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2018 NFL Draft: Trio of running backs are likely Day 2 picks

NFL Draft Report breaks it down

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft Report takes a look at the current crop of talent available who could hear their names called during the draft’s second day event.

Nick Chubb - Georgia

143.91 – Chubb’s SPARQ Rating still holds as the highest score ever attained in that scoring system for a series of agility tests. SPARQ is an acronym for Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness. The SPARQ Rating is a scoring system designed to measure sport-specific athleticism. The results from various tests in each of the areas of speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness are combined and weighted using a sport specific formula.

The SPARQ Rating tells you in which areas you should concentrate your training and where you can improve. A companion system, SPARQ Training, gives the athletes a variety of drills, programs and information to improve in their sport.

SPARQ score takes into account five characteristics; player weight, 40-yard dash time, 20-yard short shuttle, bench press and vertical jump. These measurables correlate to “bigger, stronger, faster”, testing speed and agility against a players size to “normalize” the results. A 300-pound lineman running a 4.6 is far more impressive than a 210-pound defensive back running a 4.45, for example.

Body Structure...Chubb has an athletic, thick frame with good upper body muscle development. He has good arm length, big hands, broad shoulders, wide chest, tight waist and hips, good bubble and well developed thighs, but lacks a great wing span.

Athletic Ability... Chubb is an excellent downhill runner, a pounder who runs with a low pad level and shows good leg drive and short area burst past the line of scrimmage. He is not elusive or blazing fast, but does a very good job of climbing up field. His power was also highlighted, as 20 of his touchdown runs came from goal-line plays. He shows very good footwork, balance and body control, along with fluid moves once he negotiates past the trash. He has very good leg drive and initial quickness for his position, showing impressive pick-&-vision ability, as he does a very nice job of sliding through the hole. He is a strong runner that can break arm tackles, but just lacks that second gear/home run speed, yet he can still rip off a long gainer.

Football Sense...Chubb is as smart as he is physical. A patient runner who lets his blocks develop, the only issue with his field makeup is that he needs to be more conscious of ball security. He reads defenses well and has a very good feel for cutback and inside rush lanes. He knows how to shift his weight forward after initial contact and lowers his pads well when staying in the backfield to challenge blitzers. On the field, he shows great field vision and awareness.

Initial Quickness...Chubb might lack great long distance speed, but he can generate a functional second gear when he gets in space and is a savvy runner with good hip wiggle and head fake that forces a defensive back to over-commit. He also shows good pick and slide agility that forces the second level defenders to take poor angles. He comes out of his stance with good spring in his steps, as he stays low in his pads with shoulders squared to navigate through trash. The thing that you notice on film is his ability to generate in-stride quickness when adjusting and changing direction. He has that short area burst, along with the ability to take a side to avoid low blocks.

Acceleration/Burst...Chubb has a good short burst through the hole, but only average acceleration and long speed. He will rely more on power to gain yardage after initial contact rather than utilizing his hip swerve and wiggle to elude. Based on films, his burst is good for short space runs. He is more quick than fast and reaches top speed quickly, along with generating a functional (almost adequate) second gear. He has steady acceleration on extended runs, but is more ideally suited for shorter carries at the next level.

Instincts/Balance...Chubb runs over his feet with good base and balance. He sets up his blocks well, has above average field vision and displays a natural feel for the running lanes. He has that low center of gravity, strong leg drive and very good balance taking the ball up the gut. He is a pure power runner with above average downhill ability. He does a good job of lowering his shoulder and driving through initial tackles. He has a very good feel for anticipating rush lanes and also displays good body control redirecting to the cutbacks. He displays very good vision on the move and while he might not have “make you miss” speed, he has no problem dragging defenders for more yardage. When he sees the seams, he hits them hard, showing a good feel for defenders squeezing through the holes.

