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Alabama Football 2015 NFL Draft Profiles: T.J. Yeldon

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One of the most prolific running backs in Alabama history also has one of the most polarizing skill sets as a runner. How will he fare in trying to make his way into the NFL?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

T.J. Yeldon

Position: Running Back

Age: 22

Height: 6'1" and 1/5

Weight: 226

Arm Length: 31.625 in.

Hand Width: 9 in.

Wingspan: 75.875 in.

40-Yard Dash: 4.52s

20-Yard Split: 2.56s

10-Yard Split: 1.57s

Short Shuttle: 4.22s

Three Cone: 7.19s

Bench Press: 22 reps

Vertical Jump: 34 in.

Broad Jump: 9.92 ft.

SPARQ*: 122.7

Z-Score*: 0.1

*Note: These values were calculated by Zach Whitman of Fieldgulls.com and 3sigmaathlete.com. A higher SPARQ score means that player is more athletic. A positive Z-score means that the athlete has above average athleticism for an NFL player at his position, and a negative means that he is below average. If you want a more in depth explanation, here is my previous article.

2014 Statistics

Carries: 194

Yards: 979

Touchdowns: 11

Catches: 15

Yards: 180

Touchdowns: 1

Strengths

T.J. Yeldon has footwork that is unparalleled by almost any running back I have ever seen. He has an uncanny ability to set defenders up to completely whiff their tackles without losing his speed. Yeldon is great at finding cut back lanes in the offensive line, and has the lateral agility and acceleration to hit those lanes before they close. At 226 pounds, all of Yeldon's weight in his lower body, and he is very adept at leaping and stretching out for extra yards when he knows he has no chance to keep breaking tackles. Yeldon is deadly on running back screens, and is a reliable option in the passing game. He's also a very nuanced and impressive pass blocker.

Weaknesses

Over the past couple of seasons, Yeldon seems to have lost the confidence that he ran with as a freshman. He tends to be indecisive behind the line of scrimmage, often looking for bigger holes rather than following the designed play with confidence. This lead to a boom-or-bust type of production from him, and also really hurts his ability as a short-yardage back, especially for someone his size. While big for a running back, Yeldon is not a powerful or aggressive runner, and tends to look to avoid contact rather than plowing through it. He has also struggled every year at Alabama with nagging injuries.

Verdict

T.J. Yeldon is one of the most prolific rushers of all time at Alabama, with more career yards than any of his three predecessors, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Eddie Lacy. After a phenomenal freshman season spelling Eddie Lacy, Yeldon took on the starting role over the next two years. However, a combination of nagging injuries and a weight gain seemed to cause a change in his natural running style, and Yeldon never quite looked like the back that was his freshman year.

He is a uniquely talented back with above average athleticism. He has an odd, gliding running style and amazing footwork. He is a small back in the body of a 230 pound bruiser, and would likely be well suited to drop 15 pounds and embrace his more natural style of running. He has the ability to be an every down back, as he is especially useful on passing downs. Yeldon is projected to be picked somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd rounds, but I could see teams passing on him until at least the 4th due to injury and overuse in college concerns.