2019 NFL Draft: Tony Brooks-James has versatility NFL teams look for

Oregon RB Tony Brooks-James may be small in stature, but his well rounded impact will be what an NFL team looks for when considering him in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Position:  RB

School: Oregon

Year: Senior

Height: 5’9″

Weight: 190 lbs

Who is Tony Brooks-James? He’s your classic Oregon Ducks football player. He’s a classic speedster, but his speed isn’t the only way he contributed to his team while at Oregon.

Strengths:

  • Speed

Tony Brooks-James was a track star during his time with the Oregon Ducks. He wasn’t just any track star, he was a track star who ran sprints. What does that mean? That means he fast.

One trait NFL teams will love about Brooks-James is his speed. Every football team in the NFL is looking for a guy with speed. How many times have we seen an NFL prospect boost their draft stock because of how fast they can run?

Brooks-James isn’t the most complete RB in this draft class, but his speed will get the attention of several teams. With speed, comes big plays. If he is allowed to get into the second level and get open space, there’s a good chance he’s taking the ball into the end zone.

  • Stop-start ability

As is often the case with smaller backs, Brooks-James has an incredible ability to stop and start. Even when he’s running full speed, Brooks-James can make pursuing defenders miss with his ability to stop so quickly.

As a smaller back, Brooks-James will have to rely on his stop-start ability to make plays in the NFL. He’s not the type of RB who relies on running people over. Rather, he’s the type of RB who can run around defenders.

  • Contact Balance

Although Brooks-James isn’t a big bruising RB who will run over defenders on a consistent basis, he’s got very good contact balance. When a defender hits him, a lot of times he’s able to stay up with some sort of quick move.

I wouldn’t necessarily say Brooks-James has the ability to break tackles, but he does have the ability to get out of tackles if he’s not wrapped up. Because he’s so good at staying on his feet, he’s able to pick up a lot of extra yards.

  • Versatility

If you look at the stats for Brooks-James during his college career, there won’t be anything that really shocks you. He doesn’t put up insane numbers as a rusher or a receiver. However, Brooks-James can contribute a little here and little there.

Throughout his time with the Oregon Ducks, Brooks-James totaled 3,302 all-purpose yards. Brooks-James can be an effective runner, but he’s more of a change of pace guy. He’s not going to be the workhorse RB. Despite that, he can still contribute all over the field.

Brooks-James totaled 1,863 rushing yards, 392 receiving yards and 1047 return yards during his four years with Oregon. Again, none of his numbers will wow you, but he’s proven he can find multiple ways to contribute.

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of size

One thing that hurts Brooks-James is his small frame. Standing at just 5’9″ and weighing about 190 lbs, he doesn’t have the typical NFL size teams are looking for. This is really only a weakness if a team is looking for a workhorse RB. Brooks-James will never be that guy, but he’ll still be a valuable addition to an NFL roster.

  • Not a between-the-tackles runner

One might think Brooks-James would be an effective runner between the tackles because of his small frame. This should allow him to slip past defenders, right? Well, while he can occasionally run inside, he doesn’t have the physicality to be a high use inside runner.

Brooks-James is at his best when he’s running outside. This allows him to use his quickness and speed to run past defenders instead of having to try and run through them.

  • Doesn’t fight for extra yards

Brooks-James shouldn’t be relied on as a guy who can fight for extra yards by running through defenders. He can get extra yards because of his great balance, but he doesn’t necessarily fight for them.

The bigger backs in the NFL are guys who frequently run inside the tackles because they’ve got the power to run through defenders. Brooks-James won’t run over people. He actually tends to go down on his own terms rather than trying to get a few extra yards when a defender makes contact.

  • Pass protection

If I were an NFL team, I wouldn’t put Brooks-James in as a pass protector. His small frame doesn’t allow him to block bigger pass rushers. It’s likely he’ll get pushed around, right back into his QB in pass protection situations. He’s more likely to help the pocket collapse than keep it clean.

Pro Comparison: Darren Sproles

Despite being three inches taller, Brooks-James reminds me a lot of long time NFL RB Darren Sproles. When I say he reminds of Darren Sproles, I’m referring mostly to the early NFL career Darren Sproles.

Sproles has never been the RB who’s going to put up crazy rushing numbers. His career high in rushing yards for a season is 603. He has a total of 3,486 rushing yards since entering the league in 2005.

However, Sproles has never needed to be the guy who runs wild to make an impact. In addition to his 3,486 career rushing yards, Sproles has 4,816 receiving yards in his career. In addition to this numbers, Sproles has a total of 8,352 kick return and 2,875 punt return yards in his career. Sproles actually had a five year streak of having 1,000 or more kick return yards.

Sproles’ ability to contribute in so many different ways is why he reminds me of Brooks-James. Brooks-James will never be a guy with a high number of rushing yards, but he can put up well rounded numbers in several different areas.

Best Team Fit: New England Patriots

I’m not sure how good of a chance Brooks-James has to end up with the defending Super Bowl champs. They’ve already got RBs Rex Burkhead and James White, both who can contribute in similar ways to how Brooks-James should be able to in the NFL.

Next: 2019 NFL Mock Draft update

Despite the Patriots already having those guys, I just feel like Brooks-James’ talents would be best utilized by a team who does what they do.

Projection: 6th round pick

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