Inside Running... Chubb is a pure downhill runner. He shows very good plant-&-drive ability and has the ability to sink his weight and drive through most piles with above average leg power. If a defender tries to give him a side, he easily blasts through arm tackles. He runs inside with good body lean and awareness to pick and slide. He has the ability to bounce outside with a short burst, but he’s not going to win long distance races. He has enough change of direction agility to make second level opponents miss, but is best served as a north-south runner than one who can impact going around the corners. He has good vision and burst through the inside, generating a good surge to move the pile. He is more nimble than elusive, preferring to use his pile moving ability to gain additional yardage.

Outside Running...Chubb lacks “make you miss” speed, and is not really elusive, as he’s sort of a bull chasing and running over people rather than try to juke an opponent to death. He has good veer that makes it hard for secondary types to get a bead on him with a good angle. He is more of a one-cut type when he gets past blockers up field, but even though his success comes inside mostly, he does have twelve runs for over 20 yards last year.

Elusiveness...Chubb has some jitterbug moves and shows shifty hips, but is more of a pile mover than one who will elude. He has to rely more on power and cutting ability, as he is never going to be an elusive runner. He is fluid in his stride, along with above average body control, but most of his yardage past the second level comes from him overpowering tackles rather than escaping them (see 2017 Appalachian State, Mississippi State, Oklahoma games).

Tackle-Breaking Strength...Chubb is much stronger than even his Combine weight numbers indicate, especially in the lower body. He shows good spin agility to ping-pong off tackles and does a nice job of avoiding low blocks with a nimble sidestep. He runs with good body lean and keeps his feet churning while lowering his shoulder to drive through an opponent. His big runs came by delivering a strong stiff-arm to escape (see 2017 Samford, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Kentucky games). The best way to describe his running style is bullish. With his pad level low and his ability to power through arm tackles, he has had great success moving the chains, thanks to his leg drive and balance.

Tendency to Fumble...While he improved to the point where he did not fumble at all on 223 carries last year, Chubb needs to be more conscious of ball security. He would generally carry the ball too exposed in his right hand during his first three seasons and this resulted in nine fumbles, but he has also had to deal with poor awareness after those fumbles, as opponents easily recovered six of them, five leading to scoring drives. He seems to have learned to distribute it away and to the outside of a defender and keeping it close to his body, thus preventing the exposure that resulted in quite a few balls being stripped from his grasp from 2014-16.

Receiving Skills...With just 31 receptions in 47 games, Chubb is barely involved in the passing game.

Route Running...Chubb has just adequate quickness getting into his route and you don’t see much flexibility adjusting to the ball and working his way back when the pocket is pressured. He’s not really used except for dump-offs, but you would like to see better body control to adjust and get under the throws when on the move. Still, outside of flares, arrows and comebacks, his route regimen is limited.

Blocking Ability...Chubb is a good cut blocker and is alert to blitzes and stunts, showing the ability to face up, but despite impressive power and a strong hand punch, he needs to sustain his blocks longer. He shows a wide base and good anchor, but will get his hands outside his frame. He can generate good pop shooting his hands, but has to keep them more active when trying to sustain.

Injury Report...While he has played in 47 games the last four years, Chubb has had several medical issues. On October 10th, 2015 Chubb suffered ligament damage to his left knee that required reconstructive surgery after an examination revealed that he tore his posterior, medial and lateral collateral ligaments, missing the seven games. He missed the second half of the Mississippi game in September, 2016 after he sprained his ankle on a carry during the second quarter. He had 12 carries for 57 yards before the injury.

Compares To...Cedric Benson-ex-Chicago Bears...Like Benson, Chubb’s game is built around his power. He is not the type who will win open field foot races, but he will simply run over a defender that gets in his way. He’s a bit of a liability as a receiver and I am sure a few teams have medical concerns, but if he’s still available in the third round, he could bring good short term value, if his knee holds up.

Kerryon Johnson - Auburn

Body Structure...Despite weighing 213 pounds, Johnson is built more for the hardwood court than the gridiron. He has an impressive wing span, good arm length and big hands, but he is more in the tapered line where muscle tone goes. He has just average thickness in his thighs and calves, good bubble, but lacks broad shoulders. He also displays a tight waist and room on his frame to add at least another ten pounds of bulk, but is woefully lacking in the power department (11 reps in the bench press).

