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Scouting Report: Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State

Scouting Report: Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State

A complete back
By: Pete Davidson : May 05, 2014 10:36am

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Yesterday, when I reviewed Ka’Deem Carey, we talked a lot about speed versus quickness. Today we meet another case study of the same variety in Devonta Freeman, who I think is one of the more under-appreciated backs in this class. He gets some pub here and there but I think Devonta gets lost in the shuffle of a deep draft class and some of his more high-profile teammates at FSU.

Freeman is leaving after his junior year and he was a productive back all three years at Florida State. Freeman has a varied skill set and we don’t see a whole lot of weaknesses in his game save for straight line speed, and it’s not like he’s slow. He’s just not a burner like some of the other backs out there.

Freeman was a full participant at this year’s Combine. Here’s a quick look at his data, but go to Draft Breakdown if you want a more effective comparison to his 2014 classmates.

  • Height - 5’8”
  • Weight - 206
  • Hands - 9 5/8”
  • 40 - 4.58
  • Vertical Jump - 31.5”
  • Broad Jump - 118”
  • 3- Cone Drill - 7.11
  • 20 YD Shuttle - 4.26

There’s really nothing positive there though there’s nothing all that bad either. In short, Devonta doesn’t test all that well. However, as with Carey yesterday, the game tape tells a much different story as you will see in a few minutes.

Things we like about Freeman.

  • Build - Freeman has some size though he’s not a big back. He does tend to play bigger than his weight and that certainly has something to do with his compact build and low center of gravity. I’m thinking of calling him MJD Light.
  • Quickness - Watch the tape and you will see quick feet that continue to move and adjust during contact. He’ll make you miss too.
  • Cutting ability - Freeman makes good open field cuts and he can make you miss in confined areas too.  His moves are sudden.
  • Vision - Freeman uses his blocks well and he sees the creases and cutback lanes.
  • Pad level - Freeman runs with good pad level and keeps his legs moving through contact.   Throw in a good stiff arm and a nice spin move and Freeman's pretty tough to bring down.
  • Receiving skills - He runs good routes and catches the ball well. He shows good body control and reacts well to poorly thrown balls. He’s got good hips and gets upfield quickly after the catch.
  • Pass protection - Freeman holds up nicely in pass protection and shows good effort on a consistent basis. He is one of the better backs I’ve seen in this class. This is big because we’ve seen how much a weakness in this area can hurt a rookie. 
  • Blocking - Freeman can protect but he can also lay down a block, and that is a skill a lot of teams want out of their skill players these days. This kid would be a great fit for the Patriots.
  • Production - He produced well as the lead back in a committee backfield.

Here’s a look at Freeman last season versus NC State. Notice the quickness on his first score.

Here’s Devonta in the BCS National Championship versus Auburn. It’s a good sign when a player shows up in big games.

This is a player with few weaknesses outside of the aforementioned speed and size limitations. And, the thing is, he plays big and looks plenty fast on film as you just saw. We grade Freeman out as one of the more game-ready backs in this year’s class.  This is because of his ability to do everything you need on all downs, with the possible exception of short yardage and goal line. He could give up some things to a bigger back in a committee situation. For those enamored with backs like Gio Bernard or Shane Vereen, Devonta might be the back for you this year.

There is one note of caution that I want to pass on. Freeman has had issues with a back injury in the past. He certainly looked to be over it last season, but it has cost him preseason practice time in the past.  If he slips a lot in the draft, that could be a red flag on the back situation.  We'll find out in a few days.

As for fantasy value, we see great potential. Freeman should be one of the backs in demand for dynasty leaguers and he has a chance at redraft value if he lands on a depth chart that presents some immediate opportunity.

We’ll know more in a few days and we’ll update Freeman’s value in our post-draft rookie rankings.

 

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