Maryland RB Davin Meggett

Davin Meggett (No.8) comes from good NFL bloodlines. But does he have NFL game? Photo by John Martinez Pavliga.

I finished studying Maryland RB Davin Meggett’s performance against the Miami Hurricanes and I discovered that someone posted all of Meggett’s touches from this game. So I’m providing my analysis of Meggett’s performance with these highlights.

When it comes to the son of the former New York Giants star, four things stand out:

  1. Meggett has enough burst to generate positive plays as a runner.
  2. Change of direction is a talent this runner uses to a fault.
  3. He has the makings of a sound pass protector.
  4. What holds him back the most is his lack of maturity with his decision-making at the end of runs.

0:05 – Meggett’s first target came on this 1st and 10 with 14:40 in the first quarter as the single back flanking the QB’s left in the shotgun from this 10 personnel 2×2 set. Meggett ran a swing route to the left flat and the target reached him low and to his back shoulder. Meggett turned back to the ball but he tried to corral the ball into his body while turning his head up field to look at the defender coming from the inside. Meggett dropped the ball when he didn’t look the ball all the way into his hands and body.

0:12 – Meggett’s first carry was this 11-yard gain on 2nd and 10 from an 11 personnel, 2×1 Pistol with Meggett behind and to the left of the QB with 14:36 in the first quarter. The offense executed a zone read to the right side with the C-RG double-teaming the RDT. Meggett immediately bounced the run to right end because he felt the penetration from the LDT as he took the exchange.

He did a good job of putting his foot in the ground and making a sharp lateral cut to elude the defender. Meggett got a good block from the slot receiver so he could turn the corner at the right hash, accelerating past the linebacker as he turned up the flat inside of the WR split wide right.

Meggett tried to dip inside the safety as he crossed the first down marker, but the safety leveled Meggett with a hard shoulder. The RB immediately fell on his rear end and lost his helmet. It was a perfect shot in terms of the defender getting a solid hit with the shoulder. However, you’re going to see a small pattern as this game progresses that reveals Meggett has difficulty fighting for those extra yards that he should win in these one-on-one battles.

0:33 –  Meggett’s second target resulted in a seven-yard gain on 2nd and 10 with 13:34 in the first quarter from  this 1×2 receiver, 11 personnel pistol set. Meggett was a little bit behind and to the right of the QB versus a defense playing nickel. The QB changed the play before the snap to line up under center with Meggett as the single back seven yards from center.

Meggett took the run fake to left guard and then broke to the left flat. His break was good in the sense that he worked back towards the line of scrimmage as he broke outside. He caught the ball just behind the line of scrimmage by trapping the ball to his chest. He turned outside, got a block on the inside pursuit and then dipped outside the cornerback to the boundary, running out of bounds after gaining seven yards. He carried the ball under his inside (right) arm on this play to the left sideline.

0:39 –  Meggett was dragged down from behind on a spread read towards left guard on 3rd and 8 with 13:01 in the first quarter. The backside penetration reached Meggett and wrapped the RB from behind just as he was setting up the C-LG doubleteam on the LDT. Meggett did not show the leg strength on this play that he appears to have; he was unable to keep his legs moving to run through this wrap. 

0:55 – Meggett’s third target was a 4th and 8 pass play with 12:40 in the first quarter, resulting in a 10-yard gain and a first down. Meggett flanked the QB’s right side from a 3×1, 11 personnel set with the TE and two receivers bunched to the formation’s right side. The QB checked down to Meggett while under pressure, reaching the RB with a high throw. Meggett reached over his head and caught the ball with his hands about two yards past the line of scrimmage deep in the right flat. He was able to beat the CB to the right sideline for the first down and a few more yards.

1:00 – His third attempt resulted in no gain on a 1st and 10 play with 12:08 in the first quarter from an unbalanced line as the single back from a 12 personnel set just outside the Miami 10 yard-line. The QB pitched the ball to Meggett with the line running a toss sweep to the strong side (right). Meggett tried to cut back to the inside as he reached the flat and he cut directly into penetration for no gain. He had dipped inside the pulling RG and tried to cut behind the pulling center, but he was met in the backfield by the SLB and WLB coming from either side. You will begin to notice a trend with Meggett, which is his lack of mature decision making that his necessary to finish runs effectively. While it is debatable that Meggett could have earned more yardage to the outside he had better blocks set up down field in the flat. He also has shown the burst to beat pursuit at the second level. I think Meggett had a better chance to stay on course to the outside. Even of the linebacker that tackled Meggett just after the RB cut inside could have made the tackle in the flat, Meggett probably gains a few more yards. If Meggett breaks the tackle, his down field blocks were good enough to pave the way for a touchdown.

1:07 –  Meggett was targeted on 2nd and 4 with 9:41 in the first quarter from a 10 personnel, 1×3 receiver shotgun set. Meggett released from the right side of the QB to the right flat, but the QB threw the ball low and away from the RB, incomplete.

