Joseph Randle Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for Oklahoma State RB
Fifth Round: 151st Pick
Joseph Randle had 38 rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons and brought an explosive running element to an offense known for its passing prowess. There are still doubts as to how much of Randle's production was a by-product of his offense, and whether his game will translate to the NFL. Does the prolific scorer hold up under the microscope?
Randle runs with a good low pad level and keeps his legs churning upon contact. His initial burst and speed chew up yards very quickly, and he runs hot with urgency on most touches. Randle is a good receiver out of the backfield, and he is also amazingly effective in the red zone for a back that isn't big enough to push the pile. He can make guys miss in the open field and make big plays for an offense that gives him room to operate outside of the hashmarks.
Randle is rarely going to break tackles or get a lot of yards after contact, but he does initiate contact and fall forward. He doesn't look like a back who will excel between the tackles or otherwise be productive when the offensive line doesn't give him big lanes to run through. Randle is somewhat stiff and straight-linish for the most part and will need to add weight to project as a starter in the NFL. He also had major ball-security problems in the past.
Randle has decent size at 6'0", 204, but as those measurements show, he is high-cut as opposed to a compactly built back, so he doesn't generate power in his running. His 4.63 40 was disappointing, but he plays faster than that—although he is not truly a speed back with the ability to pull away from NFL-quality defenders in the open field. Randle's 35" vertical and 10'3" broad jumps at the combine show his inherent explosiveness, but it only comes into play in the open field.
Randle is durable, and he has worked to improve his fumbling issues and to get bigger while at Oklahoma State. There are no known character issues, and Randle's teammates regarded him as a tenacious, hard-nosed competitor.
Randle takes his carries out of the shotgun, usually without a lead fullback. He was heavily used as a receiver and by his junior year, he had taken over as the workhorse for a team that is known for quality running backs.
For the most part, Randle is good at finding and hitting the cutback lanes, but he isn't a natural inside runner who prefers to get his shoulders squared upfield as quickly as he can. He will run up the back of his blockers at times, and Randle will also pass up modest gains inside to try to break runs outside without success.
Randle has soft hands and he is very natural adjusting to the ball and switching into run-after-catch mode as a receiver out of the backfield. Randle will initiate blocks with blitzers and occasionally land a good shot, but at other times he will shy away from contact or try to go low instead of take the blitzer head on. Still, he is a willing and experienced pass-blocker who can fill that role in a third-down offense.
Between the Tackles
Getting low right before contact and trying to push through holes that are just cracks in the defensive line is something you'll see Randle do, but he is much more comfortable running outside of the tackles. His high-cut build makes it tough for him to push the pile. Randle's posture as a running back is still generally too upright to project him as a quality back between the tackles.
Randle is not particularly elusive behind the line or in the open field, but he does do a good job of setting defenders up at the second level, and sometimes he'll make them guess wrong in spectacular fashion—as he did to likely first-round safety Kenny Vaccaro in the game against Texas in 2012. While he flashes the ability to burst through his cuts when they are decisive, for the most part Randle isn't a creative or dangerous runner in the open field.
Randle is never going to be your preferred running back in short yardage, and he goes down on first contact too often to be considered a power back. His preference to take the ball outside highlights the lack of power in his game, which isn't helped by his high-cut build.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
With added weight and strength, Randle could project as a 1A in a zone-blocking running game, but he'll more likely be a third-down and depth back in the pros. He could make some noise if injuries force him into a larger role, but with the quality of backs in the pros right now, it's hard to project him as a starter.
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