Athletic Ability...Johnson has decent initial quickness and timed speed, but it is his exceptional body control and balance in his running stride that really stands out. He keeps his pad level low to generate solid lower body power in attempts to break tackles. He builds to top acceleration and runs with a normal stride. He has adequate change of direction agility and does a good job of twisting and adjusting his body on the move. He doesn’t have the breakaway speed to pull away from the pile, but his balance and strength let him run over and through the initial tackle when he keeps his pads down. When he tends to get erect and high in his stance, he can be pushed back through the rush lanes. He is more of a north-south runner than a shake-and-bake type, but is consistent in keeping his feet upon contact.

Football Sense...Johnson shows good field vision and awareness running with the ball and is quick to locate the cutback lanes. He needs only normal reps to retain plays and is smart enough to comprehend a complicated playbook. He has good football sense working back when the quarter-back is pressured in passing situations. He has a natural feel for the rush lanes and shows the ability to adjust to game situations.

Initial Quickness...Johnson comes out of his stance with decent initial quickness, but it is his balance and body control, rather than explosion, that helps him build to top speed through the holes. When he keeps his pad level low, he shows a good forward body lean through the rush lanes, but he does tend to get high in his stance at times, causing him to get pushed back through the creases, despite obvious leg strength to break tackles. He has good in-line lateral quickness and has that first step and lateral quickness to make second level defenders miss. He won’t generate sudden movement to gain advantage, but does have decent snap quickness.

Acceleration/Burst... Johnson is effective at varying his speed and setting up defenders with his moves rather than generating suddenness off the snap. He has a good short area burst, but not the sustained speed to threaten in the deep secondary. He can effectively gain valid yardage past the line of scrimmage, but it is more due to his balance rather than strength. He shows a strong stiff-arm to defeat the initial tackle, but lacks the wiggle and shake to elude. He can build to top speed nicely, but it is not enough to be considered a valid breakaway threat.

Instincts/Balance...Johnson has excellent balance, doing a nice job of squeezing through tight areas. He shows the vision to quickly recognize coverage and has a good feel for the defender and the power to run through his opponent. He has a natural feel for cutback lanes and the instincts to know when to redirect and bounce outside. He won’t generate any special moves to create much space on his own, but has the leg drive to gain valid yardage on the move.

Inside Running...With Johnson’s body frame and running style, he is tough to bring down in man coverage. He does a nice job of lowering his shoulders, leaning forward and driving with his legs to break the initial tackle. He has the change of direction agility to redirect, but doesn’t rely on his impressive pick-and-slide agility as much as he should. He shows good effort to keep his feet and adjust when navigating through tight areas, but his problems arise when he gets too high in his stance, as defenders can then attack his legs and bring him down. Still, he has the nimble feet to pick his way through trash and shows the awareness to let his blockers allow the play to develop. He is capable of anticipating the defender’s moves and runs with good forward lean to gain valid yardage after initial contact.

Outside Running...Johnson has the agility to bounce to the outside. He won’t win long distance races, but has enough of a functional initial burst to at least move the chains consistently. He is not the most explosive when trying to reach and turn the corner, but has that natural vision to locate the short area’s soft spots and clear lanes. He can accelerate some on his cuts, but is just adequate taking the ball long distances (just three of his 18 touchdowns in 2017 were for 10 yards or longer).

Elusiveness...Johnson doesn’t have the “make you miss” moves in the open, but relies more on balance to gain yardage after initial contact. He is more comfortable as a straight-line, north-south runner rather than execute nifty moves to elude. He has the vision to adjust and the awareness to recognize coverage. He has functional lateral quickness, but it is rare to see him juke and disappear from the pile turning the corner. He is better off setting up tacklers and running off his blocks, as he has the leg drive, foot balance and hip snap to be more effective.

