Scouting Report: Ameer Abdullah, RB Nebraska

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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.

Positives:

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.

Negatives:
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.

Summary:

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.

8 Responses to “Scouting Report: Ameer Abdullah, RB Nebraska”

  1. steve earle says:

    Sure the kid has talent but does anyone see him sliding down to where the Pat’s could grab him? Plus is this position going to be our burning need to spend a 1st rd pick on?

    • MaineMan says:

      Nah.

      In spite of how little BB has invested in the RB corps recently – in money or draft picks – for the period 2010 thru 2013, they were Top-Ten in rushing yardage three times, and Top-THREE in rushing TDs all four seasons. It wasn’t pretty very often, but they got the job done.

      I’m guessing that Ridley gets offered a post-injury, one-year prove-it deal for the veteran minimum ($660k). Bolden and Develin, both RFA, probably get about the same. White will be making $610k for 2015. Then they have Gray and Gaffney lurking in the weeds.

      As much as we like Vereen, he’s likely to want a significant increase over his current $1M. But the Pats’ let Blount walk for $1.9M/year, and let Woodhead walk for $1.75M/year (plus more playing time with the Chargers than the Pats could realistically promise). So the ceiling is pretty low on what Vereen is likely to get offered.

      The other side of it is that Vereen’s receiving production over the past three seasons hasn’t really been anything special compared to about a dozen other RBs who are also more productive running the ball. So it’s not as if he has a huge amount of leverage.

      Unless a couple guys currently on the roster blow the doors off the rest of the season, I’d guess that the Pats might add an RB in the mid-late rounds, but probably will sign a couple-three UDFAs again, regardless. And, maybe an older free agent on a vet minimum contract.

  2. MaineMan says:

    From what I’ve read, Abdullah has also had some consistent ball security issues. I’m not sure that BB will want to go there again.

  3. Dan Sullivan says:

    BB What do the following players have to do to see some playing time?
    1 Brandon Boldin 2 Zach Moore 3 Nate Ebner 4 Tavon Wilson
    5 Deontae Skinner 6 Malcolm Butler.
    Strengthen your depth give these guys some time.

    Mid Season Patriots Mock Draft
    1 Ty Montgomery WR Stanford
    2 Jeff Heuerman TE Ohio State
    3 Tyeler Davison DT Fresno State
    4 Jarvis Harrison G Texas A&M
    4 Via Logan Mankins Trade Dominque Brown RB Louisville
    5 C.J. Johnson OLB Ole Miss.
    6 Shane Carden QB East Carolina

    Good Luck Pats against Bills watchout for those very good Bills RB’s.

    • MaineMan says:

      Bolden – I have no clue – aside from the fact that he hasn’t been productive in the few snaps he’s received. OTOH, he’s still been one of the top 3 or 4 special-teamers.

      Moore – As a rookie, probable still “under development”, but also perhaps the odd man out on the DL. During Camp, from what I saw in person and from other reports, Moore was playing a lot of 30-front DE and as an interior sub-rusher in 40-fronts. That role has mostly gone to Easley so far this season, with some rotations by Chandler and Vellano. With Vellano now gone to the PS and Easley appearing unlikely to play this week (officially listed as QUESTIONABLE, but didn’t practice at all THU or FRI – shoulder and knee injuries), we may see quite a bit more of Moore against the Bills.

      Ebner – Before missing the past two weeks with a broken finger, Ebner had been the primary dime DB, getting maybe 5-10 snaps/game. He’s already been declared OUT for WK-6, btw.

      Wilson – He’s actually gotten quite a few snaps overall. When the Pats have subbed-in their “Big Nickel” package, he’s often been the guy who replaces Chung. He and Harmon have been splitting that role, but it’s been uneven from game-to-game with Harmon getting the bulk of the snaps one game and Wilson dominating the snaps the next game. Probably opponent-specific. With McCourty listed for WK-6 as PROBABLE, but still perhaps nursing some tender ribs, Harmon would seem to be his most likely “relief man” in deep coverage this week, and Wilson may then see more snaps replacing Chung as well as in dime packages (with Ebner OUT). OTOH, I’ve noticed that Chung’s coverage has been steadily improving and he wasn’t subbed out quite as frequently the past two games (BB also noted this in a recent presser), so it’s hard to say how much field time Wilson may see going forward. He’s been good when he’s been in there, though.

      • Dan Sullivan says:

        Very good analysis but I just think with so many injuries in Pro Football to
        have not much of a drop off when second stringers come in is a good think to
        have.

        Go Pats!
        Dano S

    • steve earle says:

      Sure like to see Monty out wide for Tom to throw to but I fear he will be long gone when our pick comes up. Unless Gronk gets injured again can’t see TE as an early pick. And just as a thought, if Bill want’s to resign Revis cap money will be tight, so far more likely would be a O-line G/T G/C kind of selection. I like the rest of your picks, nice work.

      • MaineMan says:

        The thing about the Revis deal is that it only costs the Pats the whole $25M if the exercise the existing option to keep him for the 2nd year. If they decline to do so, he walks, but they’re only stuck with $5M in dead money – a net savings of $20M against the cap. Realistically, I think they’ll try to work out a three year extension that guarantees him the whole $25M as a bonus (amortized), but that reduces his 2015 cap hit to around $12M.

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