1:16 – Meggett’s next run was a 1st and 10 gain of five yards with 8:55 in the first quarter from a 12 personnel, 1×1 single back set versus a 4-3. Meggett took the ball towards the C-LG double team and then cut it to the RG-RT double team, weaving around the C’s right shoulder and dipping inside towards the RG to cross the line of scrimmage and finish with his pads low to earn the five-yards. Good read and quickness to bend the run to the open spot. If Meggett can make it a more consistent habit to run downhill and avoid the desire to reverse his field or risk that second big cutback, there’s some potential to develop into a solid between the tackles runner.

1:22 – Two plays later, Meggett gained two yards on 1st and goal from the Miami three yard-line from a 22 personnel set with the FB offset to the left. They ran off guard behind the TE motioning to the strong side and Meggett pressed the inside with a stutter step before bouncing the run to left end. He showed some quickness and was just beginning to accelerate between defenders when he was hit and dropped  outside the one yard-line with 7:45 in the first quarter. The burst is noticeable, but the timing on this play to start his burst was not good enough.

1:32 – He gained 16 yards on a 2nd and 10 2×1, 11 personnel pistol formation with 14:43 in the half. Meggett flanked the QB’s right side and took the exchange on this zone read behind the pulling LG, bouncing the play to right end and then making a second bend to the right flat that he executed with good quickness to get behind his WR’s block at the right hash. This was a good example of how to use multiple changes of direction – more subtle changes where he doesn’t have to completely change the direction of his run and lose his momentum.

He accelerated past the CB in pursuit, slipping that CB’s wrap attempt to reach the first down marker before running out of bounds just as the safety wrapped his legs. Good use of his inside arm to ward off the CB’s hands to run past the defender although it wasn’t a stiff arm and the contact was minimal.

1:59 – He gained seven yards on the next play a 10 personnel, 3×1 pistol set versus nickel with 14:38 in the half. He dipped inside the C on a C-RG double team and ran low enough to squeeze through the hole for the gain. He did a good job staying low and running behind his pads in this tight space. He also made a sharp cut downhill to get inside the C on the play.

2:04 –  He only gained a yard on the following play on a spread read where the carry was designed to go behind the LG-C double team, but Meggett was wrapped by the LDE coming down the line. Meggett looked further inside before the wrap, but there was good defensive penetration into the backfield that limited Meggett’s choices. He did a good job trying to turn his back to the defender and use his legs to drive forward, but he was unable to maintain his balance or he lacked the strength to back his way through the wrap for extra yardage.

2:11 – The QB threw the ball behind and just a little over the outstretched fingertips of Meggett on a 1st and 10 swing pass deep in Maryland’s territory. Pass attempt was technically a lateral for a 12-yard loss because the pass was behind the line of scrimmage.

2:19 –  Meggett gained three yards on a 1st and 10 play with 8:30 in the half after consecutive passes down the middle of the field for the offense. Megget was the single back from this 2×2, 10 personnel set. Meggett stretched the play to RG and the dipped behind the LG’s inside shoulder to gain three yards. His dip to the inside was a stop-start type of move. He read the LB coming inside from the flat, which cut off the lane to the outside and forced Meggett inside. One has to question Meggett’s decision here because he had a blocker to take on this LB and the amount of time to stop and start back in another direction didn’t yield much when Meggett could have used this blocker to set up a change of direction in more open field.

2:26 – Meggett gained another three yards on 1st and 10 with 6:49 in the half on a zone read from an 11 personnel set designed to go behind the TE-LT double-team. But Meggett bounced the run from inside the LT all the way to right end. He tried to set up the LB to cut inside the defender, but he was wrapped up.

I’m not enamored with his decision-making because he doesn’t consistently see the course with run blocking and he will make decisions late in his runs where he limits his gains in an attempt to break an even bigger play. For instance on this run, the attempt to cut inside gave the defense an easier tackle rather than continuing outside and forcing his opposition to run hard to catch him and likely for a bigger gain of 4-6 yards.

2:39 – Meggett gained five yards from a zone read from 10 personnel 3×1 flanking the three-receiver side with 3:59 in the half. The C-RG double-teamed the RDT and Meggett bounced the run outside RT when the RDE got good inside penetration on the RT and nearly got into the backfield. As Meggett bounced the run outside and reached the flat about two yards past the line of scrimmage he then slowed down and dipped back to the inside because the LB had the angle to the flat. Meggett was able to reverse his field and bounce the run back to the left end for another two yards. However, this was exactly the type of decision I described earlier where he cost himself potential yards trying to make a bigger play with his change of direction rather than finishing strong and possibly breaking a tackle.

2:48 – Nice over the shoulder catch of the swing pass with his hands. This is the kind of potential Maggett has as a third down receiver. He just needs to be more consistent using his hands rather than his body to secure the ball. Although not shown in this highlight package, Meggett consistently did a good job widening the pocket and making solid cut blocks of defenders. He was quick, accurate, and able to knock the opposition off their feet.

