The Philadelphia Eagles signed undrafted rookie free agent running back Mike Warren following the 2020 NFL Draft. In order to learn more about him, I reached out to SB Nation’s Cincinnati blog: Down The Drive. Bearcats writer Michael Schneid was kind enough to answer my questions ... despite the fact he’s a Dallas Cowboys fan!
“As a Bearcats alum, and Dallas Cowboys fan, I’m quite hurt that of all teams, Warren had to go to Philly. But I think he’ll make the 53 man roster and impress people down the road.”
1) Can you recap his college career?
Michael Warren, aka the Truck, had an incredible career as a Cincinnati Bearcat. He was mostly a non-factor during a horrible 4-8 2017 season for Cincinnati, but over the last two years, as the Bearcats compiled a 22-5 record, Warren was the heart and soul of the offense. In his first career start, he burst onto the season week 1 of the 2018 season, when Cincinnati won at UCLA in a breakthrough victory. Warren had 35 carries for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns, including one on 4th down with under 2 minutes to go, to seal the game.
Overall, Warren has the second most rushing touchdowns in UC history (34) and in 2018 set a single season record with 19 TDs. His 2,918 career yards is 6th all-time at UC and his 1,329 yards in 2018 is third all-time for single season. He had 14 games with over 100 yards rushing, scored a touchdown in 18 out of 24 games started and in 11 of those games, who scored 2 or more rushing touchdowns (3 rush TDs in 4 games)
2) What are his strengths?
He is a truck. It’s a nickname, but it’s also a legitimate trait. Warren will run over anyone and everyone in his way and his biggest strength is his ability to break tackles. Warren is excellent at converting short-yardage situations.
3) What are his weaknesses?
Warren has deceptive speed for his size and if he hits the open field, it’s over. But he has one speed. Warren isn’t shifty or overly agile like Darren Sproles. He can’t shift gears and isn’t a great lateral runner. He needs to hit the hole and go down the field. Something that will also hurt him, as far as making an NFL roster is his lack of special teams experience and being a poor pass blocker. He often came out on third down passing situations in 2019, to allow an extra blocker in the backfield.
4) Are you surprised he went undrafted?
Yes and no. First, I was surprised to see that he declared. Incredibly, he became the first UC Bearcat to ever leave early for the NFL Draft. But he has 559 carries over the last three years, and quite honestly, had nothing left to prove at this level. His draft stock wasn’t really going to grow much, maybe he could have been a 5th or 6th round pick in 2021, but he would have been risking injury if he returned and also would have added another 250 carries (and more than 250 hits) to hit body. So he made the right decision, even though he was undrafted.
He definitely had a strong enough career and enough talent to be drafted, so in that regard I was surprised, but at the same time running backs are disposable nowadays in the NFL and many guys in this deep draft class had either a similar or better skill set than Warren. I personally think he was hurt by the lack of a real draft process. The lack of one-on-one team workouts, a Pro Day, among other things definitely impacted his stock.
5) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
Warren will likely never ascend to super stardom, but remember that time Jonas Gray randomly ran for 4 touchdowns for the Patriots against the Colts? Remember how Vikings backup Mike Boone (a fellow Bearcat) became a fantasy football darling during the championship round? Random things happen with running backs. Warren’s ceiling is 1-2 random major moments, but otherwise a fair comp might be Jordan Howard, as there are some similarities. Warren is a big bulky back (5’11, 222 pounds vs Howard is 6’0, 224 pounds), who can play a short yardage role and can also catch passes out of the backfield.
He definitely has a chance to make the 53 man roster in Philly, with a lack of major depth behind Miles Sanders. But like I said above, a lack of special teams experience could hurt him since usually RB3-4 is asked to play there. If not in Philly or if not 2020, Warren should be able to carve out a nice role as a supporting back for the next 5-6 years, at least.
6) Anything to know about him off the field?
He’s a great guy! When I say he was the heart and soul of the offense, I meant the heart and the personality of the team. Coach Luke Fickell once said “For us to be who we are, he’s (Warren) got to be the energy provider.”
One tradition UC adapted the last couple years is banging a drum after a touchdown. Given that Warren led the team in TDs, it was often him that hit it. But it was a fun tradition, that whether he scored or not, he was on the sideline with his teammates involved in.
My favorite part of this clip of Michael Warren #BangingTheDrum after scoring a TD at Camp Higher Ground are his teammates Desmond Ridder and Jakari Robinson rhythmically pretending to bang it with him #Bearcats pic.twitter.com/v6705AwLO7— Dan Hoard (@Dan_Hoard) August 13, 2019
BLG’s take: I have Warren making the team on my latest 53-man roster projection but his chances of sticking are obviously going to be hurt if/when the Eagles sign a veteran running back. The Eagles could very well look to keep Warren on their 12-man practice squad. He could eventually earn a role in the backfield rotation.
No athletic testing available, just measurements via Mockdraftable: