Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room showcases a run by 2019 NFL Draft prospect, RB Nico Evans (Wyoming) where he uses his lineman as a ballast to work through a linebacker in the crease for a long touchdown.
There are a lot of good examples of Nico Evans’ intelligent play-making in his 2018 opener against New Mexico State. One of my favorites is this 56-yard touchdown run where Evans uses his line has a ballast to withstand and escape the hit and wrap from a middle linebacker in the hole.
I’ve watched dozens of good NFL running backs use this technique with success in the past, but I’ve never given it a name. Today, the phrase “the running back using his line as a ballast,” comes to mind. A ballast is something sturdy used to maintain stability, usually reserved for vessels — especially of the maritime variety.
In this case, we’ll use it for the S.S. Nico, who decides to navigate through this channel opened by his backside blockers. In that space is the middle linebacker. Evans has three choices as he heads into this crease:
- Take the linebacker head-on and hope to run him over or at least push for a few yards.
- Set up a cut to the linebacker’s hash-side shoulder and hopefully make him miss or break the tackle into the open field.
- Set up a cut to the linebackers sideline shoulder and hopefully make him miss or break the tackle into the open field.
Despite the tight quarters that come with cutting to the sideline shoulder, this is the choice Evans makes and it’s the wisest one. Evans uses his blocker as a ballast to maintain his own balance because when the linebacker hits Evans, he’s going to collide into the lineman.
The collision helps Evan’s stay upright and it buys him time to pull through the linebacker’s wrap.
While this may not be Evans’ thought process when he’s facing a linebacker in the crease, he at least understands that friendly bodies can help him generate a push or shield him from further contact. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s also aware of how his line can serve him as a ballast against tackles. He does it well here.
For the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), get the 2019 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. If you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2018 RSPs at no additional charge.
Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 each. You can pre-order the 2019 RSP now through December 28 and get a 10 percent discount.