Size is overrated. Yeah, it’s something that intrigues teams and creates an endless amount of buzz but it doesn’t breaks up the factor of rather or not a player can be in the NFL. The running back position is becoming an undermined spot in the NFL because of the league being a passing sport and having many teams with three-back system.
The value of a running back has been decreasing for a while so teams are looking for the most complete backs that can fit their scheme specifically. Guys that could be fitted anywhere on the field to make plays and not just the backfield.
Players that have enough speed to break out into open-field and enough power to run between the tackles. When adding all of these factors you may not find many that check the list off like Tyler Ervin from San Jose State.
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As a senior for the Spartans, Ervin was one of the most versatile play-makers in the country. Playing positions ranging from running back, slot wide out, return man, corner. and special duties, Ervin proved to collect records from each way he could. Ervin was San José State’s career record holder for all-purpose yardage (6,146) and showing great skills as a return man with 2,374 all-time return yardage. It seems like Ervin was an all-around player while in college and even collected 2,803 rushing yards in his career making him the school’s second all-time rushing leader. He is also a skilled barber if that counts for anything.
If you can’t perform more than one job in the NFL than you’re not going to last very long. Ervin brings a rare combination of enough athleticism to play everywhere on the offensive side of the ball. Going into the combine, he was one of the few prospects discussed to break Chris Johnson’s 40-yard dash record. He has elite breakaway speed (4.41 40-yard dash) and could be a menace in open-space when asked to match-up with slower linebackers. Unlike many other smaller back, Ervin doesn’t have an issue with running in between the tackles and proved his toughness when he was asked to gain tough yardage against Fresno State in 2015. Has a great blend of hand-eye coordination and moves his feet well when stuck in traffic. May be best fitted for a zone-blocking scheme.
Brings a lot of special team value from a returner aspect and as a gunner on punt coverage. Understands when to change gears when hitting through tight holes. Ervin’s field awareness is great especially when he is put to the task of avoiding defenders. Offensive coordinators will love his ability to win out of the slot and become a match-up nightmare when followed by bigger safeties and linebackers. Could honestly make the transition to slot receiver full-time.
At 5’10 192lbs, Ervin doesn’t have prototypical size to play running back in the league. His body type fits better for a receiver than running back. Isn’t going to be your full-time back that can pound out 100-yard games throughout the season. At best, he may be a secondary option that excels with excellent placement. Getting him into space may be the team’s best issue with Ervin. He has good vision downfield but is a little too excited when staying behind his blockers. Pushes the issue too much when he doesn’t have to. Always looking for the long yardage run when he can’t get through the first four to five yards.
Ervin’s blocking skills may be questioned a lot during his evaluation specifically after being bullied by linebackers during the senior bowl. Though he is a fierce competitor, he isn’t going to be much help in play-action due to his inability to push through defenders.
Draft Projection: 4th – mid 5th round