The most impressive running back earning extended time in Jacksonville’s training camp has been journeyman Jordan Todman. A sixth-round pick of the San Diego Chargers in 2011, Todman entered the league as 5’8″, 203-lb. prospect from Connecticut. The Chargers cut him in October of that year and he signed with the Vikings in late December. The following year, the Vikings placed Todman on its practice squad after the preseason. The Jaguars signed Todman off the Vikings’ practice squad in late November of 2012.
Those are the basic facts about Todman’s path to Jacksonville. Many people will read a chronology like this and think there’s nothing to see here and they’ll move along. Lions running back Joique Bell took a similar path and he’s now out-playing Illinois star Mikel Leshoure in Detroit. Can Todman be the future in Jacksonville if Maurice Jones-Drew’s legs fail him?
Todman was my No.15 runner in the 2011 Rookie Scouting Portfolio:
Todman flashes some good interior running skills. He can press a hole and bounce outside or inside to set up blocks as well as maximize gains in tight spaces with patient running. He has pretty good feet to slide away from traffic and find open lanes. He also has the burst to bounce runs outside or get through a seam at the line.
He does a good job of setting up blocks in the open field and he can use a stiff-arm or shoulder to run through defenders in the secondary when he can set them up with a move. He can also accelerate from his cuts to bounce into open space.
However, Todman has a disturbing tendency to go fast to the hole and then slow down at the entrance of the hole, which forces him to use his agility and power too early in the run to extricate himself from defenders just to get
minimal yardage. When he is consistently slow to the hole and fast through it, he looks like a potential NFL runner.
This lack of patience might also be a factor as to why he doesn’t push a pile effectively. If he had more of a running start into an open crease, he might have a stronger finish. Todman also needs to keep his head up when pass blocking. This technical error in pass protection will give defenders an instant advantage over him on every play.
Todman has enough speed and quickness to become a solid contributor, and perhaps a starter, but I don’t think he has enough special physical or conceptual qualities to develop into more than a productive change of pace back.
I also compared Todman to backs on a spectrum of styles that range from Thurman Thomas to Donald Brown to Maurice Morris. This comparison spectrum where I mention 2-3 players and place the prospect somewhere a long that continuum to show where his stylistic upside could go if the physical or conceptual skills improve and his stylistic downside if they don’t.
What you’ll see in this clip of Todman versus the Cincinnati Bearcats shows some of what I mentioned above:
On runs to the perimeter, Todman shows good feet a nice move in space to eliminate a defender’s angle and the burst to get free. When he finishes a run, he often keeps his feet moving and his pads low enough to get extra yards. However, he was often too patient on interior runs where he needed to get the pads down and plow forward to get what the play would give him. The Connecticut system use more power plays in its offense and I think Todman’s patience, footwork, and lighter frame make him a better match for a zone scheme.
Denard Robinson has more speed and Jones-Drew has Pro Bowl skills, but Todman might be just good enough to make the roster and contribute in the backfield. His pass protection will be a pivotal part of the equation in determining if he has a future in North Florida.
Here’s a six-page player evaluation of Jordan Todman with play-by-play examples from the 2011 Rookie Scouting Portfolio.
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