Royce Freeman – Oregon
RB 5’11” 229 lbs
Royce Freeman has been on the radar of dynasty owners since posting a 1,300 yard season as a freshman in 2014. Although a junior-year knee injury tempered expectations, Freeman put up solid numbers again at Oregon in 2017.
At 5’11” and 229 pounds, Freeman is prototypically sized for an early down NFL back. He has good vision on runs up the middle, picking through defenders and waiting for his blockers to open holes. Freeman’s vision is especially noticeable on short-yardage carries. He is decisive, rarely dancing, and hits holes with a deceptively quick acceleration. Once he is hit, Freeman has plenty of balance and power to keep runs heading for positive gains; his legs never stop churning. Although not something you would associate with a back of his size, Freeman has very good straight line speed, and he also uses angles well to stay ahead of pursuing defenders. If a blocker can spring him on a diagonal lane, Freeman can be explosive to the outside.
Freeman’s decisiveness can also be his biggest weakness; instead of waiting for a hole to open up a seven yard run, Freeman will sometimes take the quick three yards. His pass catching is limited, but he is adequate on screens and dump-offs. (However, because Freeman wasn’t utilized much in the passing game, he’s prone to mental gaffes like forgetting to slip into the flat after chipping a defender. Freeman needs to be running north/south to be effective and gets himself into trouble when trying to get to the outside.
Ultimately, situation will matter a lot for Royce Freeman. He would be ideally suited to a team like Detroit, Oakland, or Cleveland where there is an early down role alongside an established receiving back. Freeman could be a late 2nd Round steal in rookie drafts.