It’s difficult to imagine the Los Angeles Rams seeking a running back in the 2018 NFL Draft considering Todd Gurley’s success last season. Gurley is undoubtedly the workhorse, but behind him the running back position underperformed. The Lance Dunbar experiment fell short due to injury, but perhaps it’s time to consider a prospect like Iowa’s Akrum Wadley.
The best way to describe Wadley is by comparing to him something out of a Madden video game. He’s an extremely athletic, shifty back that’s capable of making defenders look silly. He has a plethora of juke moves that often leads to extra yards. His change of direction seems effortless, which makes him a difficult target to keep up with for anyone on the defensive front. Wadley in the open field isn’t just a risk for a big play, it’s an opportunity for six points.
Wadley finished his senior season with 1109 rushing yards, 353 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns. He became more of an aerial threat the past two seasons. He proved he was just too valuable to keep off the field.
Wadley brings the excitement of a playmaker, but lacks the frame needed to break tackles. His size (5’10”) and strength is also a concern when it comes to blocking. Because of his frame and his inability to block, he will likely be used in the NFL as a situational runner and not an every-down-back. While his juke moves can be entertaining to watch, he tends to rely on them too much and sometimes backtracks instead of making forward progress. He made strides in catching the ball in backfield, but lacked consistency in his route-running.
Teams will likely back away from Wadley as a Day 1 prospect. The Iowa prospect has a ton of potential, but his limitations will likely keep him from being a starter in the NFL. His athleticism will still intrigue some, and I expect him to have good NFL Combine numbers. He should go sometime in the third round.
Should the Rams use their third round pick for him? It depends on who else is available. This pick is more of a luxury pick, but it would give head coach Sean McVay the freedom to get a little more creative with his offensive scheme. Wadley would make a nice compliment to Gurley. Having more versatility in the offense wouldn’t be a bad idea. More weapons at Jared Goff’s disposal will give the offense more of an opportunity to score.