'Why J.K. Dobbins?'
Dobbins opting not to participate in drills at the NFL Combine has raised questions on his athletic measurables.
However, Dobbins has an overall game that reaches far beyond the surface-level.
What will NFL teams be looking at with the former Buckeye?
1 - Single step efficiency
This is an important aspect of Dobbins' game, and is an element that can immediately translate to success in the right NFL system.
Watch the single step plant off the inside edge of his right foot to propel him immediately into acceleration.
Dobbins is best when he quickly diagnoses a lane and gets downhill.
While he does not have a dynamic lateral skill set, he does possess the ability to appear at the second level quicker than most because of how well he accelerates off of a singular plant.
We know that Dobbins is an back that can get downhill in a hurry, but he also shows the ability to redirect during early acceleration.
He is an economical, downhill runner that can have consistent success in a zone heavy scheme.
2 - Variation in short areas
Dobbins undoubtedly benefitted from read option concepts & a solid offensive ecosystem at Ohio State.
The question I ask myself when players come from great programs is:
“Can they win on their own?”
- #16 initially projects inside, muddies decision to immediately take cutback lane
- Dobbins manipulates the safety (#18) into an over-pursuit
- Drops his angles to push upfield & by #18
- Recognizes pursuit and accelerates into a curve-linear pattern.
Yes, having a mobile quarterback like Justin Fields helped open up lanes on zone read concepts, however Dobbins has proven to have advanced movement skills and the instincts to go along with them.
Dobbins reacts efficiently during unplanned engagements.
This is indicative of him being able to process information in succession while coupling that with an economical solution.
One of the best short-area movers in the class.
Early on in Dobbins career you could tell he was an NFL caliber running back.
What drew me to his game when he was a Freshman at Ohio State was watching how quickly, and efficiently he got to the second level.
3 - Economy of movement
Watch how Dobbins manipulates #10 into chasing boundary opportunity.
Dobbins varies his pace nicely, reads #10’s angles taking momentum towards the boundary, then cuts upfield and away from the defense.
When we watching Dobbins, he continually demonstrates unique tools that allow him to win in-gap, and at the line of scrimmage.
Notice how he dips his shoulder and uses that leverage as an aid through contact.
Dobbins falls under the category of 'economical' when we talk about economical & dramatic movement skills.
This is where Dobbins is at his best in one on one engagements.
No excess movement, quick flash of boundary opportunity then propels into acceleration after step 2 of the engagement.
An opposite back movement wise would be D'Andre Swift, who is the most 'dramatic' mover at the running back position in this 2020 class.
4 - Play speed
Not be able to run the 40 yard dash at the NFL combine, may have hurt Dobbins stock a bit, but was also smart to not risk further injury to his ankle.
There are no questions that he has above adequate play speed, and more than likely would have clocked in around 4.45s.
Dobbins is much better during acceleration, and does have trouble maintaining max velocity over distances longer than 40 yards.
No room to concern about Dobbins' explosive qualities. Lack of being able to 'hold his speed' will not have a large impact on his success at the NFL level.
5 - Physicality
Dobbins is nowhere near a bruiser, but at 5'9" 209lbs he can pack a punch.
Watch him slide step, and then bury the defender with a stiff-arm.
Dobbins sports high levels of functional strength in a dense, and compact frame.
His 23 reps on the bench press in Indianapolis show up on the field of play.
Impressed with how he redirects #27 to gain a couple of extra yards.
The squatted style Dobbins runs with allows him to weaponize his leverage against defenders.
Dobbins has underrated finishing ability and runs with great pad level.
6 - Skill set as a receiver
Dobbins is a versatile receiver who has made impact plays from multiple alignments and at different levels of the field.
One of the better receiving backs in this class, who is a threat to create after the catch.
Angle routes are an area where Dobbins can succeed as a receiver at the NFL level.
We have seen his ability to get into acceleration quickly which makes Dobbins a potential mismatch for linebackers.
7 - Poor 2nd level decision making
When Dobbins rids economy from initial engagement, success isn’t as consistent due to deceleration becoming imminent. (Slows continuation of momentum)
This play doesn't go for a big gain at the NFL level.
We see economy of movement as a big part of Dobbins' skillset, but in one on one engagements there are occasions where we see him leave yards on the field.
At times, we see Dobbins having difficultly changing directions post-initial acceleration.
Once he gets past second level he has a limited toolbox as a mover.
8 - Landing spot: Baltimore Ravens
Dobbins had one of my favorite spots for running backs, because of how well he fits the Ravens zone read-heavy run scheme.
He has scheme familiarity. Running zone reads frequently at Ohio State and now gets the best running quarterback of our generation. Dobbins could very well blossom into the RB1 of this talented 2020 class.
9 - 'Who is J.K. Dobbins?'
Dobbins has the chance to be an impact player for an NFL offense in need of a back with a multi-dimensional skill set. His ability to be an effective pass catching option will keep him on the field during third downs. During the 2019 season Dobbins had 7 games over 170 total yards with 3 of those games crossing the 200 yard barrier.
Dobbins has solid instincts, runs with purpose and fits best in a zone-blocking scheme. He has the quickest first step of any back in this class, and as far as limitations go, he is a limited lateral mover once he gets past the 2nd level. His above average ability during early acceleration covers up some of those limitations when he maintains economy.
For fantasy purposes, Dobbins has the chance to carve out a sizable role as a pass catcher in the early stages in his career which boosts his PPR stock. His rushing upside will depend on his workload, but his versatility could put him in the RB2 range with upside for more as his touches increase.
Single step efficiency
Limited lateral skill set