2013 NFL Draft Spotlight: RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin

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Age: 21
Height: 5’11″
Weight: 215 lbs.
College: Wisconsin
Class: Senior

 

Stats

2011 – ATT: 307 | YDS: 1,923 | AVG: 6.3 | TD: 33 | REC: 24 | YDS REC: 306 | REC TD: 6

2010 – ATT: 163 | YDS: 996 | AVG: 6.1| TD: 18 | REC: 16 | YDS REC: 128 | REC TD: 0

2009 – ATT: 98 | YDS: 391 | AVG: 4.0 | TD: 4 | REC: 9 | YDS REC: 92 | REC TD: 0

 

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Positives:

-Exhibits good patience, allowing holes to open + his blockers to set up running lanes

-Great vision, often able to see holes before they truly develop. Recognizes cutback lanes, as well.

-Hits holes with quickness and decent force, converting a good portion of his runs.

-Displays true elusiveness; often making the first defender miss.

-Highly creative with a deep repertoire of moves to break tackles; really slippery as well.

-Lowers pad level at the point of attack, routinely punishing defenders attempting to tackle him when he is able to gain momentum. Arm tackles do not bring him down.

-Stays agile in tight areas; good wiggle to him.

-Very good laterally; movement skills are smooth.

-Runs with fluidity and balance; properly keeps knees bent. Typically stays on course after taking a lick.

-Quick and active feet; rarely idles.

-Instinctual runner who ‘feels’ surrounding defenders.

-When a play breaks down he does a good job identifying when there is no crease; getting back to the line of scrimmage, losing few yards.

-Does a nice job protecting the ball through contact. Sometimes putting two hands on the rock when multiple defenders are bearing down.

-Shows a willingness to block; primarily engaging defenders with good blocking posture and knows his assignment.

-Capable of being more than a checkdown receiver. Makes quick cuts and gets up field when running routes; displaying decent hands, even when in traffic.

-Typically does a nice job of keeping eyes on the ball when making routine catches on checkdowns and swing plays, thus avoiding dropping easy passes. Doesn’t often begin looking upfield before securing the ball.

-Not necessarily a mismatch as a receiver, but lined up in the slot periodically in 2010 and exhibited the ability to run basic routes and make catches with a defender in his back pocket.

-Product of a primarily pro-style offense.

-Highly productive and durable: good Soph. numbers while playing in trio rotation + great Jr. numbers as the feature runner. Has not missed significant time.

-Strong frame with girth and muscle.

 

 

Negatives/Questions:

-Lacks a true second gear or elite level straight line speed.

-Sometimes too patient in goal line/short-yardage situations; doesn’t always attack holes in 3rd and short.

-Can get a little upright prior to engaging at the point of attack, causing backside/unseen tacklers to get a clean shot on him.

-Accelerates to top speed relatively quickly, but he does not possess high level stop and go explosion.

-After 300+ carries as the feature in his Jr. year + a full workload as the feature yet again as a Sr., mileage could be a concern.

-Albeit very minor, he was arrested in May 2012 for trespassing after refusing to leave the porch of an apartment during an annual block party.

 

 

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I was really excited and intrigued while dissecting the footage on Wisconsin runner Montee Ball. He is a complete running back with ideal vision, instincts, and between the tackle running ability. Ball’s ability to stay agile and slippery in a phone booth (tight areas) will allow him to succeed rather early in his NFL career. His willingness as a blocker and above-average running + receiving skills indicate a clear cut three-down running back projection. While he isn’t a naturally gifted athlete with violent running ability like Trent Richardson this past season, Montee Ball is everything you look for in a modern NFL rusher. That being – decisive, patient, versatile, and complete at his position. Although mileage and playing behind a near NFL-caliber offensive line are two question marks that simply won’t be answered in the pre-draft, Ball does not have many flaws as a prospect. Despite lacking the 4.3, 4.4 speed most salivate over when evaluating the position, he accelerates to his (likely) 4.5 range rather quickly. I have no qualms with tentatively slapping a 1st round grade on the player, provided he recovers from his recent assault, and can continue to flash this upcoming season, as expected. There truly may not be a running back in college football — eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft — who is as productive, pro-ready, or safer than Montee Ball.

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