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Scout’s Notes: Analyzing RB Prospects Based on Carries, Receptions

Bobby RaineyNow that the “Scouting Notebook” is done because of, well, a lack of consistent football games, I’ll be putting up 3-4 “Scout’s Notes” each week that are snippets of scouting notes, news, tips, and tidbits about this draft class.

In today’s “Scout’s Notes”, I’ll take a look at the two stats that I look for when looking at running backs. While I am a huge advocate for staying away from stats in terms of scouting, because they rarely tell the actual picture, by looking at a running back’s carries and catches, you can see their future “shelf life” as well as their versatility as a future NFL runner.

I looked a few weeks back in the Scouting Notebook at the number of carries for the Top 10 Juniors that could declare for the draft. Those players are all still included, but I’ve added the current seniors as well that will be in this draft as well.

The total number of carries is a major factor in scouting running backs, as the amount of hits a runners take, especially when considering size, could mean how many potentials years and carries they have in the NFL. Some players, like Ray Rice, finished their college career with 750+ (Rice had 910) and have long careers in the NFL. But generally, as a runner, the rule is (in my opinion) that if you’re over 750 carries (or 3 years of 250 carries) you either should get to the NFL quickly or, if over, you likely won’t be able to last more than 4-5 years in the NFL.

Top Senior/Junior Running Backs by Carries (Career)
1. Bobby Rainey, Western Kentucky, 895 carries
2. Rodney Stewart, Colorado, 809 carries
3. Montell Harris, Boston College, 787 carries (RETURNING)
4. Lance Dunbar, North Texas, 782 carries
5. Chris Polk, Washington, 769 carries (JR)
6. LaMichael James, Oregon, 721 carries (JR)
7. Alfred Morris, Florida Atlantic, 732 carries
8. Bernard Pierce, Temple, 638 carries (JR)  
9. Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M, 632 carries
10. Robbie Rouse, Fresno State, 616 carries (JR)
11. Asher Clark, Air Force, 616 carries
12. Doug Martin, Boise State, 586 carries
13. Dan Herron, Ohio State, 581 carries
14. Robert Turbin, Utah State, 565 carries (JR)
15. Bryce Beall, Houston, 553 carries
16. Montee Ball, Wisconsin, 536 carries (JR)
17. Trent Richardson, Alabama, 520 carries (JR)
18. Rex Burkehead, Nebraska, 514 carries (JR)
19. Zach Line, SMU 501 carries (JR)
20. David Wilson, Virginia Tech, 427 carries (JR)

Based off this list, it looks like (if following the 750 rule), Bobby Rainey, Rodney Stewart, and Lance Dunbar may fall to the late or out of the draft, especially since each of those runners is below 5’9. Also based on the rule, Chris Polk and LaMichael James are going to the NFL, with Bernard Pierce, Robbie Rouse, Robert Turbin, Montee Ball, and Trent Richardson passing that total easily if they return.


As for receptions, these mean substantially less than carries in my opinion. Some offenses feature running backs in the passing game, some don’t. And generally, because these spread offenses rarely include runners as consistent pass catchers.

Still, if a runner can average more than 3 catches a game in college, that usually means he’s a trusted receiver on the roster.

Rodney StewartTop Senior/Junior Running Backs by Receptions
1. Rodney Stewart, Colorado, 45 rec.
2. Michael Hayes, Houston, 43 rec.
3. Tyler Smith, Rice, 39 rec.
4. Bobby Rainey, Western Kentucky, 36 rec.
4. Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati, 36 rec.
6. Kama Bailey, Idaho, 32 rec.
6. Robbie Rouse, Fresno State, 32 rec. (JR)
8. Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M, 31 rec.
9. Chris Polk, Washington, 29 rec. (JR)
9. Antwon Bailey, Syracuse, 29 rec.
9. Lance Dunbar, North Texas, 29 rec.
12. Trent Richardson, Alabama, 27 rec. (JR)      

Based on this list, we can only really gather that Rodney Stewart, Michael Hayes, Tyler Smith, Bobby Rainey, and Isaiah Pead are solid receivers out of the backfield. Pead is the best of the bunch, as he has the size and quickness to be a zone offense runner, but his versatility also adds to his value. Again, while the players #6 and below don’t really show great catching ability, Robbie Rouse, Cyrus Gray, Chris Polk, and Antwon Bailey are solid receivers out of the backfield, but none of their offenses really feature the runners.


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