NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
As I said in my previous report, I am focusing my attention on the skill position players leading up to the Combine. More specifically, I have been watching as much tape on the Running Back class as I can get my hands on. Today’s prospect is a stark contrast to my previous report, Paul Perkins. Read on to see why and who I think will be a better fit for the Patriots come draft day.
Name: Jordan Howard (#8)
School: Indiana University (Jr.)
Height: 6’1″ (unofficial)
Weight: 230 Lbs. (unofficial)
Howard is a powerful runner with good size to be a 25 carry a game type of Running Back in the NFL. He runs angry and is rarely brought down on first contact. Howard plays with excellent pad level and leverage and delivers blows to his opponents rather than the other way around. Howard has a powerful lower body and keeps his legs moving, consistently fighting for extra yards after being wrapped up. He plays with good vision and has a nice burst to hit the hole quickly. He shows good patience, allowing holes to develop but uses good footwork and an ability to change his speed while moving forward to create positive yardage on almost every play, even when there is little to nothing there. Howard is a true “run between the Tackles” type and eats up yards quickly. He plays with excellent balance and falls forward to maximize his yardage on every play.
The biggest worry I have with Howard is his injury history. He plays with such violence that he is susceptible to injury. He missed 4 games this past season as well as the majority of 2 others. He has a little wiggle to his game, but he is not going to make too many defenders miss with his lateral movements. Howard has good speed, but does not have that 2nd gear to break off long runs on a consistent basis. Most of Howard’s big plays that I saw came when his O-line created massive holes for him to run through. He is a willing pass protector, but needs work on technique. He does not attack blocking like he does when he has the ball in his hands. Howard only has 24 career receptions in his college career and will have to prove that he can do it before being considered a pass catching threat in the NFL.
Other than the injury concerns, Howard seems like the perfect Patriots type of runner. Nothing he does is flashy, but he is productive and the “way he wins” translates well to the NFL. I really like his size and the way he runs behind his pads. Will he be a highlight reel machine in the NFL? No, but at the end of each game, I can easily see a box score of 20-25 carries for 100+ yards. I think he can come in year one and have immediate success. He does need to develop as a pass catcher and as a blocker to stay on the field for all three downs, but I don’t see it as a huge issue. Because Howard is not flashy and he has injury issues, I think he could slide a little bit despite his talent and could represent good value. For me, he is a top 100 player in this draft all day and if somehow the Patriots can get him in the 3rd round, I think that would be a really good pick.
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