Look up “finisher” in the football encyclopedia of slang and Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens reveals why Falcons running back Devonta Freeman should be one of the examples pictured.
It’s startling that Devonta Freeman and Leonard Fournette have something in common as running backs with two different styles. Freeman is one of the best zone runners in the game today. He can press creases deep, create space to find secondary holes, and he’s quick enough to make multiple opponents miss.
Fournette might get dizzy and weak-kneed trying to emulate Freeman’s moves that are as agile as a skateboarder. Fournette is a souped-up cement truck with a top gear that would leave Freeman choking on turf pellets kicked up in Fournette’s wake.
What both backs share is the willingness, no, the desire, to attack the opponent. Most understand this about Fournette, but it’s the shifty Freeman who is surprisingly vicious at the point of attack.
It doesn’t take much game study to know that most backs to run attack with this intensity. Sure, they lower their pads but you don’t see them maintain their top pace into the contact or even accelerate into the collision. Don’t get too caught up in the level of the helmet and the new rules.
The overarching point is about the player’s intensity and commitment at the collision point. Freeman is agile, but he’s decisive. He may change direction with impressive angles, but the movement has the same intensity as his attack of an opponent.
It’s uncommon to see backs run this hard at the college level. The few that do often pick their spots to attack in this fashion. Fewer are violent. Those backs, if they have the decision-making maturity, should be on your radar.
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