STRENGTHS - Highly productive throughout his college career, Ball is a multi-dimensional back. Ball's experience and good coaching shows in his excellent patience following blockers and waiting for them to make their blocks. He does an excellent job of sitting on blocker's hip until they open hole and then has a quick burst through the hole. Deceptive foot quickness and agility let Ball change directions fast to make sharp cuts. He can make the quick cut to avoid defenders who shoot into the backfield, to bounce runs outside and to make tacklers miss. He has consistently shown the ability to bounce runs outside when the middle is clogged up and has the speed to get around the corner. Ball does an excellent job of running aggressively between the tackles, lowers showers to make himself a smaller target and with his combination of playing strength and balance can run through arm/grab tackles to gain yards after contact. Although Wisconsin did not use him a lot in their passing attack, Ball has displayed good hands catching passes when he got the opportunity and at his Pro Day. He understands pass protection and knows who he is supposed to block.
WEAKNESSES - Ball is a good, but not elite athlete - Quicker than fast, there are concerns about his ability to out-run angles to take runs the distance - He did not put these to rest when he ran in the 4.6's at the Combine and the 4.5's at his Pro Day. He has carried the ball a ton at Wisconsin and has battled some injuries, so his NFL durability is a real question mark. Despite knowing what he is doing in pass pro, he does not consistently give a good effort and needs to greatly improve his technique. He came out of the game in most passing situations at Wisconsin, so he will need to prove he can contribute to an NFL team's passing attack.
SUMMARY - Ball surprised many when he returned to Wisconsin for his senior season adn things did not start out well when he was beaten up and suffered a concussion during the off-season and struggled with injuries early in the 2012 season. However, once he got healthy he showed the same skills/talent that he had earlier in his career and once again looked like a future quality starting back in the NFL. Not likely to ever win fastest running back competitions, Ball has a good burst through the hole to get behind the defense and is tough to bring down. More elusive than he gets credit for, Ball has consistently shown the ability to make sharp cuts to get to open space on the other side of blockers and to make tacklers miss in tight quarters, which is a rare skill. Ball will need to improve his pass blocking technique and effort to be a three down running back. Overall, despite being knocked in the media, I believe Ball can become a quality starting back who is productive running between the tackles and consistently gains yards after contact. If he improves in pass protection he could become a valuable and versatile three down running back in the NFL.