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NFL Draft Snapshot: Royce Freeman

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

It is early in the season to be diving deeply into draft stuff, sure, but there is obviously a big need on the Eagles roster. Despite the Eagles impressive rushing performance against the Giants last week, it is clear that the team is still an every down back away from the offense truly being unlocked. Having a dependable guy in the backfield who can keep a defense honest will take a lot of pressure off of Carson Wentz and balance out the offense.

So, to keep everyone's ears perked up throughout the season, I will be doing weekly highlights of some of college football's most intriguing running back prospects. Luckily for you guys and even luckier for the Eagles, there area lot of exciting backs in the college level poised to have big roles in the NFL.

Royce Freeman

We start with a back who has been running all over college defenses since 2014. Oregon's Royce Freeman took college football by storm his freshman year when he rushed for over 1,300 yards and 18 touchdowns, paying a huge part in Oregon's national title appearance. When Marcus Mariota left for the NFL after Freeman's first season, Royce took over as Oregon's star on offense. His sophomore year, Freeman rushed for an impressive 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns, scoring another two through the air. Oregon dropped off his junior year last year, however, and Freeman dealt with injuries in his least productive season where he only scored nine touchdowns on the ground while just missing a thousand yards rushing. This season, Freeman seems to be back in business. With only four games in the books, Freeman has rushed for over 500 yards and is leading the country with an impressive 10 touchdowns on only 97 carries so far. He looks to be in for a huge final season in college.

The first thing that stands out about Freeman is his size. At 5'11" and nearly 240 pounds, Freeman is as well built as most backs at any level of football. Unsurprisingly with a back his size, Freeman can pack a lot of punch in every carry.

Freeman has the ability to power through defenders and finish runs with authority, obviously. However, that is expected with backs of his size and while his strength is impressive, his movement is even more surprising given his build.

Not only is he balanced and strong, but his footwork plays a big part in his productivity as well. He does a good job making subtle cuts without losing speed and just as easily makes guys miss as he can run through them.

This is Freeman at his absolute best. The vision, footwork and acceleration through his cuts leads to this massive run where he busts open the entire defense. It is rare to see this type of breakaway from Freeman, but it is a testament to just how athletic he is.

Freeman is a very solid prospect. He may not have any outstanding traits but he is really the whole package considering his size and athletic ability. Not only that, but he is a proven receiver and pass blocker as well. The only thing that limits Freeman is pad level. He has a tendency to run high early in the play and when he's not at full speed, it makes him easier to bring down. He has natural size and strength, but tends to rely on that too much to help him get through the first level of the defense.

NFL Comparison: It could be a lazy comparison, but Freeman has a lot in common with a former Oregon Duck, Jonathan Stewart. Like Stewart, Freeman is not going to ever be an elite back in the NFL, but his blend of size, strength and athletic ability will make him a valuable piece on any offense.

Freeman is not going to be talked about among the elite backs in college football, nor should he be selected as highly as any of them in the draft, but he has a very bright NFL future. For the Eagles, it's hard not to want a back like Freeman in the backfield. He has the physical tools to be an asset in the running game and provides a blocking option or safety valve on passing plays. With how he has carried the rock so consistently at Oregon, he could be the bell cow the Eagles need to balance out their offense.

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