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In the coming months, potential NFL rookies will get put under a microscope for what they do on and off the field.  Alabama’s Kenyan Drake had a spectacular kickoff return for a touchdown in kdrakethe National Championship Game that will always be remembered.  Unfortunately, that play doesn’t tell the entire story about the back.  He has some major injury and character concerns to overcome.  I reviewed his games against Wisconsin, Florida (2014 and 2015), Michigan State, Clemson, Ole Miss (2013), and the Senior Bowl (televised practices and game) to get a better handle on what he brings to the next level.

RB-Kenyan Drake, Alabama 6′ 210 lbs. 

Cons: The first question that needs to be asked for any player is “what can he do for your football team?”   Drake definitely has change of pace runner skills.  This simply means the runner struggles to run between the tackles and is more effective in space.  The space usually needs to be created for him like in the return game or type of formation (lined up beside the quarterback in shotgun or split out wide).  The back runs too high (not sinking his hips), doesn’t pick up his feet (leaves him open to ankle tackles), and gets too fast too quickly (can’t always control his direction to make adjustments to the defenders).  Drake has issues securing the pigskin, anchoring for pass blocking (probably the worst back in drills in Mobile), and rarely runs behind his pads.  Then you review his injury issues: he broke a leg (which are quite skinny) and an arm during his college career.  The runner got suspended multiple times for conduct detrimental towards the team and trying to move his vehicle that was near a crime scene.

Pros: Drake is a threat to take the rock to the house on any play he touches the ball: a kickoff, punt, reverse, jet sweep, counter, or even wheel route.  He has soft hands, uses amazing lateral agility (might be faster side to side than north and south), and can get to a third gear in the open field.  This athlete can string together a jump cut with a spin then start and stop on a dime, leaving defenders wondering what happened.  As a receiver, he gets into the flat from the backfield within a count of a thousand one (explosion) or the runner can line up in the slot or on the line in five wide sets while getting off the line of scrimmage effortlessly.  His acceleration allows him to be at full speed within two steps. Drake runs clean routes, tracks the ball well in the air and in stride.  When he acts as a returner, his vision allows him to read blocks well, find the cutback lanes, and use his burst to eat up yards in a hurry.

Overview: The former Crimson Tide member has a lot of risk due to injury and character concerns, along with his unconventional skill set for a running back.  These issues cause me to hover Drake close to my top ten rookie running back rankings (I play in PPR leagues that usually reward return yardage), but his landing spot will have a lot to do with his final ranking.  As far as comparisons, I view Kenyan Drake similar to Tampa Bay’s Charles Sims.

Thanks for reading.

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

 

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