLEGIATE BOWL BIG BOARD: RUNNING BACKS/FULLBACKS
|First Name||Last Name||School||Position||Height||Weight|
|Christian||Gibson||New Mexico State||RB||6-1||206|
|Jason||Huntley||New Mexico State||RB||5-9||188|
|Cameron||Mayberry||Colorado School of Mines||RB||5-11||215|
|Juwan||Washington||San Diego State||RB||5-7||190|