2:55 – Meggett’s first carry of the third quarter was a seven-yard gain on 2nd and 10 with 9:54 in the third quarter from a 1×2 11 personnel pistol set against a 4-3 defense. Meggett got a nice hole outside the LG who came off the LG-C double team of the LDT to seal the MLB and open a lane in the belly of the defense. Meggett burst through that crease, outrunning an attempt at his legs by penetration until he stumbled to the ground after seven yards. He stumbled trying to set up another change of direction. He carried this ball to the left side under his right arm. I have not seen Meggett use his left arm to carry the ball once in this game.

3:00 – Meggett gained 12 yards on a 3rd and 13 pass play with 8:18 in the third quarter from a 10 personnel, 3×1 shotgun set with Megget flanking the one-WR side of the formation against nickel. Meggett ran a circle route to the left flat, just missing his chip of the LDE and catching the ball against his chest about three yards past the line of scrimmage. He turned up field and dipped outside the pursuing LB. He was hit a yard behind the line of scrimmage by the DB, losing his helmet and not showing the pad level or power to squeeze under the contact to get that extra yard. He also carried this ball under his inside arm after the catch. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of confidence in his power. Otherwise, he might have cut inside the initial defender so he could continue running downhill rather than veering to the outside. 

3:13 – Meggett took a pitch to the two-WR side, catching the ball seven yards behind the line of scrimmage and using his burst to beat the pursuit for the gain. He ran through a hit to his ankles to continue forward another 2-3 yards before falling to the ground.

3:19 – Meggett gained five yards and a first down on 2nd and 4 from a 10 personnel, 2×2 shotgun set with 7:01 in the third quarter. He was the third option on the play and he did a good job turning back to the QB on his swing route at the right sideline to make a good target for the QB on the run. He caught the ball against his body and fell out of bounds a couple of yards past the first down marker.

3:33 – This was a well-blocked, 10-yard run. The play was a 1st and 10 attempt from single back, 10 personnel, 2×2 set where the LT and LG cleared the defensive line to the inside and Meggett took the delay untouched through that open area.

3:36 – He showed some patience on a strong side pitch for four yards, dipping inside a block he pressed outside before getting wrapped up. If he was able to run through the hit to his ankles and maintain his balance, Meggett could have had a much bigger gain.

3:47 – His third carry was a one-yard gain on 2nd and 4 where weaved around penetration up the middle before he wrapped and hit on the final play of the third quarter.

3:54 –Here was a good example of his ability to hustle to the edge and execute a sound cut block on a play action pass where the run action took Meggett to LG but he had to work back to right end to execute the block. Note how he widened the defender’s path and then shot for the legs.

4:09 – Meggett followed his pulling LT up RG with good patience, but he ran into the back of his own man at the second level when he saw the safety coming for him over top. Meggett should have continued to take the run outside or take on the safety, but he dipped back to the inside and had to attempt to leapfrog his teammate, limiting the gain to seven yards.

4:17 – He followed his run with a red zone run on 2nd and 3 of four yards and a first down from a 11 personnel shotgun 1×2 receiver set that incorporated the same pulling LT and Meggett followed his pulling blocker through the same hole until he was dragged down at the legs. He does understand how to follow the initial run scheme, but he has to curb his tendency to freelance.

4:23 – Meggett lost three yards two plays later on a 2nd and goal from the Miami six yard line because he tried to bounce the run to right end when there wasn’t a wide crease and the defense stretched out the run for a loss.

Strengths: Meggett does a pretty solid job of protecting the passer. He knows his assignments and he works hard to get to the edge rushers, widen the pocket, and cut the opponent to the ground. As a runner he shows the speed and burst to get into the second level and accelerate into the third level.

He can change direction with sharp turns and bends away from defenders and he appears big enough to break tackles when running down hill. He can get his pads low and get small enough to squeeze through creases and avoid hits to get extra yardage between the tackles. There’s some physical potential here as a future NFL runner but based on what I saw today, I think he lacks the decision making and determined running style to earn consideration as anything more than a third down back. The nice thing is he has the size and burst to surprise if he corrects his deficiencies, which could make him a decent late-round selection.

Weaknesses: Meggett frequently tries too hard to make a second or third cut on a run where it would be wiser for him to use his speed or pad level to force opponents to work harder to bring him down. Instead that second or third cut often results in a shortened play and easier tackle. Meggett can catch the ball away from his body with his hands, but when the ball is thrown near his body he will allow the ball close and make the trap.

He also has occasional lapses in concentration where he tries to look at the defender down field rather than look the ball into his hands before looking down field. Meggett has the listed size and muscle definition in his legs and trunk that you want to see from a back with good balance and power, but I didn’t see him break tackles or really push the pile in this game. His ball security tends to be solid, but he only carried the ball under his right arm in the game.

Overall: This was just one game, but if Meggett shows similar strengths and weaknesses in other performances then he looks like the type of player capable of earning a camp invite. However, there’s a wide range of potential for Meggett because he possesses the physical skill to play running back. It’s the decision-making that is the greatest concern. When a running back like Jamaal Charles or LeSean McCoy tried to outrun and out cut college opponents they were mostly successful. They also made smarter choices even when relying upon their athleticism. Meggett is making more blatantly poor choices even for the college game. It’s a concern that could really hold back his game.

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