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Another surprise of mine from the Senior Bowl week was Nebraska running back, Ameer Abdullah.  He had a good week of practice, but even splashed more during the game, accounting for over aa110 total yards.  I reviewed six of his college games against USC, Rutgers, Michigan State, Illinois, Miami, and Florida Atlantic to get a better read on what he can bring to the next level and your dynasty fantasy team.

RB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska 5′ 9″ 195 lbs.

Cons: The first thing that jumped out at me is he doesn’t always pick up his feet which causes the back to get tripped up more easily.  Abdullah doesn’t have much leg power, which hurts him in short yardage situations and relies a lot on his offensive line to create open spaces.  This was very clear against Michigan State where he averaged less than three yards a carry, but found his way into the end zone twice.  I am also concerned with his ability to anchor in pass protection (legs are too far apart) so the runner gets knocked backwards.  Abdullah tries to cut down the pass rusher at the knees, while not looking very comfortable attempting to block.

Pros (rushing): Abdullah is a shifty runner with loose hips that can change directions quickly.  He possesses good balance, patience, and vision which help him find the best cut back lanes to exploit. The back protects the ball with both hands squirting thru the line of scrimmage and can change a sliver of space into daylight.  Abdullah has a natural gallop to his step, and when running inside, he seems to take what the defense gives him while running low and always falling forward.

He makes most of his impact plays on the outside with great acceleration and slipperiness while reading his blockers well.  The runner tells a story with jukes, stiff-arms, spins, hurdles, and jump cuts almost seemingly teleporting around by reversing his field.  There were a few direct snap plays where he found ways to exploit the defense.  Abdullah sells good ball fakes, and does his best to deliver as many hits as he takes.

Pros (receiving/special teams): The playmaker is dangerous in the open field returning kickoffs as he always takes good angles and refuses to go down with a simple arm tackle. Once Abdullah breaks the initial wave, the runner turns on the jets and is hard to pin down.  The runner has soft hands, uses good body control to contort to wayward passes, and remains in stride making it difficult for defenders to cover him. When Abdullah gets targeted in the flat, watch out because he always seems to make his first man miss and darts away for significant yardage. He also can line up in the slot and does well running patterns against safeties and linebackers even between two of them.

Overall thoughts:  Abdullah isn’t the biggest or fastest back in his class, but he has good hands and wiggle.  I project him as more of a change of pace/third down back much like the Patriots Shane Vereen on the upside or like 49ers Kendall Hunter on the downside.  He could still be a productive dynasty weapon depending where he lands.

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