Scouting Report: Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
UCLA’s top back is not exactly an under-the-radar prospect, but he is not getting the kind of respect we think he should. He has picked up some steam since the combine, where he performed well and there’s now talk of him being taken in round two, which is where we think he belongs.
The recurring knock we hear about Franklin is that he’s not an every down back--that he is more of a 3rd down back. We’re not sure why people draw that conclusion. Franklin has the good size at 205 pounds and he has long speed to be a threat every time he touches the ball. We think he could easily be a lead back in a committee backfield the way Frank Gore is in San Francisco. Not to say that he could not be a 3rd down back for a team that already has an established starter. Franklin could thrive in that role for a team like Washington or Atlanta.
Things we like about Franklin....
- Size/speed combo. At 5’ 10” 205 pounds, he runs in the 4.4s, posting a solid 4.49 at the combine. He does not need to add weight.
- Versatility. He could thrive in most offenses at the next level.
- Hands and hips. He is a very smooth receiver out of the backfield despite having average stats as a receiver.
- Balance. Franklin runs in-control, behind his pads with good balance.
- Vision. Franklin makes a lot of good decisions as a runner and once he makes his choice, he hits the crease with vigor and burst.
- Character. Franklin’s college coach.
Are there any legitimate knocks on Franklin? Sure. He wasn’t asked to block all that much and the results were mixed when they did. That said, most backs need to bone-up on their protections when they get to the pros. There’s no reason that Franklin can’t improve in this area. The other knock is a bit more troubling because it will kill your career at the next level and that issue is ball security. Franklin has fumbled a bit more than we’d like though he’s doesn’t carry the ball too far away from his body, he does use a single arm too often when in traffic. This can be easily rectified, and it should be.
The bottom line for Rotobahn readers is this. If Franklin lands with the right team, he could be a very valuable fantasy option right out of the box or he could be a strong handcuff option. We’ll be all over it this summer. In dynasty leagues, Franklin is definitely a player to own in the earlier rounds if not the first rounds. Again, we’ll be updating that after the draft.
I’ll be back tomorrow with another underrated talent. Until then, why don’t you take a gander at Johnathan Franklin.