Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens examines a fantastic short-yardage run from Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber.
Unless Ronald Jones II finds the super-secret cheat code to upgrade his game in two weeks, Peyton Barber has earned the starting job for the Tampa Buccaneers. If you’re a regular reader of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio, you know that Barber earned high marks here before the 2016 NFL Draft.
Still, I’m mildly surprised because the Buccaneers drafted Jones early and I liked Jones’ skills as a runner. However, that surprise was mild because Barber has worked his way up the depth chart in two years with a steady upward trajectory and he’s only 24 years old. This off-season, Barber dedicated himself to getting in the best shape of his NFL career so he could increase his quickness and stamina.
Those were easy fixes.
A few things he didn’t need to address are what sets him apart from the rest of the Buccaneers depth chart. Barber is a terrific decision maker between the tackles. Decision-making is the act of wisdom and running back wisdom knows when to be patient and when to be decisive.
This third-and-one masterpiece below is an instructive example of pressing the edge and cutting back inside that requires excellent hip mobility to change direction, precise footwork to accelerate through the direction change, and awesome pad level to dig out the defensive back colliding with him at the first-down marker.
When a back can work this low into contact and drive upward, it’s much like the technique of a block or a tackle. Whoever strikes first, can drive through the contact, roll the hips upward, and force the opponent off-balance. The specific techniques may differ by position, but the overriding concept remains the same.
This run is intelligent, determined, and technically-sound savagery. Jones may eventually have his day, but Barber is the type of player that will make him work his ass off to get it.
For college, NFL, and NFL draft analysis (and occasional stuff like this), subscribe to the RSP site and receive notifications of the latest post via email. Scroll to the bottom of this page and simply enter your email address.