If there are two types of players that fans love to root for, it’s the exciting player who can create highlight reel moments on any play, and the feisty under-dog who just refuses to get beat.
The Iowa Hawkeyes got a twofer in running back Akrum Wadley.
Wadley is a smaller running back whose stature makes him an easy player to root for, while his play-making ability makes him a fun player to watch. It also helps that he has a genuine talent for running in the zone blocking system which forms the basis for the Iowa offense.
The New York Giants could be switching to more of an outside zone-based running game, so let’s take a closer look at Wadley.
- Played in a Pro Style running game.
- Incredibly quick runner. Able to change directions without losing speed.
- Very good feel for zone runs. Able to set up blocks and knows when cut-back lanes are available.
- Capable receiver despite 8 ⅛ inch hands. Caught 64 passes in the last two seasons at Iowa.
- Uses his size to his advantage, hiding behind blockers and presenting a small target for defenders.
- Small back. Size and slight frame might be disqualifying for teams.
- Not at his best in man-gap runs.
- Often looks lost in pass protection.
- Doesn’t have great top-end speed.
What they’re saying
“Smaller, quicker backs tend to excel in the Senior Bowl setting, and Wadley did just that. His quickness and shiftiness were on full display, he loses nothing through multiple cuts and he surprises with power when he runs behind his pads. He hid behind blocks well before busting through the hole and played with balance while looking natural as a receiver, catching the ball with ease and quickly getting upfield, and he likely boosted his draft stock by at least a round.”
- Tony Pauline, DraftAnalyst
Does He Fit The Giants?
The 2018 NFL Draft is loaded with talented running backs, and that is going to make Akrum Wadly fly under the radar. He was productive at Iowa, but not eye-poppingly so, and it will be easy for people to overlook him physically.
However, put a football in his hands and he just comes alive. Wadley is one of the more instinctive runners in this draft class, especially when it comes to zone blocking schemes. Those runs let him use his vision, agility, and stature to great effect to find running lanes and pick his way through the trash around the line of scrimmage. He also shows a knack for varying his tempo to throw off defenders’ timing and force poor angles.
New Giants’ head coach Pat Shurmur ran a tremendous amount of outside zone plays as the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. If he wants to bring that running scheme to the Giants, Wadley would be a good fit, but he might be too small for general manager Dave Gettleman. Should the Giants want a physical “Tone Setter” they’ll be looking elsewhere.