Tackle-Breaking Strength...Johnson’s balance is evident by his ability to break tackles, but it is more due to toughness and determination than raw power. Coming out of his stance, he keeps his pads down, getting the tough yardage through trash. But, he will get high in his stance attacking the second level and defenders are then capable of getting low to attack him at his legs, as he doesn’t have the agility to side-step around the pile. His low pads and churning legs lets him explode into the defender on initial contact, letting him consistently break tackles. Their are times when he will get turned back when he runs too tall through the creases or tries to get fancy by juking a defender along the perimeter. He is simply not a classic “thumper” with the power to punish opponents, but he will fight for every inch he can get.

Tendency to Fumble...On 519 rushing attempts, Johnson has fumbled just three times.

Blocking Ability...Johnson does not show much interest to face up when blocking. He generates a strong hand punch and solid placement to sustain, but needs to be more alert to stunts and blitzes in pass protection, as he absorbs more than delivers when blocking there. He is just not going to go out of his way to take on the defensive linemen or try to seek out second level defenders as a cut blocker.

Compares To...Tevin Coleman-Atlanta Falcons...Like Coleman, Johnson has a narrow frame, but good thickness and decent muscle tone on his body. He is not going to blow up defenders, as he simply lacks raw power, but he does runs with a physical temperament, keeping his pads down to effectively break arm tackles. Opponents have had a hard time combating his aggressive running style and what impresses scouts the most is the toughness he shows trying to finish his runs, consistently doing so with good forward body lean.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl-South Practice
Rashaad Penny
Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Rashaad Penny - San Diego State

Overview...For three seasons, Penny shared rushing duties with Donnel Pumphrey, who went on to become the NCAA’s third all-time leading rusher with 6,405 yards. Penny has contributed 3,656 yards to the cause, but 2,248 of those yards came after he replaced Pumphrey as the Aztecs’ featured back.

The 2017 Season...Penny racked up numerous postseason accolades, highlighted by a fifth place finish in Heisman Trophy voting (most outstanding player in college football). The fifth-place finish in the Heisman was the best by an Aztec since Marshall Faulk finished fourth in 1993 (third best overall). He was also a Walter Camp Player-of-the-Year finalist, Maxwell Award semifinalist (college player of the year) and Doak Walker Award semifinalist (nation’s premier running back).

Penny was named a first-team All-American by The NFL Draft Report, Associated Press, FWAA, The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, USA Today and CBS Sports, becoming the third consensus All- American in program history (also Marshall Faulk in 1992 and 1993, and Kyle Turley in 1997). The Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year also became the first player in league history to win MWC Special Teams Player of the Year three times.

Body Structure...Penny has a fire hydrant type of frame - a tight build with overall muscle development, wide shoulders, good chest development, tight waist, big bubble, cut/muscular legs, but limited room for further growth without impacting his timed speed.

Athletic Ability...Penny has valid timed speed, but it does not always translate to the field, as he has a bit of a hitch coming out of his stance, preventing him from generating good explosion into the holes. His hands are effective at securing the ball, but he did fumble five times over the last two years. He is a small, but well-built athlete who is a shifty runner with good hands as a receiver. He has good quickness and balance, but might lack the suddenness or change of direction skills to bounce the ball wide for big runs at the NFL level, despite obvious success in college (level of competition was just adequate). He has the body control to be very effective catching passes out of the backfield or in the slot, making him a possible better prospect as a third-down back and return specialist, but you can see that he is a Maurice Jones-Drew type of ball carrier - fighting for yardage until the whistle. Simply put, he looks the part of a decent athlete with impressive timed speed who can utilize those skills to produce big numbers on the football field in the NFL, but a team will have to pick their spots to prevent from wearing him down.

Football Sense... Penny is a good learner and also a tireless worker. He has the ability to digest a complicated playbook and will not have problems with the mental aspect of the game. He is a good program player who filled in capably as a kickoff returner waiting for his starting opportunity. He is first and foremost team oriented and very coachable. He takes a lot of pride in his work habits and served as a good team captain, leading by example.

