Building the Perfect SEC RB
In this edition of SEC Frankenstein, we’ll be creating the perfect running back from the best ball carriers in the Southeast. With so many amazing running backs being drafted out of the SEC in years past, the conference has become known for its plethora of talent at the position. That is no different this year, with a handful of names potentially going in the first couple of rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft. When building the perfect RB today, we’ll be evaluating their vision/patience, speed, strength, hands, and elusiveness.
When it comes to waiting for the whole and hitting it at just the right time, there is no SEC running back better than Larry Rountree III. While he doesn’t possess the physical traits, other SEC running backs have, he wins games using his head. Missouri isn’t exactly a CFB powerhouse, nor is their offensive line elite at creating running lanes. However, even with these deficiencies, Rountree III consistently was able to seek out the best gap possible in 2018. His style of play was reminiscent of Michigan State Le’veon Bell, who also lacked the elite physical tools (he later gained in the NFL) but made his mark by being patient and always hitting the right gap.
Ty Chandler, Tennessee
In terms of a player who is a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball, Ty Chandler is the guy in the SEC. While he lacks in other departments of his game – elusiveness, vision – he has the straight-line speed to rarely be caught from behind. If Chandler gets around the corner of a defense, they’re done for.
In addition to his track speed on long runs, Chandler also possesses exceptional burst and acceleration. This makes him a perfect candidate for work in the screen game as well as his ball carrying duties. While he may not have a superstar future in the NFL, he has all the capabilities of a gadget-type player.
Najee Harris, Alabama
I mean…how could I not pick the 6-2, 230-pound freak of nature out of Alabama? Najee Harris has the build of a legitimate linebacker, and is absolutely the strongest running back in the SEC in every way. Arm tackles simply do not work on Harris. If you want to tackle him, you have to have the courage to square him up and try to lay the boom on him. However, that usually goes in the opposite direction.
Besides being invincible to arm tackles, Harris also packs a mean punch of his own. His stiff arm is all he needs to fight off weaker opponents, and lowering his shoulder is enough to move an entire pile of players. Perhaps his most impressive feat of strength, though, is his consistency in falling forward and gaining extra yards when he’s brought down. He uses his momentum well, and it’s what puts him in the upper tier of running backs in the SEC.
Quite simply, there are a lot of good pass catching backs in the SEC. However, none stand out quite like Vaughn does. While he is used prominently in the screen game, there is no doubt he could line up at wide receiver if asked to. He has the hands and the route running needed to be a premier pass catcher out of the backfield this season. He is one of the most complete backs in the SEC, and his work catching the ball is what separates Vaughn from the rest of the pack.
D’Andre Swift, Georgia
Do yourself a favor. Go to YouTube (after you finish reading this article, of course) and watch D’Andre Swift’s highlights. This is probably the nerdiest I’ll ever sound, but his dead leg juke is quite literally one of the top three football moves I’ve ever seen in my life. His change of direction is absolutely elite, and he never stops moving his feet. Swift in the open field is one of the scariest sights SEC defenders will see this year, as I can’t recall I saw a time where a defender was able to stop him in a 1 v. 1 scenario.
Whether it is a sudden stop, change of direction, spin moves, jukes, elite balance, or a combination of the above, D’Andre Swift has proven thus far in his college career that the one word that perfectly describes his style of play is his own last name.