NFL Draft 2017 Scouting Report: RB D’Onta Foreman, Texas
*Our RB grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, leaked Wonderlic test results, etc. We will update ratings as new info becomes available.
*We use the term “Power RB” to separate physically bigger, more between-the-tackles-capable RBs from our “Speed RBs” group. “Speed RBs” are physically smaller but much faster/quicker, and less likely to flourish between the tackles.
I think all of us reading this are reasonable enough football fans. I don’t need to tell you that D’Onta Foreman is an intriguing NFL draft prospect, especially after you saw his Pro Day results. His prospect resume is nearly perfect. His Pro Day workout confirmed his unbelievable 2016 season was no fluke. Foreman is one of those rare humans larger than 230 pounds who can also run a 40 in 4.50 give or take. His agility scores came in pretty nice for his size as well.
There’s nothing to pick at, physically, with Foreman…nor can you really attack his output. Over the last two years at the University of Texas, he was given 11 or more carries in the game 14 times – and in each of those games, he ran for 100+ yards. Sometimes 150+ yards (8 times), occasionally 250 or more yards (three times), and one time he set a school record with 341 yards rushing in a game. He ran it up on the best and worst teams on his schedule. The guy obviously has all the makings of a nice starting running back in the NFL. It’s kinda nitpicky or silly to even debate it.
There is one real concern and another nitpicky concern scouts have on Foreman…
The real concern comes looking at Foreman’s college numbers and noticing his six fumbles/six lost fumbles in 2016. That’s concerning. However, Foreman mentioned he had broken his hand a few weeks into the 2016 season and just played through it. Supposedly, all of the fumbles came after the halfway point of the season. I’ve been in contact with people who have some insight behind the scenes with Texas and they feel confident with Foreman’s claim. He broke his pinky in a game and the medical staff treated it and helped him work around it for the rest of the season. They did not make it public. From what I know of D’Onta Foreman, he’s not one to lie or make excuses. He announced the broken hand issue almost matter-of-factly well after the season. He found out he had a hairline fracture in his foot at the NFL Combine and was then not able to participate. Foreman had been training and working with the foot issue for weeks maybe months. He’s a guy who plays through pain and doesn’t make excuses, so I tend to buy the story that the fumbles may have had a lot to do with his secret broken hand.
Let’s sit with that broken hand story for a second. Really, the only thing negative anyone has to say about Foreman’s translation to the NFL is pointing towards the six fumbles. It’s become a cliché and a punchline. You mention how big and fast Foreman is and someone will slip in… “…but yeah if he could only hold onto the ball.” If that issue did not exist – how much do you love D’Onta for the NFL? Without the fumble issue, he would have no flaws. He’d just be a highly athletic, powerful, ultra-productive RB prospect ready to take over an NFL team’s backfield. The fumbling issue has ruined his draft prospect status. Most scouts hung a third or fourth round grade on him back in January, for reasons I cannot understand. Now that the possible secret broken hand stuff is out in the open and he finally got to run at his Pro Day everyone’s having to change their valuation. Well, some are changing them. Some are still stuck back in January making fun of his fumbles.
I think part of the problem is the NFL media made Leonard Fournette out to be such a god, that there might be a problem if people realize the scouts didn’t like the similarly-talented Foreman that much, and that the media didn’t even see Foreman coming. Instead of changing their opinions with the changing facts, most football analysts are still stuck talking about fumbles and projecting him as a sleeper in the third/fourth round. In reality, if that fumbling issue didn’t exist, Foreman would be a first round RB prospect. My God, if Melvin Gordon and Dalvin Cook can be considered first rounders by the media and analysts – D’Onta Foreman without the fumble issue is a slam dunk first round running back. I recognize the fumbles, but I am leaning heavily to that NOT being an issue because there was really no issue until they started popping up well into the season. On top of all that, I’d think a fumble issue with man of Foreman’s size and hand size (10.1″) should be fairly easily correctable with some tweaks in the NFL.
The other mild issue analysts try to attack Foreman with is that he’s not a breakaway runner. My response to that would be – they are 100% right, and who cares? They said the same thing about Jordan Howard.
Marshawn Lynch was not a breakaway runner…he was just one of the most effective runners of the past decade in the NFL. I drop the Marshawn Lynch name because I think that’s exactly what we’re looking at here – the second coming of Marshawn Lynch. The gift Foreman brings to the table is the same as Lynch’s – a true/pure power runner who stays behind his blockers and stays between the tackles and just punishes the gut of the opposing defense. There’s no dancing around with Foreman. He knows who he is. He’s a battering ram between the tackles, but unlike typical big/slow battering ram running backs in the NFL, Foreman is faster than most running backs 10–20+ pounds lighter. This battering ram comes with a V-8 engine. Just like Marshawn Lynch…only Foreman is bigger than Marshawn, at least coming out of college. You want breakaway speed? Go get a change of pace guy. You want a running back who can run 20+ times a game for 100+ yards a game, is money near the goal line and breaks the will of opposing defenses – you draft D’Onta Foreman.
