Scouting Report: Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona

Scouting Report: Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona

Serious production across the board
By: Pete Davidson : May 04, 2014 4:51pm

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Ka’Deem Carey is a back who deserves some extra attention. I say this because he seems to be getting summarily dismissed after his weak Combine performance. In fairness, it really was a weak showing for a back who a lot of pundits were touting as the best in this year’s class going into Indianapolis.

Let’s start with Ka’Deem’s second half of his final season at Arizona. Over his last six games, Carey carried the ball 193 times and that includes a 48 carry game against Oregon. So, we have a back who carried the ball an astonishing amount of times who then ran a surprisingly low time at the Combine. Could these two things be connected? They probably are. It doesn’t end there. Carey carried the ball 652 times over his last two seasons and he amassed an impressive 3,814 yards. That’s some heavy mileage, folks. He also caught 62 passes over the same period.

Now, who thinks Carey will continue to be used this way early on in his career? Nobody, right? Right, so, like most of the backs in this class, Carey is likely to be a backup early on in his career. That begs the following question. How much better might he look after a year or two of lighter usage?

My take is that Carey, fully rested and healthy, is not a 4.70 back. No way. I also think we need to remember that good tape usually trumps bad data. And, Carey has very good tape as you will see. The thing with forty times and such is that they are snapshots in time and they have very little nuance once they are presented.  If a guy slips a bit on his forty and runs a slow time, how often do you hear about the slip? We pointed this out last year with Andre Ellington. His forty was basically bogus and we said so. Numbers can lie and they can tell big lies without proper context. Let’s see how much context we bring to the Carey discussion.

Let’s take a look at Carey’s Combine data.

  • Height - 5’9”
  • Weight - 207
  • Hands - 9.5”
  • 40 - 4.70
  • Bench - 19
  • Vertical Jump - 32.5”
  • Broad Jump - 115”
  • 3-Cone Drill - 7.08
  • 20 YD Shuttle - 4.38

There’s not much there to hang your hat on. The 3-Cone’s respectable and he flashed some strength on the bench, but Ka’Deem definitely had a rough weekend. Then again, he was one of the most colorful players in the media room.

When asked about the devaluing of the running back position, Carey said this.  "I don't like that. I feel like they think the running back spot is going extinct for some reason. They definitely need us. I'm definitely going to make sure they know that when I step on the field ... that they made a good pick and running backs aren't going extinct."  He went on to say that he “definitely would have went to corner or something”  if he’d known that running backs would be so devalued when he started out. It’s a telling line, because he meant it. This could be a bit of a canary in the coal mine as far as backs are concerned. Will players who have a choice between RB and CB continue to choose offense? I think it’s reasonable to conclude that more will choose defense if things stay on the current trajectory.

Things we like about Ka’Deem.

  • Feet - Ka’Deem has light, quick feet and he is constantly adjusting before, during and after contact. This is one of the reasons he is so good after contact at just 207 pounds.
  • Vision and feel - Carey sees the field very well and makes good instinctive choices as a ball carrier. He uses his blocks well and knows when to freelance and when to take what’s there. He’s effective in short yardage situations because of this.
  • Cutting - Carey makes quality, and often subtle cuts, and can make multiple cuts as well. He’s not just a one-cut runner. Ka’Deem also has an excellent cut-fake which he uses to shake up the defense. He will give a subtle lean or a quick shake before bouncing it in the other direction. He runs with a wide base, and that gives him the ability to make sudden cuts in tight space.
  • Tactics - We like the way Carey defends his frame, particularly in traffic.  He's got a nice spin move and a very good stiff arm and that makes him hard to get a handle on. At times, he looks like a smaller version of Marshawn Lynch.
  • Goal line ability - Not only did he score a metric ton of touchdowns, but Carey is a very good back at the stripe in terms of his skill set. He can make the first guy miss and he’s decisive. He finds the crease well and hits the hole with gusto.
  • Receiving skills - Carey has good ability here and he credits HC Rich Rodriguez, who took over in 2012, the same season that Ka’Deem broke out, for helping him improve as a receiver. Carey certainly has some PPR appeal.  He gets open, catches the ball well with his hands and he's got good hips to adjust on swing routes and such.  
  • Pass protection - This an area where I was pleasantly surprised with Carey's effort and ability.  His quickness and competitiveness really help him here and he's got enough size to hold up at the next level.  He could get work on 3rd downs as a rookie and he has 3-down potential in the right situation, when you consider his ability as a receiver and in pass protection.
  • Production - You can’t talk about Carey without tipping a cap to what he’s done the last two seasons. He’s been the most productive runner in college football and that’s no accident.  It's also not like teams didn't know who was getting the ball.

Here’s a game to watch for sure when it comes to Carey. The way he is running at the end is very impressive when you consider the absurd workload he was given. He’s obviously tired, but he’s still running hard and making plays. There are nine other games available at Draft Breakdown if you want to do more game tape.

Here’s a look at Carey’s highlight reel, which is pretty impressive itself.

As I said, Carey’s forty time is somewhat misleading. While Carey is not a fast back, he is not slow as molasses either. He wins with vision, relentlessness and lateral ability versus pure speed. He has enough functional speed to do what needs to be done, but he is not a breakaway threat like some other backs. He compares well to a back like Curtis Martin though he’ll be very lucky to get anywhere near the kind of carry volume that Martin had in his day.

It would be irresponsible of me to not mention Carey’s off-field issues. He was involved in a domestic dispute though the charges were eventually dropped. Writing that incident off is made more difficult in light of another incident at a Arizona basketball game.  The NFL will obviously pull both incidents apart and they’ll give us some insight just based on where Carey gets taken. There’s reason for concern here, but both incidents are relatively minor by themselves.

In wrapping things up, I’d advise dynasty leaguers to take Carey seriously. He’s got as much upside as most of the backs in this year’s class with a few exceptions like Carlos Hyde and Lache Seastrunk. He’s a location back, like most of the class, in that his value is heavily tied to which team selects him. We’ll put a finer point on his value once he has a home.


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