Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens examines the gap-running skill of 49ers running back Raheem Mostert, a player who understands how to maximize his velocity, contact balance, and space as he works through the line of scrimmage.
What makes Raheem Mostert a good running back? He’s fast, he’s combative, and he reads the line of scrimmage quick enough to make productive decisions.
I’ll be sharing more about Mostert’s positives and areas he can improve in an extended film room coming soon. For now, there’s an aspect of Mostert’s game that applies to all running backs who wish to become skilled behind gap blocking schemes that’s an easy thing to present immediately.
Mostert understands how to “scrape” the backs of his blockers at the line of scrimmage as he enters the prescribed crease of a gap-style run. There’s probably a more accurate coaching term for this act, but since we characterize defenders working tight to other players as “scraping,” the same idea applies with runners.
The two plays below show how Mostert uses this scraping technique to maximize the space between himself and the unblocked defender at the end of the hole. This strategy maximizes the runner’s downhill alignment into the crease, which optimizes his velocity and contact balance.
At the same time, this minimizes the defender’s angle to get his body behind a hit and reduces his chances of making a quality tackle.
High school and college runners should get comfortable with the idea of working tight to their blockers because as the level of defensive play increases, the less space is available. Learning to make the most of that space is essential for success.
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