In the 2016 NFL Draft, there are many running backs of all shapes and sizes. One of the under the radar backs is Brandon Wilds of South Carolina. Wilds participated in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and at the NFL Scouting Combine. Wilds was a lightly recruited 3-star prospect out of Blythewood, SC. He started the 2011 season fifth on the Gamecock’s depth chart at running back. The young man was thrust into the starting lineup against Tennessee in his freshman season, and responded with 137 rushing yards and 31 receiving yards on 31 touches. I reviewed several of his games (2015: Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Tennessee; 2014: Georgia, Florida) to get a better idea of the skills and attributes that this young man brings to the next level. These are my thoughts:
RB – Brandon Wilds, South Carolina, 6’0” 215lbs
Wilds has had multiple nagging type injuries throughout his career, limiting his productivity. He never had more than 713 scrimmage yards in any season during his career. The runner sat out the entire 2012 season with an ankle injury. In 2013, the back missed multiple games with an elbow and hamstring injury. In 2014, Wilds missed a couple of games with a shoulder injury, as well as a knee bruise. This past season, he missed three games with a broken rib. At one point, Wilds drew the ire of former South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier because he allegedly pulled himself from the lineup at the last-minute. As far as perceived game play deficiencies, Wilds is a better runner going north-south than he is east-west. The back doesn’t have breakaway speed, although he has ripped off a few big runs.
Wilds is a taller back, but he manages to keep his pad level low. He rarely takes a huge hit, because the runner gets skinny in the hole. The back has a good initial burst with better than average balance. The former Gamecock doesn’t go down with initial contact often and rarely loses yardage. He has better change of direction ability than you would think. Wilds is a solid route runner with above-average catching ability. As a pass protector, he is one of the better backs in this draft. One positive about all of the time the runner missed is that his odometer is pretty low. The first three years of his college career, he sat behind Marcus Lattimore and Mike Davis. The former Gamecock put up surprisingly good test numbers at the combine. He ran the 40 in 4.52 seconds, a vertical of 34.5”, a broad jump of 9’10”, and 21 reps of 225 pounds.
I think because of the injury list he possesses, Wilds will be drafted lower than I think the back should. I firmly believe he has NFL starter ability down the road. I think anytime on day three is when you can expect to hear his name called. The runner strikes me as a guy who will be the #3-#4 RB on a team’s roster that ends up starting a game or two late in the season after a rash of injuries (See 2015 Buffalo).
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