TJ Yeldon   RB   Alabama

TALENT BOARD ROUND 3

STRENGTHS
TJ is one of the many talented and athletic running backs in this draft. He has excellent lateral agility and quickness to make his own yards. He never seems to take big hits and will give a good effort blocking blitzing linebackers. TJ can catch the ball down the field as well as most receivers in this draft. He gains the corner with ease and his style of running reminds me a lot of former Los Angeles Rams Eric Dickerson. (That’s right, Los Angeles Rams. Look it up; I can’t do everything for you.) TJ’s lateral agility sets him apart from many of the other backs in this draft. He has very quick feet and good balance and when you can get him to follow his blocks between the tackles, he is as good as any running back in this draft. I believe on third downs you can use TJ as a slot receiver and, if you move him around your offense, you just might have an impact player. I would not count him as your feature back who carries the load because the more TJ gets hit, he will bounce the running play outside and the defense will start to anticipate that move and minimize his effectiveness.

CONCERNS
TJ runs high and is not fond of running between the tackles. He will drive offensive coordinators crazy trying to use “between the tackle runs” to set up other plays in the offensive game plan because TJ loves to bounce the ball to the outside on just about every carry. Also TJ lacks the bulk to be the type of running back who will be a featured running back.

BOTTOM LINE
For the younger members of THR we go back to this time frame: TJ reminds me of Packers James Stark as well as Eric Dickerson. And, unless he has a coach that is willing to set up and run plays around TJ talents to run the ball outside like the Rams did for Eric Dickerson, TJ will not have the impact on the league that Eric had in his day. Eric would not run the ball inside so his coaches decide to use sweeps and toss sweeps outside the tackles mixed with pulling guards, blocking tight ends and fullbacks that would seal the edges so that Eric could use his size and speed against smaller defensive backs the second he got past the line of scrimmage. Most teams back then were 4-3 defenses and linebackers were not as fast as they are today so with all the blocking in front of him on the edges, Eric was a 6’3” 215 Lbs high stepping nightmare, coming at smaller defensive backs all day long. Now back to the future: the teams in this day and age have more speed and use 3-4 defenses and you just can’t seal the edges any more with the consistency that happened years ago or even with the consistency that TJ’s college team is able to do at the college level. That means TJ has to be moved all over the offense to take advantage of his agility and ability to make his own yards. TJ has lined up in the pistol offense that prides itself on running the ball downhill or between the tackle and he will still bounce the play to the edges or to the outside. Flash in front of him in the hole and he bounces like a rabbit dodging back and forth trying to find the best way to make a yard. If you can get TJ to take it to the assigned hole and understand that the purpose of some running plays is to set up other plays, he could become an impact player. Otherwise he is just a back you put into the game to rest your featured back and although he will break a play or two and excite the crowd, he is the type of back that defenses will know that he will bounce the play outside and that knowledge will make him easy to defend. Nevertheless TJ could be an impact player if a team is willing to use him sparingly and all over the offense. But he’s not a feature back because it’s not likely that he will ever overcome his tendency to bounce plays to the outside and driving his own offensive coordinators crazy.

Drew Boylhart
MAR/2015