NFL Draft News & Analysis

2018 Prospect Preview: Rodney Smith rivals other highly regarded RBs in the Big Ten

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 27: Rodney Smith #1 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers leaps for a touchdown past Peyton Pelluer #47, Treshon Broughton #16, and Isaac Dotson #31 of the Washington State Cougars during the second half of the Holiday Bowl at at Qualcomm Stadium on December 27, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • Minnesota redshirt junior RB Rodney Smith carried the Golden Gophers’ offense last season, largely due to his ability to make people miss in space. He forced 56 missed tackles on the ground to rank No. 1 among returning Power 5 running backs with fewer than 270 carries.
  • A former three-star recruit, Smith earned an 80.0 elusive rating last season, which ranked No. 13 among all draft-eligible running backs with at least 175 carries.
  • In addition to avoiding contact altogether, Smith flashed solid contact balance in 2016. He stayed up through first contact on 37.5 percent of his attempts, ranking No. 9 in the 2018 draft class.
  • To ascend up draft boards even further next season, Smith will need to pair his elite elusiveness with better vision on zone runs. He earned the No. 69 ranked grade among all draft-eligible running backs on zone runs.

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