Every year, potentially great players slip through the cracks of the NFL Draft. Sometimes, guys come from an unknown program in DI-A or DII school. Other times, players with no major holes in their game are passed on by scouts when they are deemed too small to play the game. Sometimes an undrafted player can change the entire face of a team, as was the case with Tony Romo in Dallas. More often, undrafted players are able to find a key role in an NFL offense or defense that helps them achieve a long and successful career in the NFL. One of the more well-known UDFA role players in recent years is San Diego Chargers running back Danny Woodhead.
Today, we're going to take a look at a player with the potential to be a Danny Woodhead-like running back in the NFL. That player is Chase Edmonds, the running back and kick returner from Fordham. Edmonds has two major knocks against him from a scouting perspective, but both are superficial. First, he's "too small" to succeed in the NFL at 5'9, 196". Second, as an FCS player, his level of competition in college will raise questions among league executives. These factors combine and NFL Draft Scout ranks him as a likely undrafted prospect in 2018. However, when you take a closer look, Chase Edmonds has the very real potential to become a key cog in an NFL offensive scheme if placed in the right system. He also has the vision and burst to succeed as an NFL kick returner.
I'm always a big advocate for scouting guys by game tape instead of measuring tape. When I watch the film (some highlights here) on Edmonds, I see a player with great hips who will quickly sneak past defenders. He has solid hands, and is also a capable returner. After watching a few snaps, I immediately want to pigeonhole him as a 3rd down back in the NFL. That role makes sense for him, as he compares to Danny Woodhead favorably in multiple ways. However, his college production shows that he is capable of successfully handling more carries than an average change of pace back in the NFL; Edmonds is a player who rushed for 347 yards in a single game. Over his first 29 games as a college player, Edmonds has delivered 3863 rushing yards on 608 carries, a 6.4 yards per carry average. He's also caught 57 passes for 616 yards (a 10.8 yards per reception average). He's also found the endzone regularly with 47 rushing touchdowns and 7 receiving touchdowns. He returned 24 return for 514 yards (21.4 yards per return) as a freshman, but hasn't played as a returner since. With increased experience as a player, his ability as a returner may have improved since then. One thing is clear when you look at the film and the stat sheets. Chase Edmonds is a guy who can get things done. He has been since his freshman year when he received the Jerry Rice Award as the most outstanding freshman in the FCS in 2014.
As I've mentioned, I believe the best NFL comparison for Chase Edmonds is Danny Woodhead, and Edmonds might beat Woodhead today if the two were placed side by side as college players. Woodhead played for Chadron State, a DII school while Chase Edmonds plays for Fordham, a I-A school. The two players are comparable from a size perspective; Woodhead is 5'8, 200 ", Edmonds is 5'9,196 ". Woodhead outperformed Edmonds as a college player, but Edmonds has played at a higher level of competition. I think Edmonds falls into the undrafted realm, but he has the ability to make an NFL team very happy if he lands in the right system.
Chase Edmonds is a player that is not on many draft boards at this point but he is a name to watch heading into the 2018 draft. I think he plays out his eligibility and plays one final season in college. With a strong conclusion to his college career, Edmonds could find himself much higher on draft boards at that point. For now, he's one of the most overlooked prospects in college football. Right now, I believe that Chase Edmonds is a player with the talent to justify an NFL future. If you happen to be an NFL scout or team exec reading this post, I implore you. Check this kid out. You won't regret it.
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