Shawn Childs’ Top 5 Prospects
Josh Jacobs, Alabama
Resume won’t be the friend of Jacobs heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, but his talent does shine through when given an opportunity. Over his 40 games at Alabama as a part-time player, Josh rushed for 1,491 yards on 251 carries with 16 TDs plus looked the part of an upside player in the passing game (48/571/5). He runs with patience, vision, and power while lacking the finishing speed to top off a long run for a TD. His lateral movements come with his eyes looking for daylight at the second level of the defense. Once Jacobs turns upfield, he can burst through holes while finishing his runs with the fight. His hands grade well in the receiving game. His questions coming into 2019 will be his pass protection skills and route running. Josh has the size and attitude to handle himself in pass blocking with some coaching and in-game experience. His path reminds me of Kenyan Drake. I don’t expect Jacobs to a be an every-down back in his first season while also understanding his landing spot in the NFL draft will determine his early career opportunity. When combining pass catching with goal-line TDs, his game should be more than viable as an upside RB2 in 2019 in the Fantasy market.
David Montgomery, Iowa St.
When looking for the next impact back in the NFL, a Fantasy owner needs to identify players with impact traits while offering game breaker qualities. I don’t get that feel from Montgomery. He has a grinder type feel who runs well to daylight. His top end speed is below par. David will break some tackles, but he needs more upper body strength. Over his last two seasons at Iowa St., Montgomery rushed for 2,362 yards with 24 TDs on 515 carries. He gained only 4.6 yards per rush, which is unimpressive at the college level. He picked 71 catches for 582 yards in his college career. Many of his TDs came on short easy runs while lacking open field moves and vision to create more significant plays. A second tier player at RB in the 2019 draft class who will need volume of touches to be productive at the NFL plus find a home for a team with strength on the offensive line.
Miles Sanders, Penn St.
With the great Saquon Barkley in front of him on the depth chart in 2016 and 2017, Sanders gained only 429 combined yards on 64 touches with four TDs and eight catches. In his first season as a starter last season, Miles failed to get the whole show leading questionable stats in the run game (2220/1274/9) and the receiving game (24/139/0). His path to college painted him as a high-upside RB with plenty of experience touching the ball. Sanders offers an excellent combination of short area speed with vision and power. If given space after breaking the line of scrimmage, he knows how to get defenders flat-footed with subtle moves and head and shoulder fakes. Miles follows his blocks well with a gear to burst through the line while breaking tackling with his legs. His value in the receiving game looks below par based on his opportunity. If given a chance in pass protection, I expect Sanders to handle his job. Overall, he comes into the draft slightly underrated, but I see enough to be a serviceable lead back in the NFL in an early down split role with a complimentary pass catching back.
Damien Harris, Alabama
For me, Harris has the “it factor” an NFL team should be looking for in a lead back in the NFL. He gives off the appearance of bigger back than his size (5’10” and 216 lbs.). His first step acceleration after downshifting in tight quarters gives him many winning plays. Damien drives through contact with a unique feel for more open field. Harris tests defense when reaching the second level of the defense with his vision and power. His senior year at Alabama (1,080 combined yards with nine TDs and 22 catches on 172 touches) failed to show growth over his previous two seasons (1,136 combined yards with four TDs and 14 catches and 1,091 combined yards with 11 TDs and 12 catches). His pass catching opportunity was short due to Josh Jacobs shining brighter in this area. Harris doesn’t fumble, and his game grades well in pass protection. I expect him to be the second RB drafted in 2019 while being a Fantasy darling if landing in the right opportunity.
Darrell Henderson, Memphis
When reviewing Henderson’s 2018 highlights, a Fantasy owner will be giddy over his explosiveness and his ability to finish off long runs for TDs. Over his last two seasons at Memphis, Darrell gained an impressive 8.9 yards per rush. Last year he scored 11 TDs of 54 yards or more leading to 2,204 combined yards with 25 TDs and 19 catches on 233 touches. His speed (4.9 40 yards dash) doesn’t support his explosive ability at the next level, but his movements and strength point to a viable NFL career. Henderson can break arm tackles plus foresight to see developing big holes. His next step is proving he can maintain upside in tighter quarters plus earn impact touches. I expect value as a receiver in the passing game while needing to prove his worth in pass protection, which wasn’t the case in college. His next step is learning to harness his desire to look for the home run play while adding patience and timing to his game when facing tighter quarters at the line of scrimmage. Henderson has to be a player of interest for an NFL team looking to add three-down talent to the RB position.