Continuing our looks at some of the top running backs in the country who are eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft, today we will put Boise State’s Jay Ajayi under the microscope.
Ajayi is a 6-foot, 220 pound redshirt junior who is coming off of a huge sophomore season in which he rushed for 1,425 yards on 249 carries and finished with 18 touchdowns. He also caught 22 passes for 222 yards and another score.
Ajayi showed off his big play ability as a freshman, averaging nearly seven yards per carry. He showed last year that it could carry over to a full workload and emerged as one of the best draft eligible backs in the country, but he’s not without flaw.
This is not the most patient runner, nor does Ajayi boast elite caliber ball security…yet. Typically runners who struggle with holding on to the football can clean it up, but sometimes running backs just can’t ever get rid of their fumbling woes. If Ajayi can clean that area of his game up, he’ll likely be a second or third round draft pick.
Guys with his size and speed don’t grow on trees, but Ajayi is much more than just an athletic specimen. He runs hard, he is quick to the edge, and he can make would-be tacklers look like mere obstacles in the way of an out of control pinball.
This is a back with a pretty well-rounded skillset for being only a junior this season. I imagine as a redshirt junior he’ll likely declare himself eligible for the draft after this year unless he suffers some kind of injury that he’d want to be back in college to bump his stock back up, but right now I could see him going as high as the second round pick.
He has one-cut ability, and is hard to take down in the open field. His deep speed looks a lot better than you’d think from a back of his size. He has great overall balance, allowing him to break a lot of tackles.
Sometimes Ajayi won’t wait for his blocks to develop, playing too fast or too out of control. Like all young backs, he needs work in pass protection but seems to be a willing and capable blocker. Overall, I view him as a top five potential running back prospect in next year’s draft.
Here’s a cutup of Ajayi — the good and the bad — from the great folks at Draft Breakdown of his game last year vs. Air Force.