Over the past five years, the Florida State football program has asserted itself as a running back powerhouse. Dalvin Cook burst into the NFL this season as the lead back for the Minnesota Vikings. Devonta Freeman remains one of the best running backs in the NFL. Chris Thompson has emerged as a dynamic threat for the Washington Redskins. The good news for devy owners is that FSU will continue to produce high-quality NFL running backs. In this article, we will look at the four current running backs who will push each other to one day make an impact in the NFL.
Cam Akers is one of the best running back prospects I have seen in some time, and devy owners still do not appreciate how good he will be. Jacques Patrick is a big powerful back, who has the size and skill set to have a role in the NFL. Amir Rasul is a dynamic young running back who is very talented, and Khalan Laborn is one of the most talented freshman running backs in the country.
In backfields loaded with talent, it is very difficult to ignore the lower production numbers from these players, but it also allows devy owners to target incredibly talented players who are undervalued. In evaluating running back prospects, I want the advanced metrics to line up with the tape. I am looking for running back prospects to have good size, speed, lateral quickness, productivity, and good vision. It is important to note that the FSU offense was dramatically crippled early this season after losing Deondre Francois for the season to a knee injury.
By the Numbers:
Cam Akers: Size – 5-11/215, Age – 18.3, Projected Draft Age – 20.7, Projected 40 Time – 4.41 sec.
Jacques Patrick: Size – 6-3/231, Age – 21.8, Projected Draft Age – 22.2, Projected 40 Time – 4.59 sec.
Amir Rasul: Size – 5-11/196, Age – 19.4, Projected Draft Age – 20.8, Projected 40 Time – 4.51 sec.
Khalan Laborn: Size – 5-11/199, Age – 18.8*, Projected Draft Age – 20.9*, Projected 40 Time – 4.57 sec.
*Undocumented age, however, Laborn is a true freshman.
Cam Akers size and speed are exactly what we look for in running back prospects. He is also very young for a running back producing against strong college completion. Jacques Patrick has the size to play in the NFL right now, and his projected 40 time is pretty good for a man his size. Amir Rasul and Khalan Laborn are both leaner running backs with mediocre speed on paper.
Cam Akers: 2017 Rushing Stats – 139/735/3TDs(9G), YPC – 5.3, Dominator – 23.3%, 2017 Receiving Stats – 15/102/0TDs
Jacques Patrick: 2017 Rushing Stats – 81/437/2TDs(7G), YPC – 5.4, Dominator – 18.9%, 2017 Receiving Stats – 14/94/0TDs
Amir Rasul: 2017 Rushing Stats – 15/62/0TDs(7G), YPC – 4.1, Dominator – 2.5%, 2017 Receiving Stats – 1/12/0TDs
Khalan Laborn: N/A
*Dominator = Player’s percentage of team’s total offense, rushing and receiving.
Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick are the two lead backs in the FSU running offense and carry the majority of the workload. For Amir Rasul and Khalan Laborn, is it very unfortunate that they will have to play alongside Cam Akers throughout their collegiate careers. Cam Akers’ 23.3% dominator is incredible. Especially when considering he is only 18.3 years old, and the competition in the FSU backfield. Jacques Patrick’s stats show that he is serviceable in the passing gaming, which is very important to note for a running back of his size. With very little production to date, it will be very interesting to see who’s role between Rasul and Laborn will grow in 2018, with Patrick likely on his way to the NFL in April.
Cam Akers: Rushing History – NA, Impact Age – 18.3
Jacques Patrick: Rushing History – FR: 63/314/5.0/5TD(7G), SO: 61/350/5.7/4TDs(12G), Impact Age – N/A
Amir Rasul: Rushing History – FR: 6/46/7.7/0TD(2G), Impact Age – N/A
Khalan Laborn: Rushing History – NA, Impact Age – NA
*Impact Age = Age of player the first season they have a 20% dominator, mid-season.
Cam Akers’ impact age is about as good as it gets, and we always like to see age-adjusted production from top end prospects. Jacques Patrick has posted respectable numbers over the past three seasons when taking into consideration he has been fighting for snaps with Dalvin Cook and Cam Akers. Amir Rasul will likely not see significant usage while at FSU, while Khalan Laborn may have one season without Akers, as he has not played one game this season.
By the Tape:
Pros – Outstanding all-around running back. Extremely quick running inside, and explodes out of cuts to create space with ease. Great patience and vision and he has tremendous power and balance. His combination of speed and power is truly incredible.
Cons – I see none.
Pros – Big, strong, powerful running back, who is very difficult to tackle and is tough as nails. He has good vision, decent burst and long speed for his size, and is surprisingly elusive.
Cons – Lacks lateral quickness and agility.
Pros – Very quick runner in tight space. Makes good cuts, and has good lateral agility and quickness, which makes him quite elusive. Rasul has solid speed and good burst.
Cons – Not a powerful or tough runner.
Pros – Patient runner with good vision and instinct, who is very elusive. Tremendous burst, and good lateral quickness.
Cons – Lacks a bit of power, and does not play tough
All four of these running backs show well on tape and have the potential to one day play in the NFL. Cam Akers is the real deal and could be an elite talent in the NFL. Jacques Patrick is a big strong running back who features skills that could allow him to be more than just a grinder at the NFL level. Amir Rasul is a shifty runner, who could be used as a change of pace back at the NFL level. Finally, Khalan Laborn looks like he could be a very good player in the NFL one day. I also expect Laborn to take over as the number two back immediately next season if Patrick heads to the NFL. He is a very intriguing prospect and will continue to have his value suppressed due to lack of production, as he will be playing alongside Cam Akers.
Current Devy RB Rankings:
Cam Akers – RB#3
Khalan Laborn – RB#27
Jacques Patrick – RB#39
Amir Rasul – RB#43
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