Joe McKnight  RB  USC 

TALENT BOARD

 Round 5


 

STRENGTHS

Joe has excellent athletic talent.  He is a bit of a long striding running back who shows good hands, vision, cutting ability in the hole.  He has the speed to turn the corner on a sweep or bounce to the outside to gain the need yardage for his team.  Joe is the definition of a scat back or a finesse back.  He has the talent to be moved around your offense to keep the defense thinking and causing all sorts of match-up problems.  Joe can also be a weapon on special teams in the return game.  He covers a lot of ground very quickly and this, along with his natural athletic skills, could help him to become a nightmare for his opponents at the next level. 

 

NEEDS TO IMPROVE

Joe doesn't like the physical part of the game of football.  He fumbles, he bounces a lot of plays to the outside and in general seems to struggle with injuries and staying on the field for any length of time.  Joe also hasn't improved since the first time I saw him play for USC.  His football intelligence has not grown.  Joe's natural abilities have allowed him to play at the college level, but I have to question Joe's work ethic to get better mentally in the little things that make a back a true franchise back who has the natural athletic skills that Joe has.  In short, his productivity is not equal to his athletic talents.    

 

BOTTOM LINE

In spite of Joe's talents he was not considered the feature back for his college team.  Joe can run inside the tackles like a dream, but he prefers not to.  He makes quick natural cuts in the hole because he has excellent lateral agility and vision, but seems to shy away from consistently bringing it through the tackles all game long.  His coaches were smart about that and would call plays in the beginning of a game that would run Joe through the tackles to soften the defense.  However, when the game was on the line, Joe was off the field or running screens and sweeps because of the possibility of fumbling.  The closer Joe was to the sideline, the less chance he would fumble or the better chance a  fumble would go out of bounds.  Joe struggles with getting hit.  It's just that simple.  Because of this, he lacks consistency in the running game, fumbles in the open field and is a liability on special teams.  All that being said, he has natural talent and skills unlike most others in this draft and if he can ever control his fears there is no reason why he can't become an important part of a teams offensive game plan.  The truth is that Joe has talents similar (if not better) than Reggie Bush (RB New Orleans Saints).  In fact he is a more natural "run through the tackles" skills than Reggie.  Joe has never bothered to learn to block and lacks the personal aggressiveness to want to be the best player on the field.  He can't be used as a slot receiver because that position requires a player who can handle the mental and physical pounding.  All of this could change if Joe is drafted lower than he thinks he should be drafted and starts to play with a chip on his shoulder.  My advice is draft Joe in the lower rounds of the draft and make him earn his way onto the field.  Some team could get lucky if they draft Joe because he does have the talent to play, but right now lacks the heart.    

 

Drew Boylhart  3/10