Scouting Report: Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford

Scouting Report: Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford

A sleeper that's still getting better
By: Pete Davidson : March 09, 2014 10:31am

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Tyler Gaffney is the latest tailback out of Stanford and he’s a two sport star, playing both football and baseball.  In addition to being a very good all-around athlete, Gaffney is blessed with size, agility and speed. He was incredibly productive as a senior tailback in 2013 after missing the 2012 season while playing minor league baseball in the Pirates organization.  Gaffney proved that he can carry the full load when needed. As starting tailback in 2013 he had three games with thirty or more carries.  Not bad.  The big back is a little under-the-radar, most likely because he’s a bit of a straight line runner on film, and because he missed all of 2012 by choice.

When asked what he is telling teams in the interview process, Gaffney was blunt. “I tell them I am a mentally tough dude. I think my ceiling is a lot higher than most because I am new to football. This was my first year playing a full season.” That’s certainly something to keep in mind with this player. In fact, Gaffney was a defensive player until he got to college.  Those who may question Gaffney’s commitment to football can rest easy. He returned half of his signing bonus to return to Stanford. “I realized I really missed football,” said Gaffney.

Gaffney’s Combine numbers were impressive for a big back.

  • Height - 5’11”
  • Weight - 220
  • 40 - 4.49
  • Vertical - 36.5”
  • Broad - 116” (9.7 ft)
  • 3-Cone - 6.78 (2nd)
  • 20 yd Shuttle - 4.18
  • 60 yd shuttle - 11.36 (1st)

The agility numbers definitely opened some eyes as did the sub 4.50 time in the forty. Count Gaffney among those who were not surprised. “I am faster than you think. I have been told that I have been caught from behind, and I am here (at the combine) to show that that is not the case. Speed is something I have been focusing on.”  This is a player who already scored high marks for productivity and toughness. You have to wonder how much better Gaffney can get if he continues to dedicate all his time to football.

Here are some of things we like about Gaffney.

  • Size - He’s a big back at 220 pounds and he runs like a big back when you want him to.
  • Speed - Big tailbacks who can run 4.49 are pretty rare.
  • Yards after contact - Gaffney runs through contact well, and keeps his feet moving.
  • Agility - Though you don’t always see it on film, Gaffney has quick feet for a big guy and it showed in his agility drills at the combine.
  • Vision - I’m sure a few people are rolling their eyes on this one, but hear me out. Great vision is often a thing attributed to home-run-hitting backs and for good reason, but if you watch Gaffney enough, you’ll be impressed with his decision-making. He follows the play as it's designed. Gaffney chooses the right holes and makes the right cuts at the right times. That’s vision.
  • Toughness - Watch the game against Oregon if you have any doubts. He toted the rock 45 times and was still functional at the end. He never shies away from contact and finishes his runs well.
  • Goal line ability - He scored 33 times as a Cardinal with 21 in 2013 and most of them were of the hard-nosed variety. He has excellent potential at the stripe as a pro.
  • Productivity - We never recommend players based on their college stats, but it’s certainly nice when the stats match up with the play on tape. They certainly do in Gaffney's case.
  • Competitiveness - When you are good enough to play two professional sports, you obviously know how to compete. This kid always answers the bell.

Let's take a look at Gaffney in action.  We'll start with a highlight reel.

Here’s Gaffney scoring versus Oregon State. Watch his feet continue to move through contact.

From the same game. Again, keeps going after initial contact.

Gaffney’s got a lot going for him and we like his chances of being a good pro. The key for the Stanford product, as I say with many rookies, will be location. He needs the right team (system) and he could use a depth chart that needs a power back. If he catches a break in this regard, he’s a player that could produce some desirable fantasy stats.

Gaffney does have a few areas of concern. We lack sufficient tape to give you a real bead on his ability as a receiver. Gaffney is a bit stiff in the hips, and that could hurt his receiving ability some. That being said, this is a guy who can play the outfield at a professional level. We’re hesitant to say he can’t do anything and we don’t doubt that he’ll improve in a lot of areas as he continues to play football exclusively.

In short, Gaffney may not be a player to prioritize, but he is definitely a player to know about in case he lands in a favorable situation. We like his chances quite a bit if he lands with a team that runs a power running scheme, like the Giants, Colts, Ravens, Browns or Jets.

I’ll firm up Gaffney’s fantasy value after the draft.



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