Fresh off of a BCS National Championship, Devonta Freeman is preparing to make the next step in his football career and enter the NFL.
Freeman received a third-round grade from an NFL Draft Advisory Board after leading Florida State with 1,016 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns this season, all while splitting backfield duties with two other backs. He was the first running back to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the Noles since Warrick Dunn did so in 1996. He also hauled in 22 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown en route to earning all-ACC honors.
Freeman isn’t the flashiest back, but he was the most consistent performer for Florida State last season. He’s quick and, as his numbers prove, a weapon in the passing game. CBS Sports draft analyst Rob Rang likened the 5-foot-8 Freeman to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, as both players play with a low center of gravity, have shifty feet, and a whole lot of power.
Freeman is ranked as the No. 7 running back in this year’s class, according to CBS Sports, and the No. 14 by ESPN. Carlos Hyde, Ka’Deem Carey, Jeremy Hill, Tre Mason, Bishop Sankey, and Charles Sim are stand ahead of Freeman in CBS Sports’ rankings, while ESPN’s list also includes Andre Williams, Charles Sims, Dri Archer, Storm Johnson, James White, as well as Freeman’s teammate, James Wilder Jr.
The 2014 running back class is certainly not as strong as it has been in recent years, and after the top prospects — Hyde, Mason, Carey and Sankey — it may just come down to a crapshoot when the other backs come off the board, with running style perhaps playing in the biggest role in which teams go after which backs.
A number of teams are in need of complementary backs this offseason, including the Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Texans. The Browns were forced to scramble for backfield options after trading away Trent Richardson, while the Titans are reportedly planning to cut Chris Johnson, leaving a major void at the position. The Jags need to lessen the workload of veteran Maurice Jones-Drew, if he stays in Jacksonville, and the Texans will likely lose Ben Tate in free agency, and Arian Foster battled injuries all of last year.