2015 NFL Draft: A Scout's Eye View: T.J. Yeldon RB Alabama
T.J. Yeldon RB Alabama 6'2 221 (Jr) 31 5/8" arms 9"hands
Combine Results: 4.61 40 yard dash, 22 bench reps, 36"vertical jump, 9'9" broad jump, 7.19 3 cone drill, 4.22 20 yard shuttle
-At first glance he appears too lean for the position but he has a strong lower half which gives him outstanding balance, has the size and build to be a three down back…Rare in that he has both deceptive speed and deceptive strength
-Could be one of the rare cases that will actually benefit from the increase in the speed of the game at the next level, he’s been accused of being too patient to the point of being hesistant, but the increased speed of the pro game will allow for blocking to develop in front of him faster and not force him to slow down as much. He has a Le’Veon Bell like patience as a runner.
-Was an immediate contributor at Alabama as a true freshmen, a huge accomplishment at any position for the Crimson Tide, but especially at RB where the position is consistently stacked. His ability and athleticism forced the coaches to put him on the field and not redshirt him despite the talent already on the roster.
-He could be the most NFL ready back in the class, played in a pro style system against top flight competition not only on game day but in practice as well. His patience and instincts as a runner will translate well to the next level. He should be able to seamlessly step into a RB rotation in the NFL without as steep a learning curve as most rookies face. He’s always been more than ready for the next level throughout his career, he was more than ready to go from high school to college and he’s more than ready to go from the college game to the pros.
-Very advanced when it comes to setting up his blocking and cutting off his blocking, particularly making cuts off a lead fullback, which is beginning to be a bit of a lost art with the de-emphasis of the fullback position.
-Great lateral quickness, especially for a back his size, able to make lateral jump cuts fluidly without losing much forward speed and momentum.
-Always looking to square his shoulders and get north and south, never runs out of bounds willingly, gets every yard out of every carry.
- Doesn’t possess a real strong plant foot, seems to need to stutter step to gather his momentum before cutting upfield on stretch plays instead of just planting and cutting. He does a real nice job of pressing the line and waiting for daylight, but having to gather his momentum instead of being able to just plant and cut does cost him
-Always keeps his feet moving on contact, much stronger legs than advertised, when he does lower his pads he has the ability to drive forward for yardage through tacklers, but he needs to lower his pad level between the tackles on a more consistent basis
-Has a knack and a special instinct for anticipating the cutback lane and getting there on time
-Has great agility and body control for a bigger back, has the ability to get skinny and squirt through tiny creases of daylight while still staying balanced, also has the ability to finish in the end zone through the air from just about anywhere inside the five yard line, flashed outstanding body control getting into the end zone on stretch plays when he appears to be stopped short of the goal line
-Underrated in the passing game, particularly as a pass blocker, flashes a strong initial puncg capable of stopping oncoming rushers cold and even knocking them backward at times, also does a nice job of eating up ground away from the quarterback and meeting the defender away from the passer.
- As a receiver he’s shown the ability to snatch misthrown passes away from his body pretty effortlessly. Appears to have pretty good natural hands.
- Has great instincts as a runner, very quick reflexes, has the ability to make defenders miss with his lateral jump cutting ability.
-Was never used as a workhorse so he hasn’t been as worn down and overused as most top collegiate backs, which should add years to his career.
-Runs too upright between the tackles, which exposes the football to the strip as well as exposing his body to punishment, but he does seem to consistently fall forward which with his 6’2 frame gets him extra yards on every carry.
-Has a bad habit of leaning at times before the snap which could lead to penalties and also tips off where the play is going before the snap, a habit which will cost him against top cerebral linebackers.
-His strong lower half allowed him to shake off many high tackles at the collegiate level, but he’d benefit from a little more upper body size and strength…not a huge amount, but maybe 5-8 pounds of added muscle in his upper body.
-Capable of playing and producing in any type of run blocking scheme.
-Good nose for the end zone, has the body control to finish on stretch plays by leaping and stretching the ball over the pile-on and has the strength in his legs to run behind his pads and drive through defenders and through the goal line.
-Compares favorably to Le’Veon Bell, quicker and more agile and not quite as big and strong, but has a similar body type, shrunk down a bit and a very similar running style with his patience and vision which has served Bell well at the NFL level and should also serve Yeldon well.