Football’s Future: Joe McKnight

Height: 5’11
Weight: 198
Position: Running Back
40-time: 4.47
Projection: round 3

Joe McKnight declared for the NFL draft after playing just three seasons for Pete Carroll’s Trojans. In doing so, he joins a large group of running backs vying for selection in the 2010 class. Exiting the program, he had no definitive advantage over a plethora of tailbacks appearing no different than the next. But the scouting combine provided a point of separation and opportunity to climb the board.

McKnight isn’t in direct competition with the upper tier names of C.J. Spiller, Jahvid Best or Ryan Matthews. He doesn’t project as a first-round selection, and is fighting to be among the next group of ball carriers taken in later rounds. On tape, he is a versatile player that can be a game changer in both the run and pass games. He is elusive, possesses great vision, and enough speed to convert short possessions in space into long gains for scores. With plenty of positives surrounding this future NFL back, ball security, durability, and pass blocking would be listed among the negatives.

Trojan fans often held their breaths on each McKnight possession. This came in expectation of something explosive, along with fears that he may leave the ball on the turf. Ball security also limited his play on special teams, as he also struggled to field punts before his legs could ever get in motion. But even with security issues, it wasn’t the bouncing ball that sidelined the star. Toe sprains and dislocations, chipped finger, and a hyperextended elbow disallowed periods of participation during his time at USC. He also suffers periodically from migraine headaches.

McKnight is a great third down back, when you consider the additional options he provides. But his pass protection is questionable, which would limit usage in such situations. The one area that all rookie running backs struggle with is protecting the quarterback, and this one would be no exception.

Joe McKnight arrived at USC being hailed as the next Reggie Bush. He proved to be a bit slower and a little less intimidating in some scripted matchups, but may be a better runner between the tackles. With athleticism displayed in Indianapolis this weekend, combined with a show of versatility on tape, he projects as a late second/early third-round selection. The biggest concern will be his health, and the ability to endure the weekly punishment without loss of playing time.


~ by Anthony on February 28, 2010.

One Response to “Football’s Future: Joe McKnight”

  1. Anthony – Did you read Meat Market? McKnight is very interesting. I expected more from him after his Frosh year. Was he injured a fair bit?

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