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Sunday, May 11, 2014

205: Tyler Gaffney, RB

For the second year in a row, Carolina threw in a RB pick at the end of the draft.

Ultra-productive Tyler Gaffney of Stanford is this year's edition, and unlike the Kenjon Barner pick of last year, he's not going to be called anything remotely like Darren Sproles.  However, unlike either player, he's not a specialist, he's an all-around player.  5'11, 220, he lacks top end speed and agility (the 4.49 40 is more than good enough, and he did very well in the shuttle and vertical, but less so on the broad jump.  I can't tell you much of what that's supposed to translate to, but the vertical and change of direction ones have a clear purpose), but does it all on the field.

 He's a good inside and outside runner, a good pass blocker in a complex system (more about that in a second), and a good receiver.  He has a compact build for a bigger back, who doesn't look like a 220 lb back, but runs like one.  He shrugs off tacklers, will drive for an extra yard, will give up the body for an extra yard.

He can handle a workload, and did so after a year off (baseball).  He seems to be able to pickup the game again quickly, and going to Stanford suggests he's not stupid.

As a bonus, the offense he played in?  It's Carolina's offense (people attribute Harbaugh as WCO and it's clearly not). I didn't throw it into Turner's bio, but Cam Cameron's is obviously the same offense, too.

This kid reminds me of a more polished Nick Goings.  Goings did it all (though Gaffney is slight to be a backup FB) when asked, and sat behind some better players.  Same for Anthony Johnson.  There are plenty of league-wide options for backs who do the dirty work without getting feature carries, and I don't know if that's Gaffney's lot in life - he could be the 2016 starter.  And, I don't know if he'll be a special teamer, or whether he'll be a good one.  I've only seen him as a scrimmage player.  I compare him to Goings and Johnson as guys who answered the bell when they needed, even though they weren't plan A (both were more plan C).  To be more fair, he's got a bit of Jonathan Stewart in him, too. He's physically like Curtis Martin.  But those two extremes notwithstanding, RBs are always full of talent and possibility, and no comparison is ever just.  He's not likely a future hall of famer, but he has talent and seemed to be worth more than a 6th.

 But in the meantime, Gaffney's going to be a highly productive backup when asked, the question is simply when he'll be asked.
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