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The 2016 NFL Draft is full of talented players, but maybe one of the least discussed is junior runner Jordan Howard.  Perhaps it’s due to my University of Michigan homer-ism, but I came away impressed with the three games I watched:  Michigan, Florida International, and a 2014 game against Southern Mississippi.  The back transferred to Indiana for his junior season after playing his first two seasons for Alabama-Birmingham (UAB discontinued their football program after 2014 season). 

RB Jordan Howard, Indiana 6’1″ 230 lbs.

Cons: Howard only has one year of decent college competition in the Big Ten.  In his UAB years, he was the entire program accumulating 315 touches in his sophomore season. There were many games where the runner excelled, but against Ohio State the back only mustered 14 carries for 34 yards.  Yes, Howard injured his ankle during that game, but this was a very poor showing playing against four or five top ranked defensive players in his class. After four games returning from that ankle injury, the back suffered lower leg issues and missed his final two college games.  He was not very involved as a receiver in the passing game with only eleven receptions as his high mark for a season (junior year at Indiana).  Scoring in his final college season was very hot or cold (three games with two or more touchdowns and four games without one). Can Howard keep up with the physicality of the NFL?

Pros:  The runner has a great combination of balance, power, and pad level that dominates the line of scrimmage.  He is a battering ram that gets his shoulders square before smashing into the heart of the defense using good body lean.  These violent collisions take their toll on defenses and unfortunately the back as well.  Howard is a rhythm runner that excels when fed the ball (he had three games with 30+ carries averaging 200 yards for each game).

He is a willing runner between the tackles who keeps his legs churning, falls forward, and can get small in the hole even in short yardage situations.  Howard has good vision that he uses to follow blockers and helps him make good decisions along with patience.  Don’t think of Howard as just a plodder though.  This back can make his first man miss, uses jumps cuts, and finds the cut-back making him quite dangerous in the open field.  The runner has loose hips and combines them with his quick feet to create space along with a mean stiff-arm.  Howard is less refined in the passing game, but anchors well and attacks pass rushers.  He also offers flexibility taking direct snaps out the shotgun.

Outlook:  Draftniks are all over the place with their ranking of him.  I see Howard as a Michael Turner type runner aka powerful back with quick feet.  He has the goods to be a top six rookie back this year if he goes to a good spot.  Continue to watch the situation until after the NFL Draft. Thanks for reading.

You can follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley or at the site @Dynasty_Blitz. 

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