Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

10 May 2013

Andy Reid Loves True Sophomore Running Backs

I'm in the midst of working on a running back projection model that will run in Football Outsiders Almanac 2013, and came across this incredible (at least to me) factual nugget: From 1999 to 2013, there have been 431 college running backs who either were invited to the NFL combine or were drafted despite no combine invitation. Of those 431, 266 amassed some amount of DYAR over the course of their NFL careers.

Of those 266 running backs, only three got drafted as true* sophomores, and their names are LeSean McCoy (2009), Dion Lewis (2011), and Bryce Brown (2012, though his situation was much more complicated). You don't have to be Mike Tanier to notice that the Andy Reid-era Philadelphia Eagles were responsible for all three picks.

Obviously, McCoy's track record speaks for itself and Brown was a dynamic replacement in limited action last season, so this isn't a critique. Rather, it's simply an observation worth relaying to our readership; I have no clue (as yet) what to make of it in relation to the larger picture of projecting college backs.

Discuss.

*Five other running backs since 1999 have been drafted as redshirt sophomores: Willis McGahee (2003), Knowshon Moreno (2009), Ryan Williams (2011), Ronnie Hillman (2012), and Lamar Miller (2012).

Posted by: Danny Tuccitto on 10 May 2013

13 comments, Last at 27 Jan 2014, 7:52am by mntrsse

Comments

1
by Joshloz (not verified) :: Fri, 05/10/2013 - 7:23am

True sophomores? How can anyone be drafted as a true sophomore? Am I missing something?

2
by apk3000 :: Fri, 05/10/2013 - 7:39am

Well, if they sit out a year between high school and college, that would satisfy the NFL draft rules and make them a true sophomore.

3
by CBPodge :: Fri, 05/10/2013 - 7:58am

Lewis and McCoy both went to prep school for a year after high school. Brown played a year at Tennessee, then sat out a year after transferring to Kansas State, which I imagine must not count as a redshirt year?

4
by CBPodge :: Fri, 05/10/2013 - 7:58am

Lewis and McCoy both went to prep school for a year after high school. Brown played a year at Tennessee, then sat out a year after transferring to Kansas State, which I imagine must not count as a redshirt year?

7
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 05/10/2013 - 10:35am

Others have already touched on this somewhat, but the NFL draft rules say nothing about how many years of college a draftee must complete. 3 years out of high school -- that's the only requirement. No requirement to have even attended college at all.

8
by Danny Tuccitto :: Fri, 05/10/2013 - 6:41pm

Can phrase it differently as "guy who entered draft with two years of eligibility left without ever redshirting."

5
by lumberjack (not verified) :: Fri, 05/10/2013 - 9:13am

Get 'em young, and beat 'em like a rented mule.

6
by Dean :: Fri, 05/10/2013 - 9:28am

The obvious answer - which may or may not be correct - is that Reid sees a combination of talent and low mileage.

It could also be coincidence, but that wouldn't be nearly as interesting.

9
by The Hypno-Toad :: Sat, 05/11/2013 - 2:17am

Judging by Moreno and Hillman, redshirt sophomores are a crappy gamble to take. It was very weird listening to people fall all over themselves in Denver to say that Moreno had finally arrived last season while he was averaging 3.7 (iirc) ypc. And Hillman was just painful to watch, even if you ignore his so-called blocking on passing downs.
The difference between the low mileage alleged speed back in Hillman last draft and the ultra-high mileage presumed pounder in Montee Ball this draft seems to point to different scouting voices being emphasized in the war room for the Broncos.

11
by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Sun, 05/12/2013 - 3:02am

It could simply be a reaction to Hillman not turning out as well as was hoped. No need for controversy in the war room.

12
by Doc Beara (not verified) :: Sun, 05/12/2013 - 10:17am

Hillman was frequently used late in game to run out the clock by hitting into the line. There was no fineness, no attempt at deception - just your smallest back ramming into the heart of the defense, usually with defenders already in the backfield. I'm unclear as to how that's a bad thing on Hillman's head. It's the opposite of how they play to use him in the future.

10
by Theo :: Sat, 05/11/2013 - 9:00pm

2 is coincidence, 3 is a trend?

13
by mntrsse (not verified) :: Mon, 01/27/2014 - 7:52am

Andy Reid Loves True Sophomore Running Backs is a good share and such news updates are necessary to inform and keep the readers updates about the changes and happenings. I am glad to be here and now I can easily visit the site for more.
seo optimization