Ka’Deem Carey is one of the bigger named running backs in college football. He’s 5th in the NCAA in rushing yards this season, after being 1st a year ago. But when scouting a player, you can pretty much throw all stats out the window. It’s more about the process than the result.That said, there are 10 qualities of a running back that I’m looking for when watching a running back. I’ll go through each of those and finish off with the grade I give Carey.
You’ll hear the term “quick feet” thrown out a lot as we get closer and closer to the draft. It doesn’t matter if you run a 4.3 40, if you don’t have quick feet, you’ll never get the chance to showcase your speed. Quick feet is taking the minimum amount of steps to get through a hole. This is what’s needed to succeed as an NFL running back. Holes in the NFL close so fast, that you need quick feet to and through the hole. It’s also important to be light on your feet
This isn’t one of Carey’s main assets. While he’s light on his feet, he doesn’t have the quickest feet. He’s more of a long strider as opposed to taking short, choppy steps. It’s not technically a negative trait, just not a strength.
Without question one of the most important traits for a back to have. You have to be able to make people miss not only in the open field, but in tight spaces. In the NFL, your blockers won’t be able to do all the work for you, like in college. That’s the best way for me to describe elusiveness. This is the difference between the C.J. Spiller’s & the Doug Martins, compared to the Shonn Greene’s & the Beanie Wells’ of the world.
I was impressed with Carey’s ability to not only make people miss in short areas, but to do so without any wasted movements. Carey does it with one cut, or a stiff arm and is so effective.
Carey’s elusiveness was on full display against Utah, who has a solid front 7.
Only a 6 yard gain, but he’s met at the line of scrimmage, and gains the 6 yards all on his own.
This next example, 2 defenders approach Carey in the hole, and he runs right by him. He doesn’t get any yards after contact in the stat sheet, but he should.
What I’m looking for is guys that I can count on. Guys that won’t get hurt. When they do get dinged up, guys that won’t sit out of games. Everyone is hurt now, I want running backs to play through it. Being tough is a mindset.
All I can remember is Carey having a slight ankle injury a few weeks ago, but I don’t think he missed any time. He’s about as dependable as it gets for a guy who carries the ball as much as he does. He’s certainly an every down back that can be relied on.
Carey isn’t going to go CJ2K on us and run a 4.24, but as the above GIF illusrates, he also has more than adequate long speed. Carey looks like he has around 4.5 speed, possibly as low as 4.47 speed. Anywhere in between there is what I’m expecting. Good, but not great speed.
This is tough, because Carey isn’t asked to do a whole lot in pass pro. That doesn’t mean he’s not capable, he’s just not being asked. The main reason rookies don’t get on the field is because they can’t block. You have to be able to protect the quarterback.
Ka’Deem has shown the ability to realize where the blitz is coming from, make the proper cut block, and do his job. I’m not looking for Maurice Jones-Drew to blow up Shawne Merriman
. That just doesn’t happen. I’m just looking for a back to know his protections. Carey not being asked to do could be part of the offense, but might be a little concerning.
This is when a back can move side to side without losing any speed. Does he have to come to a complete stop to make you miss? Just think of Barry Sanders
Because Carey is a long strider, his agility suffers at times. Again, not to a fault, but should be pointed out. It’s early on in the play where I’m concerned. Once he gets to the second level, there’s no problem. But you can’t continually have good change of direction behind the line of scrimmage with a stride like his.
Carey has 19 catches on the season. But that really doesn’t mean much. Is the back catching the ball with his hands? How is his route running ability? Can he adjust to the ball in the air?
Again in this offense, Carey is limited with what he’s asked to do in the passing game, mostly swing routes, screens, and check downs out of the backfield. However, I did see him run a wheel route and make a great adjustment out on an under thrown ball. You can see the talent there. But without more of a workload it’s hard to say he’s a “great” receiver.
This is, in my opinion, the most important trait for a back. This is the reason Alfred Morris ran for 1600 yards last year. This is the reason Frank Gore has been so great in his career. Vision is what separates good from great backs. Our running back coach always said “Slow to, fast through.” A back must have patience through the hole and the vision to see it.
If there’s a strength to Carey’s game, it’s his vision. He has incredible vision, especially in the open field. I mentioned his footwork, his vision more than makes up for his quick feet/agility. He does a great job at finding the cut back lane, or finding creases to get through in the running game.
This is what I look for in all backs, any size. Can you break arm tackles? Can you turn 0-1 yard gains into 2-5 yard gains?
This is the second most important trait if you ask me. Quickness>Speed in my opinion. It’s imperative that the back bursts through the hole. I want to see “angle breakers” when I’m watching backs. How quick can they get to top speed? Not worried as much as their long speed.
Carey sees the hole and explodes through it.
|Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10
|| 8.5 – 9.0
|Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round
|| 8.0 – 8.4
|Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round
|| 7.8 – 7.9
|Reliable Starter, 2nd Round
|| 7.5 – 7.7
|Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round
|| 7.0 – 7.4
|Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round
|| 6.5 – 6.9
|Productive Backup, 5th Round
|| 6.0 – 6.4
|Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round
|| 5.5 – 5.9
|Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round
|| 5.0 – 5.4
|Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round
|| 4.5 – 4.9
|Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations
|| 4.0 – 4.4
|| < 4.0
The final grade I have for Ka’Deem Carey is 7.45. So an early 3rd round grade. I don’t think he makes it out of the second round. He’s too reliable of a player. He’s doesn’t have “blue chip” qualities to where you would take him in the 1st. I just can’t see teams passing up on him the second time through. Especially with the added zone blocking schemes throughout the NFL today. A scheme in which he would absolutely thrive in due to his great vision and quickness.