Drew Boylhart February 2008
Rashard Mendenhall   RB   Illinois
Rashard is a fast, powerful RB with excellent size and mental strength to be a hell of a back at the next level.  He shows good hands out of the backfield and does a decent job blocking for the blitz.  Rashard really likes contact and is the type of back than runs with what I call ďgood fearĒ.  That is the fear of getting tackled and not the fear of getting hit.  Rashard is also what I call a systems RB.  The style of offensive system he will impact in very quickly is an O-line zone blocking scheme.  He is a one-cut and go RB who sees one thing in front of him when he runs.  That one thing is the end zone.  Rashard has the speed to take it to the house every time he touches the ball from anywhere on the field.  
Rashard is not a cut in the hole with vision style of RB.  He has the talent, but his brain is not wired that way.  He does not set up blocks.  He just takes the ball and runs, but with power and quickness.  This is fine as long as the team that drafts him understands this.  I donít care what his talent suggest that he can do, his brain will not allow it.  He is what he is, a one system RB that can impact right away in the right system.   
When I was first looking at Rashard on film, my first impression was that he was being overrated!  Then I realized I was being prejudiced.  I realized that because I feel that Rashard is a one system RB, I was downgrading him mentally and not looking at his talent as a football player first.  I wasnít analyzing him; I was voicing an opinion about his style of play.  Donít get me wrong, I still feel that Rashardís best fit at the next level is in a zone blocking scheme and that does limit him to the teams that should draft him; however, because of his physical talents, Rashard should impact in that style of offense the day after you draft him.   He is very quick to the hole and he shows quick feet and good balance and looks to have decent vision.  What I donít see is patience to set up his blocks, cutting laterally to break a tackle or avoid a full hit.  He is big and strong, but his style lends itself at the next level to a style that does not avoid injuries and the zone blocking scheme is also brutal on the length of a RBís career.  Add those two together and you have a very talented back that might not have a very long career at the next level.  Then again whoís to say he wonít?!  The truth is, these profiles represent my personal opinion and although Iím do profiles and interject my thoughts, I think in this case because of his size, strength, speed, quickness, athletic talents and what looks like good football intelligence, I have to be a little more lenient with my profile because Rashard has the talent to be more than a zone blocking scheme RB.  I just havenít seen it on film.  It looks to me like Rashardís brain is just is not wired to be anything other than a zone blocking RB?  By that, I mean he takes the ball and looks for a little daylight and then it is straight to the end zone and if something (or someone) is in his way, he just hits until itís out of his way.  He has the talent to make a cut and not take a full hit, but he doesnít use that talent right now.  Maybe in the future after some injuries he will, but right now he doesnít.  Rashard is a TD making machine from anywhere on the field.  I hope Iím wrong about the length of his career and the possible injuries because this kid has the talent to be one of the better RBís in the NFL.