Initial Quickness...Penny has the timed speed to get a quick start to the hole, but has a bit of a hitch in his start (hops up a bit in his stance) that erases some of his explosiveness. He is better running straight ahead, but at his college level of competition, he used his balance well when having to suddenly redirect or bounce to the outside. He has worked hard this year to show quick cut ability in the open, as he did show times where he would gear down and start up again as a ball carrier earlier in his career and that negated his speed.

Acceleration/Burst...Penny has the speed to make the initial tackler miss, but until 2016, you just did not see him selling his moves or generating a sudden burst to escape. Now, he looks consistent coming out of his cuts, as he does a nice job of selling his routes and getting behind the defensive back to settle in the soft area of the zone as a receiver, along with good cutback ability and vision to locate the rush lanes when having to redirect.

Instincts/Balance...Penny has the vision to locate threats, but at the NFL level, he will need to stay on the hip of his blockers better, as he sometimes outruns his coverage. He does a good job of squaring his shoulders and lowering his pads to break arm tackles. His strong legs help him get through trash and he does run with good authority, also demonstrating good ball security, but he is lacking strength in his upper body.

Inside Running...Penny might have great timed speed, but while his thick frame spells power, he is sorely lacking in this area. Still, he does fairly well moving the ball inside. He is not a player that will run over the larger defenders, but he is tough and feisty enough when taking the ball up the gut to get good yardage after initial contact. He keeps his legs churning through the holes, but will get pushed back often when he gets too upright in his stance.

Outside Running...This is where Penny has been productive as a ball carrier. He is blessed with that rare balance runners can only hope for, which allows him to generate the second gear to escape when bouncing wide. He is also comfortable running between tackles, but can be stopped by a strong defender in his face. He is a shifty runner with the burst and acceleration to turn the corner and he has good vision and adequate speed to gain yardage working around the edge.

Elusiveness...Penny is fast and as a returner, he has that “make them miss” type of burst, but as a ball carrier, he did not show the body torso or hip wiggle to elude when turning the corner until the 2016 season. He shows the vision to avoid, but has to be more consistent making the jump cut. He is better using his speed to break free on the edge then when trying to power through the pile playing in between tackles.

Tackle-Breaking Strength...When Penny stays low in his pads, his balance and leg drive gets him success in breaking tackles (see 2017 Arizona State, San Jose State, Army games). He will get knocked back when he fails to keep his pad level down. His problems occur when he too high in his stance, as he gets narrow and the result is that bigger defenders can engulf him, as he does lack the ideal size to move the chains. But, he has good cutback ability and shows a good burst behind his outside runs, using his head fakes and hip snap to elude tackles when he generates a lower center of gravity.

Receiving Skills...As a receiver, the Aztecs coaches seemed to have had a KISS attitude when it comes to using Penny in passing situations – keep it simple and short. He had a career-high fifteen grabs in 2017 and you wonder if he has natural pass catching ability. He also needs to use his leaping ability to get to the ball at its high point better. He might be better served as a change of pace, third-down back, but as a slot receiver or out of the backfield, I do not see quality pass catching skills.

Route Running...This is a tough area to grade Penny in, as most of his passes were on screens or flares. He needs to be more explosive getting into his patterns and you wonder if he can develop route running skills quick enough to be utilized him as a third-down back in passing situations.

Blocking Ability...Just based on his very poor weight room numbers at the Combine, scouts are pretty certain that Penny will fail to generate much force behind his hand punch. There is nothing special in his blocking at this at this point, as he needs to generate better hip snap to get into the defender.

Compares To...Maurice Jones-Drew-ex-Jacksonville Jaguars...Like Jones-Drew, Penny has that low center of gravity and quickness that he utilizes to gain advantage vs. an isolated defender. He does a good job of locating and using his down field blockers and runs with good awareness. Ball security problems arise at times, especially when he carries the ball too loose, but he is a tough, gritty player who at least will bring instant value to the kickoff return unit.