CRR Rookie RB Grades

Updated: October 7, 2017
Rookie Rb Grades. Photos by Jonathan Daniel, Michael Zagaris, Matthew Lewis, Sean M. Haffey, and Hannah Foslien

CRR Rookie RB Grades

In the 2017 NFL Draft, there were players drafted in the 7 round 3-day extravaganza. Players of every position in football were drafted and even signed as free agents afterward. It is well documented that as the neighborhood running back, I love the position with a passion!! It is the most important position in football, Am I Right? (Biased you ask, YES). I may not have a degree to teach Math, History or English, BUT I am qualified to grade the running back position. *Ding Ding* Rookie RB Grades Class is in session!!

Kareem Hunt (KC) – This young man has taken the entire league by storm and put everyone in it on notice. He was my favorite running back in the 2017 draft and I believed he was the total package. So far, that assessment has been accurate. He has a rare blend of speed, power, vision, toughness, and elusiveness. He can be labeled as “slippery” (not a migos reference), he just slides off would be tacklers and keeps churning. Some backs need to run over defenders in order to force missed tackles, but Hunt uses slight movements while toting the rock. He leads the league in rushing with 502-yards off of 68-carries which is 7.4 yards-per-carry. In four games, he is halfway to 1,000 yards, that is insane!! He’s also displayed soft hands in the passing game, just watch his 78-yard touchdown week one vs the New England Patriots. Hunt can run a diverse set of plays: power, stretch zone, pistol, single-back, and read options. I believe his best attribute is balance; he is able to stay upright and continue to drive for more yards. Considering he was underrated/valued before being selected in the 3rd round, he has been the best through the first quarter of the season. Grade: A+

Dalvin Cook (MIN) – The former Florida State Seminole burst on the scene week one vs the New Orleans Saints in the tune of 22 carries for 127 yards!! In college, he was one of the best homerun hitters in the nation, but he also had the blend of power to add. He lost his starting quarterback heading into week 2 vs the Steelers, he still was able to find success with a backup quarterback. He is a hardnose runner that prefers to play old-school football. He’d prefer to run power plays and halfback dives instead of the “cute” outside runs like most speed backs. He has shown great agility, vision, and burst, especially on cutback runs. He has done a good job in pass protection, giving his quarterback an extra second or two. The biggest knock on him thus far has been drops, he is third with 3 on 16 targets. Unfortunately, Cook is out for the season with a Torn Acl. This is horrible considering he was the only contender to Kareem Hunt for ROY. Grade: A

Tarik Cohen (CHI) – The small star from a small school, the “Human Joystick” was overlooked for a few reason in the draft. Of course, his height, weight, and overall build did not help his case. The 4th round pick entered the league as simply a third down back/special team ace. He has shown that he is more than a specialty player. Cohen has displayed extreme toughness (see week one vs the Atlanta Falcons). He took some shots in that game and I expected him to stay down for a bit, but he popped up with no issues. He has been able to power through arm tackles and even deliver a few blows of his own. He has caught the ball well in the passing game, showcasing his versatility. Ask the Steelers how effective the miniature back can be, he terrorized them to the tune of 12 carries 78 yards. He should’ve had the walk-off touchdown in Overtime, but a fluky out of bounds call wiped it away. He has earned more touches and a bigger role in the offense. One knock is ball security, Cohen has two fumbles with one lost on the season. The all-around jitterbug has been a pleasant surprise for the Bears. I’m intrigued to see if he can continue to be an impact player for this offense. Grade: B-

Christian Mccaffrey (CAR) – The former Stanford Cardinal was selected 8th overall in the draft. He was expected to be an impact runner as well as a receiver. Arguably, he possesses the best hands in the draft from any player. You will not find a more advanced route runner at the running back position in the NFL today and possibly history. After a quarter of the season has concluded, Mccaffrey has been less than stellar on the ground and I am being really respectful at the moment. He currently ranks 56th out of 195 chartered rushers this season. He has a measly 31 carries for 89 yards rushing, that is an average of 2.9 per-carry!! If Trent Richardson was lead to slaughter for a similar amount of yards-per-carry, then we must be prepared to do the same if nothing changes. Mccaffrey is currently leading the Carolina Panthers in receptions and 3rd in receiving yards. Honestly, the kid has been very underwhelming for a top ten draft pick. His play has raised some red flags again. I didn’t believe he was the best running back in the draft by any means and he hasn’t proved me wrong yet!! Right now CM looks better suited to play slot wide receiver than running back right now. Overreaction? Sure!! Grade: C-


Leonard Fournette (JAC) – The former LSU Tiger was selected 4th overall in this year’s draft. He has been a bit of a surprise in the first quarter of the season. After being drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with one of the league’s WORST quarterbacks (Blake Bortles), I had low expectations for the 6’1 235-pound battering ram. Fournette has showcased good vision, great power, surprising patience and adequate elusiveness in his first four games. Everyone was aware of the power he possessed, but many doubted he would be able to catch the football. He has 12-receptions for 125-yard w/ one touchdown. That aspect of his game has been a pleasant surprise. Leonard has been able to shoulder a load consistently that was not expected in this offense. He’s show to be a short stepper when running the ball, he does not eat up grass with his stride. If he used his stride properly on a consistent basis, it would allow him to cover more ground and separate from oncoming defenders. It could improve his 3.5 yards per carry average, and escape the first level of the defense quicker. Overall the Jaguars running back has been a nice addition and I am looking forward to seeing more of him as the season progresses. Grade: B



Honorable Mentions:

Joe Mixon (CIN):B-

Alvin Kamara (NO):C-

Samaje Perine (WAS): C-

Elijah Mcguire (NYJ): C

D’Onta Foreman (HOU): C+

Chris Carson (SEA): C+


In another four weeks, I will return to bring you my latest grades for these rookie ball carriers and more!!!

Damian Parson is an Analyst for Couch Rider Report. Follow him on Facebook and Follow/Like us on Facebook or twitter.

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