There is a growing movement in the Dynasty community toward “devy” players. The term “devy” refers to developmental players carried on the dynasty league rosters. These devy players are usually college players but can even be high school athletes. During each week of the season, we will look at a different set of devy rankings.
We began the season looking at the potential 2017 NFL Draft class, beginning with the quarterbacks. This week, we are examining the top running backs eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft.
As we survey devy prospects, we will be looking at traits, abilities, and skill sets that will translate to the NFL. So, let’s get started on ball carriers who might be selected high in the 2019 NFL Draft. Since these players are Freshmen so much could change in the next two years. Also, much of the ranking is a projection into future versus performance in year one.
8. Demario McCall (Ohio State) – The 5’9”, 176-pound true Freshman is a speedy play-maker. The Buckeyes have incorporated McCall into the lineup behind Mike Weber, especially in lop-sided games. He was highly ranked by the recruiting services. ESPN had McCall as the 2nd best running back in the class and 247 Sports had him as the 2nd ranked all-purpose back. ESPN ranked McCall as the 38th ranked player in the recruiting class. On the season, McCall has carried the ball 49 times for 270 yards and 4 touchdowns. He has added 4 more receptions for 84 yards and another score. For a role player, McCall should see his role increase once Curtis Samuel leaves for the NFL.
7. Benny Snell (Kentucky) – The Freshman is powerfully built (5’11, 220 pounds) and has anchored a strong Wildcat running game. Even though he did not play in the first two games of the season, losses to Southern Mississippi and Florida, it only took Snell nine games to top the 1,000-yard mark. Kentucky has leaned heavily on the Freshman. Snell was not heavily recruited out of Westerville Central (Ohio). He was the 41st ranked tailback by 247 sports. In the win over Missouri, Snell carried the ball 38 times for 192 yards and a pair of scores. On Saturday, in the huge upset victory over arch-rival Louisville, Snell carried the ball 11 times for 51 yards and a touchdown. This brought his season totals to 1,057 and 13 touchdowns on 179 carries.
6. B.J. Emmons (Alabama) – Emmons was the top-ranked ball carrier on several recruiting lists but is currently buried on the Alabama depth chart. He has the size and speed to be a great NFL player, but it will take time. The Freshman is a physically gifted player with great size (6’0”, 206 pounds) and good athletic ability. However, Emmons has been out of action for a while with a sprained foot.
5. Elijah Holyfield (Georgia) – Evander’s son was a huge “get” for the new Bulldog coaching staff. While he is not playing much behind Georgia’s star tailbacks (Nick Chubb and Sony Michel), do not take this lack of playing time as an indictment on Holyfield. He will be a very good college back. Rivals had him ranked as the second-best tailback in the country coming out of high school. The 5’11”, 215-pound runner looks like his father and is muscular like the former fighter.
4. Joshua Jacobs (Alabama) – Jacobs is a 5’10”, 200-pound Freshman out of McLain high school in Tulsa, OK. He played quarterback as a Sophomore before transitioning to running back. The Freshman was highly recruited by Oklahoma and other large programs but chose Alabama. Jacobs is a very good running back and an explosive receiver out of the backfield. While overshadowed by Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough, Jacobs still is getting consistent carries almost every game. The Crimson Tide uses all three running backs liberally as coach Saban leans on the defense and a strong running attack. With the other backs playing well in the win over Auburn, Jacobs only had 5 carries for 32 yards, including a 26-yard burst. He now has 516 yards and 3 touchdowns on 77 carries. Jacobs has great feet and makes defenders miss.
3. Devwah Whaley (Arkansas) – At 6’0”, 197 pounds, many do not appreciate the burst and agility of Whaley. Many schools recruited him as a defensive back due to his fluid hips and short-area quickness. Whaley ran for 1,530 yards and 21 touchdowns during his Senior year in high school. He has started his college career strong and should finish the season in strong fashion. On Friday, against Missouri, Whaley carried the ball 8 times for 54 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter of the contest. That brought him up to 601 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on 105 carries. In the Missouri game, Whaley showed solid burst and gave the sluggish Razorback offense a spark when he was on the field.
