Leading up to the NFL Draft many teams will continue their evaluation process on prospects while altering their draft boards in preparation for Draft day. CPGM will provide you a breakdown of two prospects matched against each other with similar draft projections to get you prepped for this year’s draft. Voting option below for your input on who you think the better prospect is in this NFL Draft Matchup.
Check us out on all of our platforms.
The top 2-4 backs in the class are somewhat of a constant across many prognosticators’ running back rankings. It’s Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice, Sony Michel, Nick Chubb or Ronald Jones leading the way but this 2018 class is deeper than last year’s terrific class. You have guys like Rashaad Penny and Royce Freeman that can enter the league and be difference makers for the team that drafts them. Both have similarities as grinders that gain tough yardage with the ability to handle big work loads. In addition to their hard nose mentality both Penny and Freeman have similar running styles running with patience before exploding through the line of scrimmage. The main difference in their collegiate careers is the fact that Freeman has been consistently putting up huge production year after year in Oregon, while Penny is a one year wonder that exploded on the scene with over 2,000 yards in his senior campaign.
I have love for Royce Freeman as he was mentioned with all of the great running backs that came out in the 2017 draft. Freeman decided to stay in school after an injury riddled season and lost some of his luster as he dealt with a coaching change that kept him in-between the tackles. Freeman is best in a zone running system that allows him to patiently attack the line of scrimmage before using his great vision and hitting any hole from inside to outside. There are some question marks with his high usage at the collegiate level compiling 947 career carries but I think he will be just fine at the next level due to his no nonsense running style getting every yard that’s blocked up for him. Freeman also offers 3-down chops with solid hands out of the backfield. While Freeman is consistent and a very safe player to draft, give me the guy with the higher ceiling in Rashaad Penny. The former San Diego State running back didn’t burst on the scene immediately as he sat behind Donnel Pumphrey, but when he got his opportunity he showed that he belonged by running for 2,248 yards and 23 touchdowns. While Freeman gets what is given to him, Penny has the ability to make guys miss with his lateral quickness, runs through arm tackles with balance and can get to another gear and score from anywhere on the field. Some question if he can play on 3rd downs due to his poor pass blocking but with more practice and coaching to improve his blocking technique, he has the pass catching ability to be a complete football player. Penny gets skinny through the hole, has little back suddenness while packing a strong 220 pound build. I dubbed him as having big back attitude with little back feet. I’ll take Penny in this draft matchup.
When you talk about describing or defining a prospect and their attributes/abilities/traits the word that applies to Royce Freeman is balanced. Everything within the position of running back that you look for he can do it and do it well with no issues or concerns. Going into his tape I wasn’t sure what I was going to see but knew that he was one of the top backs prior to the 2016 college football season. As I began to watch Freeman the one thing that became evident is that he is a grinder who falls forward and isn’t easy to bring down. There is no rush with him heading to the LOS leaning on the backs of his linemen waiting patiently unless there is a hole to be had with a burst of speed to get through it. He can pass protect and catch out the backfield like you’d want in a 3rd down back. Often times I’d watch him create a hole if none was available turning his speed into power in an instant. Bodies everywhere, all around Freeman was like a man through the Everglades wading his way through the muck with precision and decisiveness. Injury is a concern and Freeman is a big target and I do realize he played at Oregon in that zone run, one cut system much like Jonathan Stewart did back in the day. Some believe this system suits him best and I can’t disagree, but the fact that he can do it all makes me think he can play in any system and flourish. The vaunted back out of SDSU is something to behold when you speak of his ability to make folks miss or break tackles as well as his open field prowess. To be frank it was quite ridiculous and eye opening at times, especially when it happened in the backfield. Us normal folk know you’re not suppose to be able to move in such a manner at that size but Penny is special in that way. I had and still have three concerns with Penny. Watching his tape the two obvious question marks are level of competition and pass protection. The other is the manner in which he achieves such long runs and that those types of runs won’t be there in the pros at the frequency in which they came. Barry Sanders type runs, gain a little, lose a little, lose a little, bust for a huge one. Now of course he created some of those absurd runs with his talents but plenty of those breakaway runs conjured memories of Melvin Gordon in college and most NFL teams do NOT create those gaping rushing lanes and certainly not at that frequency. Give me the all-around back Royce Freeman in this draft matchup.
NFL Comparison: Royce Freeman – Jordan Howard; Rashaad Penny – Jonathan Stewart