Ten 2019 running back prospects Texans fans should be familiar with pre-combine

Embed from Getty Images

Depending on who you talk to the Houston Texans might need a fresh face at running back.

Lead back Lamar Miller was named to the pro-bowl in 2018, but he rushed for less than 1,000 yards on the year, he is also a free-agent next season. Back up Alfred Blue did a solid job, but 3.3 yards per carry won’t cut it. Not to mention he is currently a free-agent. Former Texas Longhorns star D’Onta Foreman is coming off a torn Achilles, which is an injury that gives fans anything but confidence.

So what should the Texans do? There are certainly options in free agency. Former pro-bowlers Le’Veon Bell, Kareem Hunt, and Mark Ingram will get the brunt of the attention. But over-paying for a running back is always a looming threat. Therefore, the draft sounds like an enticing option. The 2019 draft is deep with running back talent (albeit without any sure-thing prospect), and the financial ease that a rookie contract gives is always nice. Therefore, below are ten options that I believe general manager Brian Gaine should consider.

Joshua Jacobs – Alabama

Embed from Getty Images

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 215 lbs

Strengths:

  • short area quickness to reel around the edge
  • flexible hips
  • very powerful, the first move is to drop shoulders and truck defenders to oblivion
  • explosive burst; can stop and go on a dime
  • has a feel for various blocking schemes, but best in a zone scheme
  • very patient; waits for his blocks to develop
  • can go from east-west running to north-south immediately
  • excellent balance stems from fantastic footwork
  • willing blocker out of the backfield; can diagnose blitzes and deliver clean blocks
  • takes violent cuts
  • underrated short-area juke move due to quick and nimble feet
  • huge frame
  • powerful lead blocker
  • “give up” isn’t in his vocabulary
  • has been utilized well in the receiving game, due to soft hands and good tracking abilities

Weaknesses:

  • long speed
  • low tackles often trip him up
  • some concentration drops on tape
  • injury concerns during his sophomore year
  • lacks production in college

Round projection: 1st-2nd round

David Montgomery – Iowa State

Embed from Getty Images

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 215 lbs

Strengths:

  • low center of gravity gives him excellent balance
  • initiates contact with tacklers; always seems to be in attack mode
  • a true bell-cow back; get’s better when the game goes on
  • polished pass protecting back
  • NFL ready build
  • can change direction quickly with hard cuts
  • patient runner behind the line of scrimmage
  • churns legs through tackles
  • can run east-west with good hip flexibility, but more of a downhill runner
  • soft hands show while catching
  • is versatile as a 3rd down back; has polished short routes to beat blitzes
  • sheds tackles with a mean, low pad-level truck
  • powerful stiff arm move

Weaknesses:

  • average burst and long speed
  • often bounces to the edge when first read is gone
  • takes short strides
  • too quick to panic
  • has some concentration drops on tape

Draft projection: 2nd-3rd round

Damien Harris – Alabama

Embed from Getty Images

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 215 lbs

Strengths:

  • knows how to find a gap and use it
  • anticipates where a block will be if something goes wrong
  • willing to attack the A-gaps
  • excellent balance stems from well-developed footwork
  • has a spicy initial foot-plant to change direction
  • powerful runner that strives off making contact
  • always seems to fall forward in short yardage situations
  • lets his block develop; then executes them with great vision
  • good ball control; keeps two hands on when making contact
  • smooth runner

Weaknesses:

  • limited burst
  • lateral quickness is subpar
  • doesn’t set himself well in pass protection
  • won’t be a receiving threat outside of the occasional screen or quick out
  • speed is average

Round projection: 2nd-3rd round

Devin Singletary – Florida Atlantic

Embed from Getty Images

Height: 5’9″

Weight: 200 lbs

Strengths:

  • jump-cut is nothing short of explosive
  • keeps his feet churning through contact
  • great body control and balance
  • very elusive in tight areas
  • change of direction is smooth
  • has outstanding vision; tends to make a play out of nothing either off the edge or up the A-gap
  • always aware of his surroundings
  • seems to have a plan with the ball; every time he runs he puts together a slew of moves
  • has shown an ability to be a good receiver out of the backfield, but rarely was told to do so in college
  • runs with a low center of gravity
  • doesn’t shy away from contact
  • tends to fall forward
  • willing pass protector

Weaknesses:

  • poor blocking form
  • lacks game-breaking speed and quickness
  • footwork could use improvement

Round projection: 2nd-3rd round

Darrell Henderson – Memphis

Embed from Getty Images

Height: 5’9″

Weight: 200 lbs

Strengths:

  • excellent vision outside of the tackles and in the open field
  • knows how to follow his blocks through the scrum
  • hasn’t seen a lot of wear and tear
  • balance lets him pinball through tackles
  • carries a low pad-level through contact
  • superb run after the catch skills on screens and quick out plays
  • slippery runner; has the lateral quickness to avoid any tackle
  • hard to tackle in close quarters; he is able to get thin and use his quick feet to avoid tackles
  • patient between the tackles
  • explosive burst and speed; has that ‘extra gear’ teams look for
  • isn’t a bruiser but he isn’t timid to put his head down and hit a defender

Weaknesses:

  • will not push a pile with power
  • lack of route running tape
  • leg drive is subpar
  • small stature
  • can’t be relied upon in pass protection
  • less of a bell-cow and more of a lead back in a committee
  • jumps around too much when running through the A-gap

Round projection: 3rd-4th round

Justice Hill – Oklahoma State

Embed from Getty Images

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 190 lbs

Strengths:

  • springy feet make for explosive lateral quickness
  • excellent spacial awareness
  • good vision when attacking lanes
  • exceptional route running skills
  • fluid hips
  • times his cuts well
  • runs on a balanced base with good body control
  • quick change of direction skills
  • uses his finesse to get himself out of tricky situations
  • can stop and start on a dime
  • has the ‘extra gear’ speed
  • good open field vision
  • textbook pass protector; makes good blocks despite his size

Weaknesses:

  • will not push a pile with leg drive
  • light frame
  • sometimes over-complicates plays that go wrong
  • inconsistent hands
  • needs to be more patient while letting blocks develop

Round projection: 3rd-4th round

James Williams – Washington State

Embed from Getty Images

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 195 lbs

Strengths:

  • outstanding receiving production; 202 catches in the last three seasons
  • vision after the catch is outstanding
  • ball tracking and body countering abilities of a wide receiver
  • should test well in the vertical drill at the combine
  • can help beat blitzes with a great understanding of a ‘block and release’
  • vision is best when operating under tight spaces
  • solid burst
  • absorbs hits well with good footwork and a quick-to-drop pad-level
  • good body control shows with elusiveness to hit most evading moves
  • good long speed
  • protects the ball with both hands
  • able to diagnose a blitz in pass protection
  • fearless in goal line situations
  • doesn’t mind blocking
  • is basically James White

Weaknesses:

  • won’t run anybody over with average lower body size
  • hesitant to run inside; often bounces outside
  • needs to hold his ground better in pass protection
  • maxed out frame; probably won’t be a bell-cow back
  • not a particularly ‘explosive’ athlete

Round projection: 4th-5th round

Rodney Anderson – Oklahoma

Embed from Getty Images

Height: 6’1″

Weight: 220 lbs

Strengths:

  • patient behind the line of scrimmage
  • vision shines when blocks develop
  • loose hips
  • very nimble; it shows when he changes direction laterally
  • good balance stems from loose hips and refined footwork
  • explosive jump-cut and lateral quickness
  • a natural receiver with soft hands
  • has played in multiple different concepts in college
  • NFL build and size
  • has a nice blend of power and finesse
  • keeps his feet churning through contact
  • good open field vision
  • explosive athlete with elite speed and quickness for his size

Weaknesses:

  • torn ACL in 2018
  • fractured vertebrae in 2016
  • broken leg in 2015
  • can be too jumpy behind the line of scrimmage
  • lack of willingness as a pass protector
  • carries a high pad-level due to a long torso

Round projection: 4th-5th round

Alexander Mattison – Boise State

Embed from Getty Images

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 215 lbs

Strengths:

  • former high school hurdler
  • developed frame
  • keeps legs moving through contact
  • good balance due to excellent core strength and body control
  • able to change direction on a dime
  • good vision, he tends to make good decisions behind the line of scrimmage
  • quick acceleration when running downhill
  • best when following lead blocks
  • lowers pad-level on contact
  • has a sense of where blocks will be and flow with them
  • loose hips
  • capable receiver
  • willing blocker in pass protection
  • embraces contact

Weaknesses:

  • average speed
  • needs to use his hands more in pass protection
  • lateral quickness and elusiveness are average
  • footwork can be improved upon

Round projection: 4th-5th round

Devine Ozigbo – Nebraska

Embed from Getty Images

Height: 6′

Weight: 230 lbs

Strengths:

  • good vision as he waits for blocks to develop
  • anticipates where blockers will be downfield
  • smooth feet
  • stop-and-go ability is unique for his size
  • uses his feet well to stay upright
  • carries his body well and knows when to lower pads
  • great frame for pass protection and uses it well
  • solid lateral quickness due to loose hips and active feet
  • the blend of power and elusiveness is above average

Weaknesses:

  • speed
  • weight concerns
  • inconsistent hands
  • doesn’t take explosive cuts
  • average burst

Round projection: 4th-6th round

-Avery Duncan

follow on twitter! @averyduncanNFL

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s