2. Trayveon Williams (Texas A&M) – The smallish back (5’9”, 192 pounds) has been very impressive as a true Freshman. In the double-overtime victory over Tennessee last month, Williams ran the ball 28 times for 216 yards and a score. The week following his coming out party, college analysts were fawning over Williams’ ability. Todd McShay said that he has been "really impressed" with the youngster’s "raw ability, particularly his burst and top-end speed." Many are more familiar with other superstars on the Aggies like Myles Garrett and the wide receiving corps, but Williams has been a difference-maker for the team. On the season, Williams has carried the ball 147 times for 1,024 yards and 8 touchdowns. He has added another 81 yards through the air. When projecting his potential in the NFL, Williams will need to add mass if he is to be anything other than a scat back. But, there is no denying his ability to make plays.
1. Mike Weber (Ohio State) – Weber is a stout (5’10” 215 pounds) running back who has gotten a chance to shine after Ezekiel Elliott bolted for the NFL. The redshirt Freshman has added a powerful element to the Buckeyes running game. In the big win against Oklahoma earlier this season, Weber carried the ball 18 times for 123 yards. Weber was stifled for most of the game against Michigan. In that contest, the Freshman only carried the ball 11 times for 25 yards and a touchdown. But, on the season, weber has toted the rock 177 times for 1,072 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Also, keep an eye on:
Miles Sanders (Penn State) – The 5’11”, 210-pound true Freshman has played sparingly behind Saquon Barkley. Even in limited action, Sanders has flashed big-time ability. Coming out of high school, ESPN's Tom Luginbill said Sanders "could quickly become a feature guy not just as a running back, but also as a return man and pass-catcher … Utility weapons who can create matchup problems are also becoming quite coveted in today's NFL game." ESPN had the play-making Freshman as it 67th ranked prospect coming out of high school. We expect Sanders burst onto the scene in 2018 after Barkley heads to the NFL.
Kareem Walker (Michigan) – Walker was very highly recruited, and by all the major football schools. He chose to play at Michigan over Florida State, Ohio State, Clemson, and many others. The Freshman was ESPN’s 45th overall player in the recruiting class. Walker is a powerful runner with NFL size (6’1”, 210 pounds). Coach Harbaugh announced last month that the Wolverines are keeping Walker’s redshirt intact this season and saving him for the future. To give an idea of Walker’s immense upside, we offer his high school statistics. In four years at DePaul Catholic High School, Wayne, NJ, Walker accumulated 4,563 rushing yards on 557 carries and he scored 55 rushing touchdowns. He did this damage in only 40 games. Walker makes a great stash in devy leagues. The one concern is that coach Harbaugh loves using a committee at the running back position.
Tavien Feaster (Clemson) – Feaster is a local South Carolina product from Spartanburg. He has an NFL build (5’11”, 202 pounds) and brings elite speed and quickness. After signing with Clemson, the true Freshman was compared to fellow Clemson alumnus C.J. Spiller by coach Dabo Swinney. As a senior at Spartanburg High, Feaster accumulated 1,971 all-purpose yards and 21 touchdowns. He was a consensus top-60 player nationally among the recruiting services. Feaster played in the U.S. Army All-American game. In addition, he was first-team USA Today All-American and rated as the No. 14 player in the nation by 247 Sports. Feaster has played sparingly behind Wayne Gallman this season. He will be the starter next season after Gallman heads to the NFL.
Damarea Crockett (Missouri) – The true Freshman is the lone star on the Tigers offense. The 5’11”, 212-pound back has carried the ball 153 times for 1062 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He missed last Friday’s game against Arkansas due to a suspension stemming from an arrest last week for marijuana possession. That arrest came hours after a monster game in the loss to Tennessee. In that contest, Crockett rushed for 225 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. This game marked Crockett’s fifth time over the 100-yard mark this season. He is a much better athlete than fans realize. Crockett scored the highest SPARQ (speed, power, agility, reaction, quickness) ranking at the Dallas Nike Combine, posting a mark of 124.62, the top mark among almost 1,200 athletes at the combine while ranking second-best nationally.
Feel free to email me (Tefertiller@Footballguys.com) with feedback. Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIn, and Google+, so you can ask me questions on one of these as well.
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