I watched Ed Wesley this time last week, presuming he would be playing another year. A few days later, he applied for the NFL’s supplemental draft. Wesley was a rising senior at Texas Christian and in a committee situation with fellow runners Waymon James and Matthew Tucker. He’s a 5’9″, 200-pound runner with potential to develop into a better player at his position. In this final game versus Louisiana Tech, I saw more areas he needed to work on than areas where he shined.
As most of you following this blog know, all of my conclusions are based on play-by-play analysis. I may decide to give some play-by-play break down of Wesley before the draft, but in case I don’t here is a short summary of what I saw from the Horned Frogs runner.
Wesley has enough size, strength, and initial burst to hit holes with authority, bounce off hits, and gain yardage after contact. he has a good feel for blocks and he can work off this linemen to get positive yards. He as the agility to spin away from defenders, but the strength to keep his legs moving to drive forward after contact.
When he consciously lowers his pads, he can finish runs with good pad level and body lean. I like his burst through the hole when he’s decisive about getting his pads downhill and splitting a crease at the line of scrimmage. As a receiver, he looks the ball into his hands. He didn’t return punts in this game, but he has experience in this aspect of the game.
Wesley can rely too much on his quickness. He’ll try to bounce runs outside in situations where down and distance and/or field position makes the reward not worth the risk for his team. He is no longer the best athlete on the field like he might have been in high school and if he hopes to make it in the NFL, he needed to accept that reality yesterday.
This running back has to do a much better job of keeping his pad level low. He has the strength to run through a head-on collision with a defender, but his leverage isn’t good enough to do it on a consistent basis. The reason is that he runs too high into contact and then tries to bounce off the hit to the outside.
Because he thinks he’s quick enough to avoid contact, he’s not running as if he’s prepared to deal with it. When that contact arrives, he’s pushed backwards way too often than what one should expect from a productive college football running back. There were several examples in this game where Wesley would have been able to dip through much of the contact of a hit or run through or over the defender if his pads were lower.
Wesley’s style is often predictable in nature. He likes to spin off contact and a large percentage of runs I saw in this game, he used this same move over and over. This isn’t a death knell for running back prospects – Rashard Mendenhall’s spin move is a predictable stylistic feature of his game. However, he also runs with much better pad level. Mendenhall is also stronger and faster than Wesley.
Although Wesley can catch the football, he has concentration issues. He looks the ball into his hands, but doesn’t look his hands into his body to fully secure the ball before he begins to run. This led to a drop in this game.
Without seeing Wesley pass protect, I’d say the TCU runner has the basic skills to compete for a reserve role if he can develop greater consistency with his pad level, decision-making, and receiving. He had some shoulder issues last year and he’s leaving for the NFL to presumably take care of his family. I don’t know the personal reasons for his decision, but his skills don’t distinguish him from the running backs we saw drafted in April. I think he’ll need to show some special teams skill as a tackler and not just a punt return specialist in order to earn a spot at this point of the year.