2012 NFL Draft: Foswhitt Whittaker's 8 Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IApril 15, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Foswhitt Whittaker's 8 Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses

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    Foswhitt "Fozzy" Whittaker has had a roller coaster of a college career with plenty of ups and downs in his four years at the University of Texas.

    It's not often that you would see a Texas running back who has started four-or-more games since his sophomore season in jeopardy of not being an NFL draft selection.

    But if Whittaker is going to make it in the NFL, it will likely be as a return specialist and not as a lead running back.

    This former Longhorn is one of the premier athletes in the 2012 draft class, but there are plenty of questions surrounding his name.

    Let's go ahead break down eight strengths and weaknesses for Fozzy Whittaker—Bleacher Report style!

STRENGTH: Track Speed

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    Whittaker is one of the fastest players in this year's draft class, and that speed should give him a realistic chance of making it in the NFL as a return specialist.

    Although Whittaker did not run the 40-yard dash at this year's NFL combine, he has been timed in the 4.4-second range before—an ideal speed for someone at his position.

    To say one of Whittaker's strengths is his "track speed" is 100 percent accurate. (He actually ran the opening leg of the 4x100-meter relay for Texas at the 2010 Big 12 Track and Field Championships.)

    You can't teach speed, and it will give this guy a leg up on his competitors.

WEAKNESS: Injury Concerns

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    Many wonder just how good Fozzy Whittaker could have been in college had it not been for all of his injuries.

    It all started before Whittaker even took the field in his sophomore season.

    He was forced to miss the first three games of the season with a knee injury, but he ended up bouncing back and having a solid second half for Texas.

    In his junior season, Whittaker started off with a bang, rushing for more than 50 yards and totaling two touchdowns in four of the first five games of the season.

    But then he began to slow down, and Whittaker got hurt in the Longhorns' game against Oklahoma State. He missed the following game against Florida Atlantic and was limited to just 35 yards and 10 carries in Texas' regular season finale against rival Texas A&M.

    Last season, Whittaker got off to another nice start and had arguably his best game of the year against Texas Tech, rushing for 83 yards and two touchdowns.

    But the following week, he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Missouri, which he is still trying to recover from to this day.

STRENGTH: Return Specialist

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    He isn't Tyrann Mathieu. But before his season-ending injury late last year, there weren't many return men in college football better than Fozzy Whittaker.

    Before his injury, Whittaker led all of college football in kickoff return average, posting a 42.4 yards per return average. He was one of the lone bright spots on a Texas team that underachieved throughout 2011.

    One bright spots came in Weeks 5 and 6, when Whittaker scored on 100-yard kickoff returns in back-to-back games against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. And he set a school record for kickoff return yards against Oklahoma State, finishing with 252.

    Obviously, if Whittaker is able to make a full recovery from that leg injury, he could be a huge asset at the next level with his exceptional return skills.

WEAKNESS: Undersized

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    It's tough to say that a running back is undersized, because some of the best running backs in the game today are small guys.

    Maurice Jones Drew, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson and Darren Sproles are all perfect examples.

    But those guys were all studs in college, and they all specialized in something.

    Jones-Drew was a downhill runner and near-impossible to tackle in the open field, and Rice, Johnson and Sproles are all elusive runners who can run both inside and outside the tackles.

    That's not the case with Whittaker, who's only 5'9", 193 pounds and avoids running inside the tackles.

    If Whittaker can fully recover from this injury and regain his speed, then he can get away with being a change-of-pace back or strictly a return specialist at his size.

    Either way, he is going to have to put on some muscle in order to be successful at the next level.

STRENGTH: Good Receiver out of the Backfield

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    If Fozzy Whittaker is going to have success in the NFL, it is likely going to come as a return specialist and as a third-down back.

    To be a successful third-down back, you need to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield, which is one of Whittaker's specialties.

    This former Texas standout has very soft hands, and he is particularly good at catching the ball and using his lateral quickness to turn up field.

    Whittaker's style can be described as a "slasher" or "cut-back runner," which is exactly what you want to see.

    In the NFL today, it is important for every team to have a solid lead and third-down backs, which means Whittaker has a chance to make it—no doubt about it.

WEAKNESS: Lacks Consistency

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    NFL scouts look for consistency in potential draft picks.

    In Whittaker's case, he lacks consistency, often seeing his production change and occasionally fade on a game-to-game basis.

    For instance, this past season, Whittaker carried the ball six times for 43 yards against a very good Oklahoma defense, with an average of more than seven yards per carry.

    But then, he followed with nine carries for 36 yards (4.0 YPG) against a below-average Oklahoma State defense.

    Whittaker needs to work on being more consistent if he is going to have a shot at playing running back in the NFL.

STRENGTH: He's Played on the Biggest Stage

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    A great way to prepare for the NFL is to play against top-notch competition in college, and Fozzy Whittaker certainly did that.

    Whittaker started two-or-more games in all four years he was at the University of Texas.

    Of course, playing in the Big 12 is no cake walk. With teams like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Missouri and Texas A&M, top-notch competition is a weekly occurrence.

    Not to mention, Whittaker and the Longhorns took on Alabama in the 2009 National Championship—the biggest stage in college football.

    Whittaker has played on the biggest stage against the best of the best in his days at Texas.

    That experience should only help him moving forward.

WEAKNESS: Far from 100 Percent

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    From what his teammates and coaches say, Whittaker is a guy everyone wants to get healthy after suffering a leg injury last season.

    But as it stands right now, Whittaker hasn't even been cleared to begin jogging up to this point, although he expects that to come sometime soon.

    He was invited to the NFL combine, but he could only take part in the bench-press portion of the drills.

    Whittaker's hope is to be back on the field in time for training camp.

    But with no exact time table right now, it's tough for NFL teams to go out and use a draft pick on this guy—despite the immense amount of talent he possesses when he's 100 percent.

    If healthy, the rewards should outweigh the risk.