Tyler Gaffney – Running Back
Gaffney originally enrolled at Stanford in 2009 and played as a backup and rotational player for three years. Being a draft choice of the Pittsburgh Pirates in MLB, he left after the 2009 season to play professional baseball. Though he had a very good baseball season, playing Class A minor league ball, he found he missed football and re-enrolled at Stanford in the spring of 2013. That was a good decision for the Cardinal. Gaffney has been a vital piece of the Stanford offense this season.
Gaffney has excellent running back size. He is listed at 6’1 – 225. He is a good athlete, and while he is no burner, he is strong, explosive, and is an excellent between-the-tackles-type runner. He doesn’t have great top end speed, I would estimate his speed at 4.63, but he is quick and has a burst. Stanford plays in a pro-style offense, and Gaffney is often lined up as a single back behind the QB. He has good initial quickness to go along with very good vision and instincts. He is a very good decision maker who can pick and slide to the opening and burst. He runs low, with power, and has outstanding balance to consistently get yards after contact. To date he has run for 1296 yards and a 5.2 per carry average. He has also run for 16 touchdowns. The best stat is that he only has been hit for a loss a total of 8 yards this season. He is best as an inside runner but is effective outside also. In the pass game, Gaffney shows good hands and gets production as a screen and check-down receiver. After the catch, he is quick to turn up field and get positive yards. He is not overly elusive, but he can make a quick cut to make the first man miss. As a pass blocker, he is alert and does a good job picking up blitzers. He can face up and anchor against pass rushers.
Gaffney will never be a home run hitter because he lacks the top speed, but in the NFL, he will be very similar to the way he is in college. He will be effective as an inside runner, short yardage receiver, and pass blocker. Guys with those traits have a way of playing a lot on Sunday. I don’t see him getting drafted in the premium rounds (first and second), but he could very easily be picked in the third or fourth. I have no doubt that he will be a productive rotational back in the NFL.