Barkley is a world class NFL RB. But heís one who is averse to contact and isnít particularly adept at gaining tough short yardage. Penny hasnít impressed me in that role, though Hilliman showed some promise. There may already be someone on the roster who can fill that role, but if so, Iím not convinced.
In reviewing NFL prospects for that role there are several characteristics I initially look for; some size, some power, good contact balance, aggressive determination and general RB competence. When seeking these traits, there are some backs who appear to both possess them, and also offer a little bit more. And I think I may have found one. And surprisingly, heís from a Div. II school.
Itís innately difficult to evaluate the NFL potential of a player whoís outstanding at a lower level of competition. Generally, you want to see the traits youíre looking for with dominance and outstanding production. That fairly well describes RB Nate Gunn of Minnesota State Mankato. Listed at 6í2Ē, 220, in 2019 he ran for 1,667 yards in 260 attempts for a 6.4 average per carry. Nice! But what I really want is a RB with a nose for the end zone, and Gunn delivered 31 TDís. I.e., a big, productive, workhorse RB who scores.
Stats are useful, but can be misleading. Often RBís who put up dazzling numbers at lower levels of competition are smaller scat backs, or plodding monsters, who become long shots to ever see an NFL roster. I need to see the RB with the ball in his hand, and this is where Gunn began to excite me.
Iíve not been able to find as much video of him as I would like, but at the top of his game, he is impressive. With decent size, youíd expect him to have some power, and he does. But thatís almost a minor characteristic. He has outstanding vision and some of the best contact-balance this side of Alstott that Iíve seen. And heís agile for a man his size. This results in him being one of the toughest RBís to bring down that Iíve seen. He doesnít just try to run tacklers over, though he can, heís really slippery and hard to hold onto. Added to that, he has decent burst, and reasonable long speed.
While Gunn is a larger, well-conditioned small school RB, my judgment based on what Iím seeing is that in an NFL S& C and nutritional program heís likely to get even a bit larger and stronger. And with NFL coaching, his innate ability as a RB will get refined and embellished.
Considering that heís not YET even appearing on most lists of 2020 NFL RB prospects, and probably wonít get a Combine invite, he will either be a very late round pick, or an UDFA. Considering that the Giants have three 7th round picks, he might offer an intriguing opportunity to augment the Giants RB corp.
Iíve not been able to find much decent video of Nate. Unfortunately, the clip that best showcases his talent is from 2017. But given his 2019 stats, as shown above, his ability hasnít diminished.
2017 Video Highlights Nate Gunn RB
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