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2018 NFL Draft prospect profile: Kalen Ballage (RB, Arizona State)

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Is Kalen Ballage an under the radar option to be a versatile power back for the Giants?

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Oregon State Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants will likely look to add some size to their offense this offseason. They consistently fielded an undersized offense, particularly at the skill positions, under Ben McAdoo, and it limited them in some of the match-ups they could create and exploit.

New general manager Dave Gettleman has long favored bigger players, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him continue that trend in New York.

The Giants may also want to add to their running back position, and give it the “thud” it has lacked in recent years. Additionally, Pat Shurmur likes to use running backs who receiving ability to threaten defenses in a variety of ways.

Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage brings the size that Gettleman seems to favor as well as the receiving ability Shurmur likes. Could he be a Giant in 2018?

Measurables

Pros

  • Imposing running back with a powerful build.
  • Great long speed to missed/broken tackles into big gains
  • Impressive receiver. Natural “Hands” catcher.
  • Willing pass protector.
  • Shows a good burst in short-yardage situations.

Cons

  • Balance through contact is an issue.
  • Questionable vision.
  • Doesn’t always produce up to his physical talent.
  • Must be a north-south runner.
  • Willing, but not great pass protector.

Prospect video

What they’re saying

Winner -- Kalen Ballage/Arizona State: We’ve been down on Ballage, even saying he “looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane,” after a pedestrian performance this season. Ballage’s play this week in Mobile finally matched his physical prowess, as the 6-foot-2, 222-pound runner showed explosive athleticism and smooth receiving skills in addition to holding up in pass protection. Running backs tend not to stand out with the lack of contact at Senior Bowl practices, and while that actually may have helped Ballage, who ran smaller than his listed size at times during his Sun Devils career, he also impressed during Saturday’s game with 10 carries for 57 yards. Scouts have long been intrigued by his size and athleticism, and that intrigue with remain throughout the rest of the postseason process.” - Tony Pauline, DraftAnalyst “Senior Bowl Risers -- Offense

Does He Fit The Giants?

Ballage is an easy prospect to get excited about. He just looks the part at 6’2”, 222 pounds, with great hands and the speed to make highlight-reel plays. All of that is going to earn him a shot in the NFL.

However, taking a closer look, there are some things that give pause, namely Ballage’s balance through contact. It is just a little too easy for a stray hand to the leg to get him stumbling or spinning his wheels behind the line of scrimmage. And once that happens, his run is all but over. His height (and consequently high center of gravity) only makes the issue worse. He’s at his best running down-hill, but all too often he gets tripped up in the trash around the line of scrimmage.

Given his receiving ability (64 receptions, 640 yards over the last two seasons), a team might even consider moving him to wide receiver. He often ran screens, wheel, and check-down routes out of the backfield, but at times was split out wide as a true wide receiver as well. If he can handle learning the nuances of playing the position at the NFL level, that would certainly help minimize his other issues while maximizing his size, long speed, and hands.

Pat Shurmur’s offense frequently took advantage of running backs’ receiving ability, so Ballage very well could be on the Giants’ radar.