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D'Onta Foreman breaks the mold for big backs

A big guy with eye-popping speed? Sign us up.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

When people think of big running backs, they think slower, powerful bruisers who can run through contact at the line of scrimmage and pick up tough yards.

Rarely do people think of those hulking running backs doing this...

At 6-1, 250 pounds, that's D'Onta Foreman hitting the second level and outrunning everyone. To give you an idea of how big Foreman is, he weighs three pounds more than Derrick Henry, who is two inches taller than him. Henry measured in at the combine in the 99th percentile for NFL running backs in terms of size.

So, yeah, Foreman is a big guy.

But, somewhat similar to Derrick Henry actually, he is different from what people think when they imagine these types of running backs. Foreman is certainly big, but his game is based on finesse. He has nimble feet that give him an ability to change direction impressively well for any back, not just a 250 pounder, and his top speed is incredible.

A player Foreman's size redirecting to the outside, beating the defender to the edge and housing that run is a ridiculous play. It is moments like that where Foreman shows off just how unique a player he is. Foreman is also a patient runner, with good vision and does a good job letting blocks develop rather than just running full steam ahead into the teeth of a play. The subtle movements he makes behind the line of scrimmage to set plays up is so impressive and helps him get to the second level.

He follows his blocking beautifully here and once he gets to the second level, there is no catching him. He is a true home run threat despite having the build of a bigger back.

For Foreman, power is not his primary trait that makes him so successful, but luckily the power of physics allows it to be something that is in back pocket. It is a double edged sword, because Foreman's size means he takes some time to get going and can brought down a bit too easily behind the line of scrimmage. However, once Foreman is able to get to his second gear, 250 pounds moving at speed would be difficult for any type of player to bring down.

This is just one example of what I am talking about. He is a big back, but his power is more about momentum than natural strength and he is not the type of player who can break contact at or behind the line on a regular basis. If he can hit the line at full speed, his legs don't stop churning and that can gives him a better ability to break tackles and create yardage through contact.

There is a lot to like about Foreman. He is a different type of back, but there is no count that a big back with his long speed would be an attractive prospect. As a runner, there are things to clean up, but they are things he can improve on. His issues at the line of scrimmage can be helped by being a bit more aggressive. While patience is good as a runner, slow feet can sink plays for Foreman. Also, as a taller back, improving his pad level at the next level could maximize his power.

Foreman was used sparingly in the passing game during his time at Texas, only racking up seven catches in 2016. However, he had nice moments like this when targeted in the passing game: 

While there are certainly better backs in the class in terms of pass catching, there is reason to think foreman could be competent in the NFL on third down. At the very least, Foreman has experience pass blocking and his size makes him an asset picking up blitzes.

Foreman only had one year of being "they guy" for the Longhorns, so I am not worried about tread on his tires despite 323 carries this season, which is the second most in this class. It is impressive that he accounted for 71% of Texas' rushing yards, a figure that is second best in the class. He was consistently producing despite defenses keying on him.

NFL Comparison: Foreman is a very unique player and he has a lot of Legarrette Blount to him. Both are incredibly big backs, but have made their careers off of very good agility and being able to pull away from defenses at the second level. Neither will ever be considered great pass catch backs, but make an impact toting the rock to compensate.

This is a very stacked running back class and, frankly, it gets very nit-picky in the middle to rank guys. Foreman is a flawed back and he is not the stud the all around stud that Dalvin Cook is, or the extreme athlete that Leonard Fournette is, but he has a really unique skill set that can be very valuable in an NFL offense. For the Eagles he makes sense sometime on the second day of the draft. His lack of defined pass catching skills hurt his projection in the offense, but his size would complement the smaller receiving backs the Eagles currently have.

Wherever he ends up, it is hard not to see Foreman be a productive runner. He has breakaway speed at 250 pounds and some team is going to fall in love with that and feed him the ball.

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