2015 NFL Draft Profile: RB TJ Yeldon


Apr 20, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide White Team running back TJ Yeldon (4) scores a touchdown against the Red Team during the annual A-Day game at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

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Let’s take a look at another NFL draft prospect, and one that might just be a good fit with the New York Jets.

The Jets do have quite the stable of running backs, with Chris Ivory, Stevan Ridley, Bilal Powell, and even Daryl Richardson. These are four quality running backs, ladies and gentlemen. There is no shortage of talent, but, it is missing something. What it is missing is a game breaker. The Jets backfield doesn’t have a guy that is a great pass catcher, that they can get on the outside, and watch take it the distance.

These players do similar things, run between the tackles, and power the football. They don’t really have the outside speed guy. Maybe the Jets look to the draft to get that guy?

Here is one guy the Jets should pay some attention to. Today, we are going to look at T.J. Yeldon from the University of Alabama.

Next: College Career

Here are Yeldon’s stats from Alabama:

Rushing & Receiving

5.8 yards per carry is a terrific average.  There is nothing to worry about there.  Yeldon also averaged over 10 touchdowns per season, proving a true nose for the end zone.  He faced top-level competition in the SEC as well. Yeldon also contributed far more in the passing game (45 receptions) than did Melvin Gordon (22 receptions).

Let’s see how he did at the Combine.

Next: NFL Combine

T.J. Yeldon measured in at 6’1″, and weighed in at 226 pounds. He ran a 4.61 40 yard dash, and a 7.19 “Three Cone” drill. His 40 at Alabama pro day was better, clocking at 4.52 seconds. Here are his strengths and weaknesses, courtesy of Dane Brugler’s 2015 draft guide:

STRENGTHS: Smooth lateral movements and makes it look easy stringing together various moves…terrific lower body burst and coordination, using elusive cuts and subtle footwork to be shifty in the open field – awesome stutter-and-go with a strong plant foot to accelerate out of cuts…always balanced with his nimble feet underneath him to stay upright through contact…patient to maneuver through traffic close to the line of scrimmage…has some deceiving power and won’t avoid contact, shaking off defenders without losing momentum or forward lean…toughs out injuries, often playing through pain…natural pass-catcher with beautiful body control, soft hands and smooth routes, often splitting out wide as a receiver…won’t shy in pass protection, squaring up with better take-on strength and blitz recognition than expected…reliable football character and work ethic with a likeable, soft-spoken personality…consistent production all three seasons in Tuscaloosa, leaving Alabama with 3,322 career rushing yards, which ranks No. 4 on the school’s all-time list.

WEAKNESSES: Taller than ideal with a lean torso and overall build, lacking an ideal body type for the position…run style is too upright and needs to improve his pad level…too reactionary and patient and needs to improve his recognition and decisiveness once he gets the ball…takes too much time reading blocks and needs to sense holes quicker to attack with authority – questionable vision and inside run instincts…not a pile mover and can be taken down by arm tackles at times…lacks elite speed and doesn’t have multiple gears to run away from defenders or consistently win the edge…squares well in pass protection, but doesn’t consistently play with the leverage, anchor or aggression necessary…improved ball security, but still has room for improvement – 10 fumbles in his three-year career (fumbled once every 62.2 offensive touches)…doesn’t have experience as a return man…has dealt with several nagging injuries, including hamstring and ankle issues in 2014.

We move to film and final thoughts on the next page.

Next: Film and Final Thoughts

I love T.J. Yeldon’s feet. He has excellent footwork, used to evade defenders. He can cut, jump cut, …etc. T.J. Yeldon almost glides over the football field as he makes defenders miss. He also has great game speed, although his straight line speed may not be elite. What I mean by game speed is that he can turn it on when he has to. He can run past guys when he must. He’s quick, if not fast. I also like to see T.J. Yeldon staying in to pass block, which will be vital to his career as a pro.

Yeldon does run very upright. Do you see how he runs with his pads up high when he goes between the tackles? It leaves him a lot of room to get hit. It works in college, but when he gets to the pros, he is going to need to work on getting his pads down low. We want Yeldon to be more than a one trick pony, only effective at running to the outside.

A third round grade is fair for T.J. Yeldon. He is not a bell-cow in the pros, at least not yet. But as a speed guy to the outside? T.J. Yeldon could fit that bill tomorrow, and be exactly what the Jets are looking for.

Next: Three Rounds of Jets Draft Picks by Mel Kiper Jr.

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