Scouting Report: Donnel Pumphrey

San Diego State
Running Back #19
Senior 5’9″ 180


  • Has been featured in the slot multiple times; has 98 career receptions for 1,013 yards and five touchdowns
  • Impeccable health sustainability having played or started in every game of his career
  • Unparalleled career may build on his draft value
  • Ultimate play-speed back who displays good burst though holes
  • Lowers pads through contact and runs with a good forward lean, highlighting his tough, competitive nature
  • Balanced runner who runs with a naturally low center-of-gravity and finishes through arm tackles
  • Shifty runner with fluid hips and properly-timed cuts
  • Shows a great feel in the passing game with quickness out of his breaks and soft hands
  • Possesses tremendous instincts and feel in space
  • Utilizes fast feet and hips in conjunction to eliminate angles and escape short areas
  • Confident runner who trusts what he sees and gets downhill immediately before accelerating past the second level
  • Can effectively manipulate his speed to allow blocking to develop
  • Terrific vision to quickly identify cut back opportunities and closing lanes


  • Frame and build are serious question marks as both do not support the notion that he can be a three-down, feature back
  • Such build has already logged more than 1,100 touches from scrimmage
  • Lack of size and play strength are cause for concern in pass protection at the next level
  • Questionable long speed that may not turn many medium gains into long runs
  • Will try to do more than is asked of him, vacating his designated path and typically running to closed lanes
  • Occasionally shows indecisiveness and lack of patience in the hole
  • Too often brought down by ankle tackles

Pumphrey is without a question the most decorated back in this year’s draft class, compiling more than 7,000 career yards and 66 touchdowns from scrimmage featuring three straight seasons with more than 2,000; his 6,290 rushing yards and 61 rushing touchdowns rank third and ninth respectively, but he is just 126 yards from scrimmage shy from surpassing Ron Dayne’s all-time mark of 7,429.

When it comes to any one player’s evaluation of production, numbers only hold their value when contextualized-and consistent. Certainly some won’t find complete credence in the numbers due to the Mountain West opponents Pumphrey played, but he managed to gash Cal this year for 281 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries this year, all before losing steam at the end of the season: he only averaged 3.9 yards a carry over his final three games. Consider last season as well when he averaged a mere four and 3.1 yards per carry against Cal and Penn State respectively, numbers that don’t for once detract what he’s accomplished in four years, but ought to be evaluated on a deeper level.

The senior runner possesses innate physical traits that separate him from other runners, particularly in his feet and hips, both offering speed and twitch that work in unison. The biggest question is obviously his build; while he has managed to stay (relatively) healthy against 1,100 career touches, it’s clearly a different matter when running between the tackles at the next level. His patience, vision, low center-of-gravity and burst will allow him to succeed in a power/gap scheme that requires those up front to generate movement through pulls, traps, kick outs and down blocks. In turn, this allows Pumphrey to capitalize on said traits before accelerating downhill. That same vision, coupled with his ability to drop his hips and accelerate out of cuts, will also serve him well in a zone scheme, but he will need to shore up his indecisiveness to thrive in outside zone concepts.

Round Value: 4th

There are a lot of great backs in this class, and Pumphrey will be best served as a change-of-pace, scat back with a role in the slot, but he doesn’t possess the requisite physical traits to evolve into a lead back.

NFL Comparison: Akeem Hunt

Both backs are eerily similar in terms of build, quickness, shiftiness, strength, explosiveness, and feel in space.

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