The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on Iowa running back Akrum Wadley.
For more on all the other backs in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft running back rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 4.
Redshirt Senior | 5’10″ and 194 Pounds | Born March 13, 1995 (Age: 22) | Projection: Rounds 5-7
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.54 sec | bench reps: 12 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 32 in | broad: DNP
That Wadley was a Big Ten lead back at his size and invited to the Senior Bowl speaks to his talent. He’s unlikely ever to be an NFL workhorse, but at the Senior Bowl he reportedly beat linebackers as a receiver and perhaps could add value to an offensive unit in a pass-catching Lance Dunbar-esque role. But given that his ceiling is Dion Lewis, Wadley isn’t an incredibly intriguing or hyped prospect. He displayed below average size-adjusted athleticism in every drill he did at the combine.
After redshirting for 2013 and playing as a reserve for 2014, Wadley was a committee player for much of 2015-16, splitting carries with Jordan Canzeri and then LeShun Daniels as the change-of-pace back. Despite his size, Wadley was productive in his limited role, turning 14.0 touches into 94.6 yards and a touchdown per game.
As a senior Wadley saw his usage increase to a workhorse-like 21.5 touches per game, which he turned into an average of 112.5 yards and a touchdown. While Wadley is unlikely to be used much as a runner in the NFL, he’s an accomplished pass catcher with 64 receptions for 668 yards and six scores over the past two years. He’s one of just six major conference backs since 2000 with multiple seasons of 1,000 yards rushing, 300 receiving, and 13 scrimmage touchdowns.
- Steve Slaton, West Virginia (2006-07)
- DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma (2008, 2010)
- Giovani Bernard, North Carolina (2011-12)
- Christian McCaffrey, Stanford (2015-16)
- Saquon Barkley, Penn State (2016-17)
Have I mentioned how good Barkley is?
Wadley might be thought of best as an older, smaller, late-round version of what Bernard was as a prospect. He has the potential to be an NFL contributor, but he seems unlikely to have more than a couple seasons of fantasy relevance, especially since his combine performance likely bumped him out of the Day 2 conversation.
Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.