Everything is right in the world again. The Patriots played well….like the Patriots. Hopefully that will continue throughout the season and draftniks will be trying to figure out who the Patriots will be interested in at pick #32. Depending on how the Patriots handle the contracts of Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, one possibility will be drafting a running back, so this week I decided to give Ameer Abdullah a closer look.
Abdullah is listed at 5’9″ and 190 pounds, but he looks and plays much bigger on film. He is a decisive runner and shows no hesitation in the backfield. He has good vision, trusts what he sees, and explodes through the hole. Abdullah does not lose momentum when cutting. He has a compact frame, a nice combination of balance and power, and stays low. He is quicker than fast,does not try to bounce everything outside, and likes to run between the tackles. He also hits defenders rather than being hit. His low center of gravity makes it difficult for defenders to wrap him up and get big hits on him. Even when there is not a lot of running room, Abdullah falls forward to maximize his yardage. Very rarely does he down on first contact or by a single tackler. He was not used a ton in the passing game of the games I watched, but he did look comfortable catching the ball and his stats in prior years indicate that he can be an effective pass catching option. In the play I highlighted below, you can see several of Abdullah’s positive traits, including vision, decisiveness, balance, low center of gravity, and his ability to gain yards after first contact.
Abdullah has had a lot of carries in his career at Nebraska, which is always a little worrisome for running backs. He does not possess elite speed for the position and will never be a home-run threat in the NFL. Abdullah has also been fortunate to run through some very large holes, which have helped him rack up impressive numbers. Another aspect of his game that he must work on if he wants to be considered an every-down back in the NFL is his pass protection. Hopefully with coaching and a willingness to learn, he can improve this aspect of his game. In the play below you can see that his technique and effort are not great, which forced his QB to rush the throw.
There is a lot to like about Ameer Abdullah so his game should translate well to the NFL. While he may lack elite size and speed, his other traits for the position are top notch. He plays much bigger than his size and has never had any major injuries. Abdullah plays with a mean streak, always looking to run through defenders and fight for extra yards. You rarely see him get tackled for a loss. He must work on his pass protection if he wants to be an every down back in the NFL. Because Abdullah lacks that home run threat potential that players like Gurley and Gordon have, I would not give him a first-round grade but he could be a nice addition to the Patriots beyond that.