If you want to know what Foreman is made of, go watch the final quarter of Texas’s opening game victory in 2016 over Notre Dame. His combination of size, power, and balance was stupendous. He was Marshawn Lynch…a bigger, quicker Marshawn Lynch.
Unlike Marshawn Lynch, Foreman enters the NFL with no baggage. He is an upbeat, happy, humble kid. He has a mild chip on his shoulder from being snubbed by the Heisman process, and now being mildly snubbed by many football analysts for the NFL Draft. You’re getting a good locker room guy, a guy who was an on and off honor roll student at Texas, and a workhorse running back when you take D’Onta Foreman.
D’Onta Foreman, through the lens of our “Power RB” Scouting Algorithm
Nothing to pick at here…
When given 11 or more carries in a game in his career, Foreman averaged 174.6 rushing yards and 1.3 TDs per game.
Foreman averaged 6.3 yards per carry in 2016 with a very similar schedule to Samaje Perine, who averaged 5.4 yards per carry.
Foreman only caught 12 passes in 27 college games and just 7 passes in his breakout 2016 season. Texas looked like they kept Foreman between the tackles or used him as play action between the tackles with Foreman then blocking. There were not a lot of swing or screen passes with Foreman. Watching him in individual workouts, he seemed fine catching the ball. He’s not a David Johnson weapon or anything, just competent…like an Ezekiel Elliott. Probably, better hands (or worst case ‘similar’) than Leonard Fournette in the passing game. Foreman’s not running any wheel routes…it will all be simple screens or swings, and limited targets at that. You don’t use him heavily in a West Coast Offense.
NFL Combine & Pro Day data…
6’0.2/232 (Combine), 237 pounds at his Pro Day.
4.45 40-time (Pro Day), 7.10 three-cone (Pro Day)
33’0″ vertical (Pro Day), 18 reps bench press
Foreman’s college stats on CFB Reference: http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/donta-Foreman-1.html
The NFL “Power RB” that D’Onta Foreman most compares with statistically in college, within our system:
No Marshawn Lynch here? He was 215 pounds coming out of Cal in 2007, so 20 pounds lighter than Foreman. I don’t know that I’m ready to go full Steven Jackson but our computer models like it. Jonathan Stewart makes some sense too.
*A score of 8.50+ is where we see a stronger correlation of RBs going on to become NFL good/great/elite. A score of 10.00+ is more rarefied air in our system and indicates a greater probability of becoming an elite NFL RB.
All of the RB ratings are based on a 0–10 scale, but a player can score negative, or above a 10.0 in certain instances.
Overall rating/score = A combination of several on-field performance measures, including refinement for the strength of opponents faced, mixed with all the physical measurement metrics—then compared/rated historically within our database and formulas. More of a traditional three-down search—runner, blocker, and receiver.
*RB-Re score = New/testing in 2017. Our new formula/rating that attempts to identify and quantify a prospect’s receiving skills even deeper than in our original formulas. RB prospects can now make it/thrive in the NFL strictly based on their receiving skills—it is an individual attribute sought out for the NFL and no longer dismissed or overlooked. Our rating combines a study of their receiving numbers in college in relation to their offense and opponents, as well as profiling size-speed-agility along with hand-size measurables, etc.
*RB-Ru score = New/testing in 2017. Our new formula/rating that attempts to classify and quantify an RB prospect’s ability strictly as a runner of the ball. Our rating combines a study of their rushing numbers in college in relation to their offense and strength of opponents, as well as profiling size-speed-agility along with various size measurables, etc.
Raw Speed Metric = A combination of several speed and size measurements from the NFL Combine, judged along with physical size profile, and then compared/rated historically within our database and scouting formulas. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.
Agility Metric = A combination of several speed and agility measurements from the NFL Combine, judged along with physical size profile, and then compared/rated historically within our database and scouting formulas. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.
2017 NFL Draft outlook…
The major mainstream websites have D’Onta Foreman listed as a fourth-rounder as of this writing because they update their information about 2-3 weeks behind the real news. Multi-million dollar budgets and personnel…and those websites are out of touch with critical details constantly. I suspect when the mainstream is told it’s OK to like Foreman he’ll move into the third round, but that’s as far as he’ll probably go. On draft day, I think he’ll be a semi-shock second-round pick…maybe as high as #40-50. He’s the Leonard Fournette consolation prize.
NFL Outlook: Foreman is waiting to be some team’s Marshawn Lynch. Seattle signing Eddie Lacy and otherwise congested at RB is probably out. If Belichick pulls this off…passes on a LeGarrette Blount re-signing, and instead lands a third round D’Onta Foreman, I’m going to laugh hysterically.
– R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics.com and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics.com. Read more of his work on FantasyPros and various football websites. His group also provides player projections for fantasy software such as Advanced Sports Logic’s The Machine.