If there is one thing that we can be sure of, it’s that just about every year, there will be running backs taken in the middle rounds that will become very productive NFL players. Storm Johnson form Central Florida and Terrance West from Towson are two backs who could fit into that category.
Storm Johnson – Running Back – Central Florida
Johnson is a fourth-year junior and a transfer from the University of Miami. He enrolled at Miami in 2010 and played as a backup his freshman year. He then transferred to Central and sat out the 2011 season. He played in a rotation in 2012 and ran for over 500 yards and four TDs. He still played in a rotation in 2013 but became more of the bell cow with 1,139 yards rushing and 30 receptions. He also had 24 rushing TDs and three receiving TDs.
Johnson has good size at about 6000 – 215. He is a good athlete with very good balance and body control. While he is not a “burner”, he runs fast enough. I would estimate his speed at around 4.57 – 4.60. While he doesn’t have great top end speed, he has a burst.
Johnson runs form both a pro set and a spread. He is quick to the hole and has good lean. He is an alert runner who has very good vision and is a good decision maker. He shows good cutback skills and can make a quick cut in the hole to an open lane. He is an attacking style runner who has power and can get yards after contact. With his lower power and balance, he can break tackles and burst for extra yards. He is effective both inside and outside and does a good job following blocks. As a receiver, he is very consistent, has soft hands, and can adjust to the ball. After the catch, he gets up field quickly and can turn a short pass into a long gain. Johnson pass blocks well. He is alert and does a good job picking up blitzes. He has good technique and can anchor.
Johnson has a lot of talent. He just doesn’t have great top-end speed. He will become a steady NFL running back, and I look for him to be an eventual starter in the league. He should get drafted around the mid-third to fourth round.
Terrance West – Running Back – Towson
West is a highly productive third-year junior who is entering the draft as an underclassman. He has been Towson’s leading rusher for three straight years. This year, West finished with 2410 yards rushing and 40 TDs. In his three year career, he ran for 4750 yards and 83 TDs! There are not many backs who have put up those kinds of stats regardless of the level of competition. His breakout game was in the FCS playoffs this year against Eastern Illinois, where he ran for over 350 yards and 5 TDs in the snow.
West has excellent running back size at about 5110 – 225. While he has size and good overall athleticism, he is not what I would call a really fast guy. I would estimate his speed at being around 4.65 – 4.68. He does have quickness and cutting ability to go along with really good strength and balance.
West lines up in both a pro set and a spread formation. When in a pro set, he is often lined up eight to nine yards behind the ball. He has good quickness to the hole, and being that deep allows him to do a very good job reading his blocks.
West is basically a one-cut back. He waits for his block and can cut off of it. He is not overly elusive, but he can make a tackler miss with a quick cut. He is a powerful runner who runs low and explodes into tacklers. He keeps his legs moving on contact and can consistently get yards after contact. It’s not unusual to see him carry two tacklers an extra two or three yards. He is best as an inside runner as he lacks the speed to consistently get the corner turned. As a receiver, he has good hands but is used mostly as a check down receiver. He will need work with his route running. As a blocker, he is willing but needs technique work. He lacks good hand use and does not consistently get and keep good position.
Overall, West is talented but limited. Because he is a power guy, there is a place for him at the next level. I don’t see him as a starter, but I feel he will be a good complementary back used in a rotation. Unless he runs a lot faster than expected, I see him as a “C” level player in gets drafted in the later rounds of the draft.
Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe
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