Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room RB Rico Dowdle (South Carolina): Dr. Sleep

Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room examines the two plays indicative of South Carolina running back Rico Dowdle’s game that makes him a compelling NFL Draft prospect you won’t want to sleep on. 

Rico Dowdle has a lot more to his game than what we’ve seen thus far. This was the opinion of the Gamecocks coaching staff last may, according to Athletic’s Seth Emerson.

After watching several games from Dowdle’s career, I’ll vouch for South Carolina’s thoughts that, “[Dowdle] is capable of being much more if he truly pushed himself.” In this instance, “much more,” meant consistency of play and consistency of availability.

Knee, ankle, and a sports hernia injuries sidelined Dowdle for significant parts of his career—limiting Dowdle’s Saturdays to good but not great work. However, there are significant flashes of excellence on his tape that reveal what Dowdle could become with good health and consistent work.

Dowdle has the physique, athletic ability, vision, and technical acumen of a three-down NFL starter in the style of runners like Le’Veon Bell and Joe Mixon. An important reminder, when I’m comparing styles I’m not comparing overall talent. The fact that I think Dowdle can become a starter should tell you that his potential is in the vicinity of Bell and Mixon but as of today, Dowdle flashes moments that reveal similarities in which Bell and Mixon win as ball carriers and receivers.

Moments don’t make a running back an NFL starter. Still, moments are compelling enough to tout Dowdle as a sleeper. These two plays below encapsulate the creativity, high-end movement, acceleration, and sound decision-making ingrained in Dowdle’s game.

Also a skilled receiver, Dowdle has a lot of skills difficult to teach once you’re considering players at this level of the game. He lacks the annual production and the track record of good health to earn a first- or second-day selection and there’s a good chance he goes undrafted.

So did Phillip Lindsay, Raheem Mostert, and several other backs who’ve delivered compelling NFL production. There are several backs in this class who could turn out to be sleepers. Dowdle gets my vote as the best of the bunch.

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