“Running backs don’t matter.”
That’s an aphorism you often hear nowadays. And while that isn’t exactly true, it is true that teams are able to find talented running backs throughout the NFL draft, and the 2023 NFL Draft class will likely have good runners selected on all three days.
We don’t know if the New York Giants will be in the market for a running back, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see them draft a runner at some point if the value is right.
DeWayne McBride hasn’t gotten quite as much buzz as some other runners in this draft class, but he’s been one of the most consistently productive running backs in college football over the last two years.
Could he become a Giant?
Weight: 215 pounds
Games Played: 31
Yards (YPC): 3,523 (7.3 per carry)
Games Played: 12
Yards (YPC): 1,714 (7.4 per carry)
Best: Contact balance, vision, competitive toughness, stop/start ability, athleticism
Worst: Burst, receiving, ball security
Projection: A primary rotational running back with starting upside in a zone running scheme
UAB running back DeWayne McBride has a good blend of size, athleticism, vision, and competitive toughness to play the position at the NFL level.
McBride has been very productive for the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and has been responsible for more than 3,000 yards of offense and 32 touchdowns over the last two years. He is a good-sized running back at 5-foot-11, 215 pounds and is capable of both consistently moving the offense forward as well as generating explosive plays.
McBride primarily ran out of either a shotgun or pistol set in UAB’s offense and is at his best in outside zone blocking schemes. He has good vision and commits quickly to a primary running lane, while also running with good tempo behind the line of scrimmage. He has patience, running right up behind a blocker before suddenly making his cut and bursting through the hole.
McBride has impressive contact balance and is difficult for lone defenders to bring down. He has a rare ability to simply bounce off of would-be tacklers and almost completely disregard attempts at arm tackle or shoulder checks. He also has very good long speed once he gets to the second level. While McBride doesn’t quite have elite speed, he has plenty of speed to create chunk plays or even home-runs.
His style may get him described as a “one-cut slasher”, however he also has the ability to pick his way through traffic. He does a good job of identifying cut-back lanes, and his contact balance lets him change direction multiple times while keeping his speed. He also has great competitive toughness and routinely fights for every possible inch after contact.
McBride’s traits suggest that he would be a dangerous weapon out of the backfield, but that’s something of an unknown at this point. He was only rarely used as a receiver in college, and only as a (very) occasional check-down option in the tape viewed.
He can also stand to improve as a pass protector at the NFL level. McBride is willing and knows where to be, but he doesn’t seem to attack defenders. All in all, he is more of a nuisance than an obstacle in pass protection, and might be pretty quickly discarded by NFL caliber rushers.
Finally, McBride will need to improve his ball security at the NFL level, with 11 fumbles over the last two seasons. While that isn’t too many given his volume of carries, his tendency to always run with just one hand on the ball is concerning. He prefers to use his off hand to help navigate traffic, but that does open him up to being stripped. Teams might reserve faith in him until he proves he can protect the ball at the NFL level.
Overall Grade: 7.2
McBride projects as a primary rotational running back early in his career, with the upside to be an every-down starter in an offense that calls a high rate of outside zone runs.
McBride has the vision, balance, quickness, and toughness to execute a wide variety of runs, but he’s at his best in outside zone runs. McBride has excellent stop-start quickness, as well as enough speed to exploit a defense that’s been stressed laterally. His vision and quickness allow him to press his runs into the back of the line of scrimmage before suddenly cutting and bursting upfield. McBride is a very difficult runner to bring down and not only does a good job of keeping his offense on schedule, but is also always a threat to turn a “good” run into a big play.
He’s something of an unknown as a pass catcher and his pass protection could use development. He should be an every-down back once he polishes those areas of his game. McBride’s quickness, body control, and athleticism should make him a dangerous receiving back.
His tendency to run through traffic with just one hand on the ball will give coaches heartburn. McBride much prefers to keep one hand free to navigate traffic, but NFL defenders are bigger, stronger, and faster than what he’s used to. They’re also frequently coached to attack the ball as much as the ball carrier.
McBride has the potential to be a good runner at the NFL level and a fan favorite early on.