In today’s NFL teams have started to trend more towards a running back by committee role. They will have a group of two or three guys who split carries throughout the season. This not only helps the team but helps take the burden of a lot of carries off one player. These running backs are used in both the run and pass game, offering a multitude of abilities to benefit their team.
While going through my summer scouting series I was surprised to find out how high many were on Stanford running back Bryce Love. Below I highlight my biggest concerns with him entering the college football season.
Pumping the Breaks on the Bryce Love Hype Train
Perhaps Love’s biggest strength going into the college football season is his speed. Yes, he can pretty much outrun most people on the opposing defense but Love also has the burst, lateral agility, and long speed that teams look for.
In terms of burst, Love possesses the ability to turn the jets on and explode through the hole once he sees it. This allows him to get to the second or third level with ease. Love also is an excellent linear runner with the acceleration out of his breaks to make him a home run threat every play.
Between the Tackles
In terms of being a superb running back in the NFL, you need to be consistent and effective both inside and outside of the tackles as a runner. This is an area that is worrisome for Love going forward. If he can’t beat you with his speed he fails to be able to gain the yards needed. He lacks the necessary strength needed to power through defenders and effectively run the ball up the middle.
In terms of contact balance and visions, he isn’t particularly strong in either area. He constantly fails to anticipate or see defenders on the second level. Love’s contact balance is below average, and it causes him to be taken down easily by arm tackles or less. Due to his lack of strength, he also is very limited in his blocking ability. His size, hand usage, and strength limit his ability to pass protect and cause him to get beat too often.
In today’s league, you need a back who offers some receiving ability to help maximize the potential for your offense. This is another area that is worrisome for Love when evaluating him. Last season in Love’s first full year as a starter he only caught the ball a total of six times. In those six catches, he recorded only 33 yards and zero touchdowns. This is the same offense that threw Christian McCaffrey the ball 99 times in his career. While the receiving stats don’t look good it is worrisome on why he doesn’t get thrown to more often with his big playmaking ability and speed.
Overall, like any prospect, Love has his strengths and his weaknesses. While he still has at least another season to show he can improve on those weaknesses they are something to be noted going into the season. Love has some traits that many teams look for but his ceiling in the NFL is a question mark.
At this time he looks best suited for a running back by committee role. This would limit his carries but also allow him the chance to shine in the right opportunities. He could break apart if put in a role where he’s asked to be the lead back in an offense. His frame and limitations as a runner and blocker should limit him for shouldering a heavy load early on in his career.
This brings up the question of when would you draft a guy who needs a compliment? Love doesn’t look to be the early round draft pick many have made him out to be at this moment. Of course, it’s important to remember that he has a lot of time to grow as a player over this season.