Scouting Report: Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Today’s prospect, Auburn’s Tre Mason, is easy to like no matter how you look at him. He’s good on film against SEC competition. He’s good on the stat sheet and he performed well at the combine. He reminds us a bit of DeAngelo Williams, but he doesn’t have the mileage concerns that Williams had coming out of college. Mason only amassed 516 carries at Auburn, while DeAngelo fell just short of one thousand at Memphis.
Yes, Tre Mason is a very good prospect no matter how you slice it. He’ll be a typical location back as far as fantasy value is concerned. If he goes to the right place, he could have immediate value, but if he lands in the wrong place, he could remind us of DeAngelo Williams as a pro too, because he’d be stuck in committee.
So what do we like about Tre?
- Nose for the goal - Mason is a natural goal line back. He’s elusive in tight space and he runs with good pad level on inside runs. He’ll make that one cut or find a small crease when you need him to.
- Quickness - Mason is dangerous in confined space and that is one of the most important things we look for in an NFL back. Mason has a quick first step and can accelerate, but he can also stop on a dime and has excellent lateral agility.
- Vision - His short area burst and excellent agility make him very dangerous because of his vision. Mason sees the field very well and his peripheral vision is also very good. He sees cutback lanes well and runs to daylight.
- Explosiveness - Mason had elite scores in both the vertical (38.5) and broad (126.0) jumps. That's a solid indicator of initial burst and explosion and Tre's game tape backs these numbers up.
- Patience - This is a strength for Tre and it plays well with his other strengths. Though Mason is a gifted runner, he’s also a calm runner and he trusts the play most of the time. This is one of the reasons he gets to the second level so often. Once he gets there, his ability to make decisive cuts allows him to wait a little longer than some backs ... allowing him to use his vision.
- Speed - Mason’s speed at the combine was about what we expected, and we think he’s more than fast enough with the pads on. He’s got the speed required to be a successful NFL tailback.
- Cuts - Mason makes decisive and sudden cuts that are, at times, subtle, but are enough to take advantage of a charging defender. Tre has the ability to use a defender’s momentum against him, and sets up would-be tacklers well. He changes lanes effortlessly in the open field and in traffic.
- Balance - Mason runs with a good forward lean and a wide base and that makes him tough to knock off his feet. It also gives him enhanced cutting ability, which is evident on tape. Tre presses the hole effectively and uses the wide base to bounce outside with outstanding quickness. He also employs a good stiff arm when needed. His upper body strength and stable base make this a very effective tactic.
- Pad level - As I mentioned, Mason runs with a nice forward lean and he maintains good pad level when running inside. This is important since he's a medium-sized tailback.
Here’s a look at Mason's 46 carry effort versus Missouri in the SEC Championship.
Here's a highlight reel from Mason's senior season.
Here's a look at Mason's final collegiate game versus FSU in the BCS Championship.
If you watched all of that film, you probably agree that Mason is a tailback who merits plenty of fantasy consideration.
Do we have any concerns? Yes, there are some unknowns with Mason as there are with most college backs. The big one is always pass protection and though Mason shows solid effort in this area, he’s a bit of a work in progress. Mason’s big enough and quick enough to get the job done at the NFL level, but he could be an adventure in pass protection as a rookie ... as many rookies are. This is something we'll be keeping tabs on in August.
Another area where Mason may need some development is as a receiver. He just wasn’t used much in the passing game at Auburn. That said, he looked reasonably good when given the chance. This may be more of an unknown than a weakness.
In the end, we see Mason being taken in the second or third round by a team looking for a lead back. So how do we value Mason for dynasty, long term and redraft formats? He’s going to be recommended in dynasty without question and he could be ranked highly if he lands on a team with a sparse depth chart and a decent offense. In redraft formats, the bar will be a bit higher because Mason will have to clear a few hurdles to earn major playing time. As I said, we’ll have our ears to the ground in August to follow his progress.
As always, we’ll be updating this rookie again once he’s been drafted, and the place he lands in will have a whole lot to do with his value. He's another location back.
I’ll be back with more tomorrow with another player, and we’ll be posting another podcast with my partner in crime Jim “Hacksaw” Hackett.
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