NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
I have been putting a lot of film work into the 2017 Runningback class, but after Sunday nights performance by the Patriots, I seriously considered dumping it all into the trash can and turning my attention to defensive players only. I couldn’t that until I at least wrote about Kareem Hunt. Hunt has been on my radar since 2014 when he had his breakout season for the Rockets. Hunt plays in the MAC, so he does not get a lot of national attention, but he has NFL traits. Lets take a closer look at what those traits are.
Name: Kareem Hunt
School: Toledo (SR.)
Weight: 225 Lbs.
Hunt has good size for the position and is physically ready for the NFL. He has good lower body power, making him tough to bring down with arm tackles. He shows good leg drive and power to fight for extra yards. He plays with a low center of gravity, giving him good balance and change of direction. Hunt shows great patience as a runner as well. He has a great ability to wait for something to open up and then shoot through it quickly. Hunt also have good vision and awareness. He rarely makes a bad decision when picking his running lanes and has the ability to sneak through even the smallest of holes in the defense. He does not have elite speed, but he the ability to break away from defenders for big gains. Hunt is a very reliable player. He only has one fumble in nearly 700 career carries, something Bill Belichick will surely love. He is not a natural receiver, but he has improved quite a bit as a Senior in that department.
The big question for Hunt coming into the NFL will be if he can handle the jump in competition. To the credit of the Toledo football program, they did schedule several non-conference games against power five competition, and Hunt played well in those games. Another big concern with Hunt is durability. Hunt missed multiple games in 2014 and 2015 because of injuries. He has also been the main focal point of Toledo’s offense for the past three years and has had a huge workload during that time. Something else that will need to be looked at is the fact that he missed a game for an unspecified reason that was not injury related, so off field concerns could potentially be an issue, but is not a huge concern for me personally.
From the first time I watched Hunt play, I have had him pegged as a potential Patriot. While he may not be as physically gifted as some of the bigger names at Runningback that will be in this draft, Hunt may have one of the better all around games. Hunt fits the Patriots system very well. He is a very smart runner with great vision and balance. He would compliment the passing game really well and I think would be very successful. He may not be the type of back you build your offense around, but he is reliable and can put up numbers that make defenses have to account for him at all times. Hunt is a guy who can come in and have an impact right away. What I like about Hunt is that week in and week out, teams have focused on shutting him down, and each week, he continues to produce. I also like that in his Senior year, he has become much more involved as a pass catcher. I think he would be a great fit and I don’t think it will take a premium draft pick to get him. I think somewhere late day 2 or early day 3 is where I would target him.