Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler room No.231: RB Joshua Kelley’s (UCLA) Pre-/Post-Snap Keys

Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room breaks down the pre- and post-snap keys on this five-yard run from UCLA running back Joshua Kelley that makes him an NFL Draft prospect of quality. 

Good running back play requires a balance of theory, technique, and athletic ability practiced to the point of making its execution appear intuitive. Today, we’re deconstructing this fusion of skills so you can appreciate the strategic element of the position that’s easily overlooked.

UCLA’s Joshua Kelley makes this five-yard run look easy, but when you break it down, there are a lot of considerations before and after the snap that drives Kelley’s decision-making:

  • Box count.
  • Defender-teammate numbers on each side of the line.
  • Play design.
  • Post-snap leverage before the exchange.
  • Post-snap leverage after the exchange.
  • Setting up defenders with the decision the runner makes after the exchange.

The big runs are exciting for fans, but it’s these productive chain-moving gains that often indicate whether a back has the goods.

Even the best running back prospects have decision-making errors. On the play after the one profiled above, Kelley tries to make the same decision when the information presented to him isn’t favorable to do so. Still, there are more instances where Kelley wins than he loses because of his diagnostic skills.

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