Rookie Spotlight: Royce Freeman, University of Oregon
Height: 5’ 11’’ (unofficial)
Weight: 238 lbs (unofficial)
Hands: (to be added)
Arm: (to be added)
40 yard dash: 4.58 (projected)
NFL Comparison: Jonathan Stewart, Alfred Morris, Samaje Perine
– quick to the edge
– agile like a smaller back
– decent hands
– good balance when running
– excellent vision
– runs with power
– runs upright
– lacks explosiveness
Scouting Notes: Freeman is a scatback in a power runner’s body. He’s got quick feet and runs with steam, and though he’s capable of running through defenders he more often chooses to evade them with his keen ability to change direction while avoiding contact. Freeman knows how to wait for his blocks before he makes a cut and heads to the edge, to which he beats defenders with regularity. He seems to prefer to do this more than just run downhill at defenses, and this is why he has had success in a zone scheme but may struggle in a power running offense.
Ball security isn’t much of a plus or a minus for Freeman who had 9 fumbles in college, albeit on 1,026 career touches (including in the passing game, where he mostly caught screens out of the backfield, away from his body). He’s quick to turn upfield once the ball is in hand, resulting in positive gains more often than not.
Pass blocking comes naturally to the stout Freeman, who can stop a defender in his tracks, but run blocking is a more arduous task for him. He often goes for the outside defender, even when he isn’t the closest one. In the NFL, chances are he won’t be blocking for any runners other than himself though.
Freeman’s most obvious weakness is that he lacks breakaway speed to outrun secondaries. He just doesn’t have the acceleration or long speed, he’s likely to be a high-4.5 40-type of guy – respectable for a runner of his size but not blazing. His lateral agility to create missed tackles often makes up for this shortcoming though. He shouldn’t have trouble racking up yardage in the pros.
Fantasy Outlook: Freeman looks like a throwback to the big power runners of old, but his skill set belies that conception. He’s an elusive, edge runner who’s escapability should help keep him healthy – he only missed a few games in his college career to a lower leg injury. There are few backs that will come into the draft rated higher than Freeman, but a strong showing at the Combine and the upcoming Senior Bowl, where we’ll get an up-close look at him, may elevate his stock. As is, he could fall anywhere in rounds 2 to 5. He’s a 3-down back in the next level, as his pass-catching ability and blocking prowess in the passing game should keep him on the field.
2017 — Started in 12 games his senior season leading the team with 1,475 yards rushing, his third season with over 1,000 yards rushing, and 16 touchdowns off 244 attempts … Rushed for over 100 yards in nine out of 12 games … Also caught 14 passes for 164 yards throughout the year … Finished 10th in the country in rushing, averaging 122.9 yards per game … Opened the season rushing for over 150 yards against Southern Utah (150), Nebraska (153), and Wyoming (157) … Closed the year out on a six-game streak with at least 100 yards rushing, eclipsing the century mark against Stanford (144), UCLA (160), Utah (139), Washington (122), Arizona (135) and Oregon State (122) to give him nine 100-yard games on the year …Tied his career high in the season opener with four touchdowns against SUU off 23 carries … Accounted for four touchdowns against Arizona as well on 19 carries … Tied for 12th in the country in rushing touchdowns (16) and tied for 15th in total TDs (16) … Became Oregon’s all-time career rushing touchdown leader following his sole touchdown at Arizona State to give him 54 career rushing touchdowns … Recorded a season-high 207 all-purpose yards at Wyoming, rushing for 157 yards off 30 carries while catching one pass for 50 yards … Became UO’s all-time career rushing attempts leader earning 97 carries throughout the first four games to give him 800 career attempts … Set Oregon career rushing record and eclipsed 5,000-yard rushing mark … First Duck to go over 6,000 career all-purpose yards mark … Oregon’s all-time leader in rushing yards, all-purpose yards, rushing TDs, total TDs, points scored, 100-yard games and carries … Became the Pac-12’s all-time leading rusher after running for 122 yards on 19 carries against Oregon State … Sixth in college football history in career rushing yards … Set Pac-12 record with 64 total TDs … 10th in college football history with 60 rushing TDs … Named second-team All-Pac-12 Conference … Maxwell and Doak Walker Award semifinalist … Awarded the Kilkenny Team MVP Award as voted on by teammates … Invited to play in Reese’s Senior Bowl.