Prospect: Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Grade: 7.05 (Grading Scale)
Franklin is a productive and durable running back with explosive straight line speed. In terms of height and weight Franklin needs to bulk up a little bit more. He has added weight since the end of the season and now is over the 200 pound barrier which is important for an NFL running back. Franklin displays very good speed to the edge and the ability to turn the corner and cut it up field. Fluid in the midsection, is able to make cuts without hesitation. He changes direction well, has shown he can cut it back vs. the grain and outrun the angle. Displays good balance and body control when making cuts, keeps his pads low with a solid center of gravity. Can accelerate out of his cuts and maintains speed well while making moves. Playing and physical strength needs to improve to be every down player.
Franklin has the ability to be an explosive big play running back in the NFL. He’s very dangerous on the edge, can turn it up field and run away from defenders. Gets through the hole quickly and doesn’t waste much time dancing in the backfield. Does a good job of letting his blocks set up, reading them and getting up field. Excellent one cut and go runner, will make a cut and explode through the hole. Gets to the line quickly and is able to stop, cut and go. Not overly powerful, but can break arm-tackles due to his constant leg drive. Displays very good lateral ability and good burst out of his initial cut. Runs with good pad level, makes himself a small target and doesn’t expose himself to big hits. Doesn’t need a big hole to make something happen. Was a much improved runner as a Senior, didn’t seem like a natural fit in the pistol offense. In order to be an every down back Franklin will have to continue to add bulk and body weight. Due to his lack of power, Franklin isn’t a fit for every type of offense. Ideal runner in zone blocking system.
Franklin really improved on this area during his Senior season catching 33 balls, which was more than the previous three seasons combined. Works the middle of the field well, made a number of catches over the middle of the field. At the Senior Bowl he showed natural hands, catching everything away from his body and tracking the ball while on the run. Runs solid routes, with the ability to beat linebackers with his quickness. Can make plays after the catch, will can be a third down/safety valve type receiver. Dangerous off of play-action. Very impressed with his ability in pass protection at Senior Bowl. Showed good power and leverage when attacking blitzers. Put his head in the chest of blitzing SAF and was able to slide with them. Showed very good playing strength and a powerful lower body in pass pro.
Excellent one cut ability. Can make the first defender miss and get into the open field. Able to accelerate quickly out of his cut and doesn’t lose much speed when cutting. Can make defenders miss with is quick feet, made some huge runs this year after initial contact (Nebraska). Franklin possesses quick feet and the ability to stop and get back up to speed quickly. Fluid midsection, doesn’t show much stiffness when making cuts. Won’t run over defenders and doesn’t have a real physical running style. Will break most of his tackles with his cutback ability.
Franklin is a very impressive person. He has outstanding character, has been involved in numerous charities off the field and wants to be an role model. Stated that he “wants to be the major of Los Angeles” and is absolutely serious about it. Works extremely hard off the field, was someone his teammates looked up to at UCLA. In interviews Franklin came off as very articulate, well spoken and bright. He’s a smart player who was able to breakdown his responsibilities in the UCLA offense. Durability isn’t an issue, no major injuries while in college. Has no off the field concerns and should be a model citizen inside the locker room.
Franklin really improved his stock by returning for his Senior season. He appeared to be in much pretty shape and improved in a number of areas. Due to his one cut and go ability Franklin is a good fit in a zone blocking system, where he can use his patience and vision. He can get to the edge and break the long run once turning the corner. His hands have started to develop and will be able to be a receiving asset in the passing game. Dispite smaller frame and limited power, Franklin was the best RB in pass protection during Senior Bowl drills.
Overall, Franklin is one of the top seven running backs in the 2013 NFL Draft. At worst Franklin can be a third down back in the NFL, but has the tools including vision, balance and speed to potentially become a lead back for the right NFL team.