Those of you who paid attention to the NFL Scouting Combine back in February may remember laughing at this guy for his comedic performance during the 40-yard dash. I'm sure that Mississippi State's Vick Ballard will not be allowed to live down that embarrassing moment.
The 5'10" running back is a bull when it comes to running between the tackles. He makes the effort to gain that extra yard or two by hitting the hole hard and not being afraid to engage with defenders who are in his way.
What the Experts are Saying:
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller put Ballard 15th on his list of RBs, putting him at 178 overall on the big board.
Meanwhile, CBSSports.com had him ranked 13th among RBs, and at a much higher 113 overall, which projected to the mid-fourth round. Along with the overall look at Ballard, Dane Brugler shed some light on the running back's strengths and weaknesses.
Here's what he had to say about his strong points.
Patient behind the line of scrimmage, allowing blocks to create openings, and looks for the cutback lanes with accurate vision. Hits the hole hard and runs with power, churning out extra yardage. Possesses soft hands out of the backfield and is regarded as a very good practice player with top work ethic. Earned the starting job quickly last year and was voted a senior captain in 2011, finishing as one of only four SEC running backs to surpass 1,000 rush yards on the season.
And for his weaknesses.
A one-speed, straight-linish runner without much wiggle or shiftiness won't make defenders miss in small areas and lacks the long speed to out-run anyone. Loses momentum when he gears down to change directions and it takes him a few steps to accelerate back to full speed. Appears indecisive at times and will dance too much at the line of scrimmage. Lacks the dynamic qualities to create on his own. Needs to stay balanced through contact, going down too easily for a running back with his size.
Expected Impact as a Rookie:
Ballard could see himself as a useful third-down back depending on the situation. He fights for those extra yards, but because of his (lack of) ability to stay strong after contact, he might not be able to stretch those running attempts into larger gains.
With that, Ballard does have the potential to be a solid player somewhere down the line. In the coming years, one of the things he will need to work on—as Brugler pointed out—is breaking through contact. Once he does that and works on his speed, he could hit holes and possibly break into open-field situations, which are a running back's dream.