Photo via Cincinnati Athletics

PRO 2022 Rookie Spotlight: Jerome Ford, RB Cincinnati

Rookie Spotlight: Jerome Ford, Cincinnati (Photo via Cincinnati Athletics)
Height: 5’ 11”
Weight: 210 lbs
Hands: 9 1/8”
Arm: 30 5/8”
40 yard dash: 4.46
Age: 23
NFL Comparison: Kareem Hunt, Ke’Shawn Vaughn

College Production (Final Season)
48% team rushes
8% team receptions
26% total team yards
40% total team TDs

– Plays with good burst and explosion
– Powerful for his size
– Decisive runner
– Rarely goes down on first contact
– Nose for the end-zone
– Capable pass-catcher
– Impressive long speed
– Always finishes runs
– Can fit into any scheme
– Dependable at the goal line

– Not a creative runner
– Can sometimes run into his blocks
– Undisciplined blocker
– Not a natural pass-catcher despite being somewhat productive in that area
– Was not impressive during his shortened time at Senior Bowl practices (birth of child)
– Needs to work on ball security (6 lost fumbles at Cincy)

Scouting Notes:
A former Crimson Tide back, who unfortunately found himself mired behind the likes of Damien Harris, Najee Harris, Josh Jacobs and Brian Robinson, Ford transferred to Cincinnati where he could actually get on the field. He scored 8 TDs his first season in Cincinnati, though he only started one game, and thereafter became the Bearcats’ bellcow in 2021. He scored 19 rushing TDs that season, a school record and a mark good enough for 7th in the FBS. Ford plays like he was shot out of a cannon most of the time, accelerating headlong through the line of scrimmage into the open field where he careens off or runs through tackles, eventually ending his runs by falling forward. Sometimes his decisiveness as a runner lands him up against his blockers, but for the most part Ford’s initial intent brings about positive yardage for the average sized but powerful runner. Ford is capable of being patient and running the ball outside, but he’s more effective through the hole. Ford’s running style could be described as erratic at times, as he doesn’t often seem to have a plan once he gets to the second level of play, but he does keep his momentum going all the same. As a pass-catcher, Ford has shown to be more than capable despite not being a natural receiver. His route tree was simplistic at Cincinnati, and much of his receiving action came through checkdowns, but I think Ford can improve his lot through training. Ford can stand to work on his blocking as well – He’s often upended and doesn’t always seem to know what his assignments are, though he’s willing and proves to be a useful chipper on occasion. On the whole, Ford is explosive, powerful and fast but a little rough around the edges. If he can hone in on some of the workable weak spots, Ford can become a 3-down back in due time.

Fantasy Outlook:
Ford is extremely versatile, offering value as a between the tackle, goal line back and as a spry 3rd down option as well. There are some bigger backs with more production to their names in the draft, but if Ford had been in the same program for his college career, we’d be talking about him in the same breath. A fit for any scheme, Ford should be an early day 3 pick at worst in the draft. Ford’s versatility could also spell his doom in the NFL, as he doesn’t necessarily demand a 2-down role. A team with a strong inside runner would be happy to use Ford as a complimentary or 3rd down back. If Ford finds himself in a weak backfield though, it would be hard to get him off of the field. I don’t mind taking Ford as your first back in dynasty if you’re drafting at the back end of the first round, and the usual suspects are gone — although, you can probably hold off until you’re late-second in many dynasty rookie drafts. He offers considerable upside and comes with a decent floor, as he should find the field early and often if he falls to a good situation.

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