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 Oregon running back Royce Freeman.
For more on all the other backs in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft running back rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 3.
Senior | 5’11″ and 229 Pounds | Born February 24, 1996 (Age: 21) | Projection: Rounds 2-3
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.54 sec | bench reps: 17 | 3-cone: 6.9 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.16 sec | vertical: 34 in | broad: 118 in
The Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year in 2014, Freeman was so dominant in his first year at Oregon that the coaching staff shifted Byron Marshall — a 1,000-yard rusher the previous season — to wide receiver. Freeman and quarterback Marcus Mariota formed a dynamic backfield duo that led the Ducks to the College Football Championship as Freeman rushed for 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns. The next year, Freeman became the focal point of the Mariota-less offense, rushing for 1,836 yards and 17 touchdowns and chipping in 26 receptions for 348 more yards. After an injury-impacted junior campaign (in which he still had 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns), Freeman returned to form as a senior, rushing for 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns in 12 games.
Blessed with elite size and good athleticism, Freeman was a five-star recruit and one of the top high school running backs in California, rushing for 7,601 yards and 111 touchdowns. With his pedigree, physical profile, raw production, and receiving ability, Freeman is comparable to Carlos Hyde, Jordan Howard, and maybe even Leonard Fournette. One of the few backs in major college history with three 1,350-15 rushing campaigns, Freeman had a good week of practice at the Senior Bowl, which he followed up with an even better combine.
In the entire history of the NFL only two running backs to enter the NFL as top-100 picks have weighed at least 230 pounds and had at least 250 yards receiving in a college campaign: Fournette and Le’Veon Bell. For his career he caught 80 of his 89 targets. Freeman has some very underappreciated NFL potential.