Kenyan Drake, RB Alabama
Weight: 210 lbs
40 yard dash: 4.49 (unofficial)
NFL Comparison: Darren McFadden, Charles Sims
Scouting Notes: Alabama is losing one of college football’s best backs to the 2016 draft in Derrick Henry, but a less conspicuous –though perhaps as talented– entry into the fray from the same team is the seemingly snake-bitten Kenyan Drake. Drake suffered one of the more horrific leg injuries we’ve seen in some time in 2014, breaking AND dislocating his ankle against Ole Miss. His left foot went the wrong way, as did — for the most part– his college career, as Drake came back from that injury only to befall several more in the form of a cracked rib, a sprained ankle, a concussion, a quad contusion, and most recently a broken arm in November of 2015.
An elusive yet powerful back, Drake came into the NCAA as a 4-star recruit, but Alabama’s depth at the RB position left him playing second fiddle at best in any given season. His best year was in 2013 when he had 92 carries for 694 yds and 8 TDs, averaging a phenomenal 7.5 YPC over that span. Drake’s breakaway speed and good hands have made him an asset on special teams during his time at ‘Bama as well. Some teammates have compared him to Reggie Bush with his lateral agility and penchant for finding the corner and accelerating for considerable gains, but Drake’s build, upright running style and proneness for injury remind me more of Darren McFadden. It should be said that I think Drake has better vision than the reinvigorated McFadden. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take as long to get his NFL career on track.
Upon evaluating Drake, I get the feeling his best football is ahead of him. The question is can he stay healthy for long stretches, and is he durable enough to be a 3 down back? At worst, he’s a tall 3rd down back with special teams capabilities a la Charles Sims. We’ll get a better look at Drake in the Senior Bowl.
POST-SENIOR BOWL UPDATE: Drake showed the speed and acceleration we had imagined, but had the worst week we’ve ever seen in pass protection, which will certainly lower his draft stock. The fact of the matter is that Drake is not only ineffective as a pass-protector in the backfield, he almost shows an unwillingness to even try to find work in this setting. It gives us concern because we’ve projected him to see the majority of his snaps as a passing down weapon. Unless major improvements are made as a pass-protector, he will not earn the trust of any NFL coaching staff for situations outside of the gadgety-realm to start his NFL career.