The Senior Bowl is an annual college all star game that features college seniors (and lately some juniors) that have dreams of making the NFL. The 2016 installment of the game saw 87 players that would go on to be drafted in April. The Jaguars have a number of needs -- for this post we will stick with running back following a season for the Jaguars that saw the running game struggle through out.
Kareem Hunt. Senior. Toledo
A 21 year old running back from a non power five school, Hunt is primed to be drafted early on the final day of the draft this year. Had Hunt been playing his college ball at a power five school there is good change he would have more consideration to be a day one or two pick, which he still could be if a team falls in love with him. His combination of size (6'1'' tall and 225 lbs.) and speed (He's expected to run in the 4.5 second 40 yard dash range) is hard to find. Combine that with his willingness to block and his ability to make defenders miss and you have a rather impressive prospect who could make an impact in the NFL sooner rather than later. His 44 rushing TDs and 6.3 yards per carry on his career can't be overlooked -- even if he wasn't playing in the power 5. However, at Toledo he almost exclusively ran the ball out of the shotgun, so adjusting to a more traditional style of running may be difficult. Hunt also doesn't regularly show the ability to break off big plays. Overall he's a solid running back that will likely make whoever drafts him very happy that they did.
COREY CLEMENT. Senior. Wisconsin
Corey Clement, the heir apparent to 2015 1st round pick Melvin Gordon, had a fine college career that was topped off by an impressive senior season that saw Clement run the ball 314 times for 1,375 yards and and 15 rushing TDs. His 4.4 yards per carry in 2016 isn't overly impressive, especially considering his predecessor's career average of 7.8 yards per carry. Clement stands 5'10'' and weighs in a nearly 230 lbs. He doesn't appear to be particularly elusive and lacks the ideal power you would expect from such a stocky back. While Clement could be a productive back in the NFL if he finds the right system, he will never be a true difference maker. In a draft loaded with talent at the running back position, it's very difficult to imagine him being taken before Day 3 of the draft. In my estimation he'll likely go in the 5th or 6th round.
Jamaal Williams. Senior. Brigham Young
Williams is far from a house hold name, but that could change once he finds his way to the NFL. His 6 foot 220 lb. frame is built for the long haul and his 726 career carries in college for over 3,900 yards are equally as impressive. His ability to make the first defender miss with elusiveness can't be overlooked nor can his furious stiff arms. He seems to have above average vision and good short area burst, both of which are vital to succeed at the NFL level. While he didn't always play the stiffest of competition in college Williams did make the most of the opportunities he had -- especially in the final game of his college career where he racked up 210 yards rushing in a win versus Wyoming. The major knock on Williams will be his top end speed. He isn't expected to run very well in the 40 yard dash and could end up in the 4.6 range. There is no telling where Williams will land in the draft but with the extreme depth at the running back position in this years class it's very possible that Williams won't come off the board until the final day of the draft.
Donnel Pumphrey. Senior. San Diego State
Following a rule change that includes college bowl games in career stats, Donnel Pumphrey became the all time leader in career rushing yards in FBS history. Of course, if you go back before the rule change there are other guys who rushed for more yards than did Pumphrey, but we're not here to debate college statistical rules are we? No, what we are here to do is take a look at Pumphrey as an NFL prospect. It's hard not to get excited when you talk about a kid who racked up over 6,400 yards and 67 TDs to go along with a career average of 6 yards per cary. Oh, and did I mention he can run a 4.3 second 40 yard dash? Yeah, all that sounds great but then you get to the elephant in the room -- his size. Pumphrey is only 180 lbs. Any running back who doesn't eclipse the 200 lb. mark gets a major red flag put next to their name, but "Pump" has a shot to be the type of player that can have an impact on special teams (although he didn't do kick returns or punt returns in college) in certain situations. Some will compare him to Darren Sproles due to his diminutive stature, but "Pump" is 3 inches taller and at least 10 lbs. lighter which doesn't bode well for him. He almost certainly will never be a feature back and will likely never even become one part of a two headed monster, but he is an electric player that will likely be drafted by someone.
De'Veon Smith. Senior. Michigan
Smith isn't one of the more productive runners in college football, but possesses several traits that will make him attractive to NFL scouts. He weighs in at 228 lbs. and stands just a shade under 6 feet. That stocky frame combined with some average to above average speed (he's expected to run in the 4.4 to 4.6 second range) will get scouts excited. He doesn't always play consistently and the fact that he wasn't truly a feature back for the Wolverines will give pause. He shows flashes of extraordinary ability, but doesn't regularly maintain that same high level of play. Smith could go in any round on the last day of the draft and will no doubt bring a physical running style to whichever NFL backfield he ends up in.
It is my opinion that the Jaguars should be eyeing a running back in the first or second round (Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, D'Onta Foreman, Christian McCaffery, and Alvin Kamara all would be suitable) which would likely eliminate all of the running backs we just covered, but if the Jaguars aren't as hasty in selecting a running back this year then one of these men could very well end up being a Jaguar. I believe Jamaal Williams and Kareem Hunt have the best chances of becoming starters in the NFL from this Senior Bowl Group.
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