This week, with rookie mini-camp upcoming, we’ll be taking a look at some of the lesser-known rookies selected in the 2019 draft – the Day 3 Crew.
I’m going to be honest and I’d like to get this out of the way – of the Panthers’ 2019 draft picks, this is the one I’m least positive about. I like Brian Burns, really like Greg Little and they may have found a diamond in the rough when it comes to Dennis Daley. But when they went with a running back like Jordan Scarlett in the fifth round, I balked.
Having said that, I do think there are some things he does well, as well as some things that I am a bit less sure of, so with that all in mind, here’s why I think there is hope for Jordan Scarlett, and why he might not be a shoe-in to make the 53.
The Running Of The Ball
It’s easy to forget, given what Christian McCaffrey does on a game-by-game basis, that for the vast majority of running backs in the NFL, the passing game is something they occasionally factor in – with the core of the running backs’ game being their ability to gain yards inside the tackle box; this is certainly the strength of Scarlett’s game. The most impressive thing about him on tape is his contact balance – he does a good job of staying on his feet through light and medium contact, with tacklers who don’t wrap up or who aren’t able to hit him square frequently bouncing off him:
To aid this, he also does a nice job of subtlety and frequently changing direction, making it harder for defenders to line him up and leading to more of the arm tackles that he does such a good job of fighting through:
The combination of these two leads to some really impressive runs, and while Scarlett certainly isn’t some track star, his middle-gear speed is very good; while he doesn’t take many runs to the house, if he is able to get to the line of the scrimmage, he is able to accelerate well to make the most of those intermediate runs:
However, while he does a nice job of working through lighter contact and the like, he isn’t a pure power rusher, and those defenders who were able to square him up before the tackle were usually able to bring him down without surrendering much additional yardage:
After all, at under 210 pounds, Scarlett just lacks the momentum to truly run over people, and while he does a decent job of keeping his legs churning, he just doesn’t have the raw power to be seen as much of a short-yardage option or a pure inside power rusher. Additionally, while he does a good job of changing angles on defender and forcing arm tackles, when he does get put one-on-one with defenders in space, he lacks the kind of agility needed to make many NFL-caliber defenders miss:
In short, as a pure ball carrier, Scarlett does some nice things, and works through traffic well with a decent amount of power, but if the Panthers were looking for a short-yardage thumper, he likely isn’t that – neither is he going to be topping the missed tackle charts due to his agility and quickness, but he does have the ability to add yardage to what is blocked for him at times.
Up Next: A Runner’s Vision