Scouting Report: Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

Image from the Seattle Times via Google (AP Photo/Ryan Kang, file)

Royce Freeman | 5’10 | 238 | predicted 4.54 40 by NFL Draft Scout


Context:

Games Watched:

  • @ 11 (12 at time) Washington (10-3) (PAC12) (1st in YPCa, 1st in YPGa, T-7Th in TDa)

24a / 122yds / 45.1ypc / 0 GTD -|- 1c / 0yds / 0 ATD

  • v. 18 (11 at time) Washington State (9-4) (PAC12) (55th in YPCa, 42th in YPGa, T-85st in TDa)

12a / 62yds / 5.2ypc / 0 GTD -|- 1c / 8yds / 0 ATD

  • v. Arizona (7-5) (PAC12) (87th in YPCa, 88th in YPGa, T-114th in TDa)

19a / 135yds / 5.5ypc / 4 GTD -|- 0c

  • @ Wyoming (8-5) (MW) (29th in YPCa, T-75th in YPGa, T-34th in TDa)

*30a / 157yds / 5.2ypc / 3 GTD -|- 1c / 50yds / 0 ATD *

Career Stats

Year Games Played Carries Rush Yards YPC GTDs Catches Receiving Yards TDs
2014 15 252 1365 5.4 18 16 158 1
2015 13 283 1836 6.5 17 26 348 2
2016 11 168 945 5.6 9 23 144 1
2017 12 244 1475 6.0 16 14 164 0

In 2017, he received 40% of the rushing attempts, 45% of the rushing yards, 7% of targets and receiving yards, 29% of the team’s total yards and 29% of the teams total touchdowns.

Accolades

  • 2014 PAC12 Offensive Freshman of the Year
  • 2015 PAC12 First Team RB
  • 2016 PAC12 Honorable Mention
  • 2017 PAC12 Second Team RB
  • Oregon’s career leader in rush yards

Coaching

He spent 2017 with Willie Taggart who has a history with Toby Gerhart and Marlon Mack. His OCs were Mario Cristobal and Marcus Arroyo (2015 as TB QB-C). In his freshman through junior years, his coach was current CHI OC Mark Helfrich and had 33-year vet Gary Campbell as an RB-C (retired after the season).

Injuries and workload

In 2017, he played through a shoulder injury and this was apparent in his game vs Washington State. In 2016, he missed time with a right knee injury. He does not have any bad injuries thus far, no need for major concern here aside from missing a few games in 2016. He has 947 career carries and 79 catches over his 4 years of a feature role at Oregon as the main power back. His workload is certain cause for concern, especially with his running style. Accumulating more than 6000 career yards as a downhill runner who’s primary mode of getting extra yards after contact is his shoulder gives me cause to believe that he will likely not sign a second contract with the team that drafts him and has a decent likelihood to sustain a series of small injuries that keep him to being a 12-13 games per year guy after his third or so year.


Pros:

Best: Toughness, Finishing with strength+balance, Play Strength

Freeman has good strength and frame for his playstyle as well as solid long speed and balance. He is tough and aggressive at POA and through contact. He displays solid mental processing overall. He has good to very good toughness as he blocks downfield without the ball, has a history of competing through injury, and plays at a consistent level. He rises to contact, his feet rarely stop in the whole except for vs. iDL, drives his feet until the whistle and has a high motor. His vision is solid to good displayed by him being good at finding holes and cutback lanes on Inside Zone, solid at finding holes and improvising when the play breaks down on Gap runs and has solid to good patience. His burst allows him to be solid at changing the defenders’ angles and getting as much or more than what the line blocks. He is good to very good at finishing runs and generating yards after contact, exampled by his very good ability to finish with power and balance and finishing vs all DBs, good ability to fall forward, solid to good ability to evade DL in the hole using speed and elusiveness, and solid ability to finish with power vs LBs. As a receiver, he is solid at presenting himself and his hands to the QB as a target and does not have a history of drops. Finally, as a pass protector, he displays a want to block, good ability to anchor, solid ability to ID blocking assignments and blitzers.


Cons:

Worst: Quickness/Change of direction, Play Speed, Burst

Freeman has adequate acceleration and poor agility and change of direction. He does not look or play like he is 238 pounds and I would have expected his legs to be thicker/generate more power when moving piles. In mental processing and vision, he does not appear to look off defenders to move them from the hole and he does not translate his vision to hit the hole quickly. Often I saw him get the ball, step, read, ID the hole and freeze for a second and hit it slowly. The scheme he is in does not have him run from under center or run much outside zone, both of which are crucial concepts at the next level which concerns me. In his burst, he is adequate at getting from 0-60 and 60-0, adequate at creating separation at the LOS, and does not get to top speed quickly. In his ability to finish runs, he is poor to adequate at finishing with speed and elusiveness, rarely using this to positive effect vs. DBs and solid or better LBs. He only seems to use lateral quickness to get more yards is vs. DL behind the LOS to get to the hole. In the receiving game, he is a body catcher, does not catch the ball outside of a standard catch radius (rarely extends arms to make catches), has been schemed into space and has not been given an opportunity to display the ability to create separation. This causes me to believe that the coaching staff does not believe in him to do so based on other RBs in Oregon’s system being asked to do so in the past. As a pass protector, he does not have the technique to block effectively and consistently past the initial contact, causing him to be unlikely to create more than 1 extra second for the QB. This is acceptable but, with his size and strength, I would hope an OL coach takes him in for a week and teaches him how to be a legitimate blocking weapon.


Pro Comp. and Projections:

Pro Comp:

  • Ceiling: Jeremy Hill
  • Floor: Mike Gillislee
  • Reasoning: He’s nothing special as an athlete, a viable rotational power back who can catch the ball but, not generate great YAC and be a decent blocker.

Projection:

I consider Freeman to be a backup level 3 down back or a good rotational power back and believe his current early day 3 stock to be his proper talent range. He could be an ideal fit on a team like DET or NE where they have multiple backs to cover the roles that he does not perform well in and maximize his load at 10-14 touches per game.




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