Hidden Masterpiece? Matt Waldman’s Sample Scouting Report on RB Isiah Pacheco (Chiefs)

Hidden Masterpiece? Matt Waldman’s Sample Scouting Report on RB Isiah Pacheco (Chiefs)

Matt Waldman’s shares samples of his pre-draft analysis of Kansas City Chiefs’ hopeful, Isaih Pacheco,  from the 2022 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. Pacheco is having a productive training camp and earning media attention.

Hidden Masterpiece?

Correll Buckhalter. Charcandrick West. Spencer Ware. Damien Williams. Darrel Williams. Derrick Gore. Andy Reid has been known for giving third-day running back prospects (4th round or lower) an opportunity to deliver in his offense.

Ware was my favorite of the bunch. Isaih Pacheco may one challenge for that place in my pantheon of underrated late-round/UDFA runners. If you prefer to listen to my thoughts on this RB class, you can check out my 2022 RSP RB Class Solo Cast.

Below are two sample reports on Pacheco from the 2022 Rookie Scouting Portfolo Pre-Draft publication. The first is from the Underrated/Overrated section of the RSP’s running back chapters that lists Pacheco as an underrated prospect. The second is his scouting report.

Underrated

Isaih Pacheco, Rutgers: I liked Cam Akers coming out of school. I saw him as an Incomplete Masterpiece. Pacheco might be a hidden masterpiece. A well-built speedster (4.37-second, 40-Yard Dash), Pacheco worked with a Rutgers offensive line that was slow and porous.

When Rutgers ran slow-developing plays against Big Ten competition, his guards couldn’t reach their assignments in time. Even with Pacheco taking a measured pace, he’d must slow to a standstill for one of his guards to struggle getting around the center.

Between slow movers in front of him and defenders disrupting plays before they began, it’s no surprise that Pacecho began taking matters into is own hands and pushing the ball downhill—blockers in or out of position. This is going to be a criticism of his game because in theory, Pacheco wasn’t following the rules.

In practice, I think Pacheco knew the rules weren’t working and he had to help his offense survive by any means necessary. His patience is more than enough for quick-hitting plays and when he faced teams that weren’t dominating his offensive line, the willingness to let his teammates set up lanes was present more often. Give Pacheco a little time to acclimate to a professional-caliber offensive line and I think he’ll become a capable decision-maker between the tackles with any blocking scheme.

Throw Pacheco’s excellent hands into the equation and there’s opportunity for him to grow into an every-down back.

He’s one of the few cases where I think a prospect might finish his rookie year and have legitimate reason to think: “Yeah, the NFL is the most difficult level of football, but running the ball was a little easier in some ways than what I experienced in school.”

I bet Matt Forte and Ahmad Bradshaw felt that way. I’m not as sold on Pacheco as I was on those two, but he might qualify.

RSP Pre-Draft Scouting Report

RSP Ranking: RB9

Height/Weight: 5-11/216 School: Rutgers

Comparison Spectrum: Cam Akers-X-Kylin Hill

Depth of Talent Score: 81.6 = Rotational Starter: Executes at a starter level in a role playing to his strengths. Pacheco is on the lower range of his tier, which means he may begin his career as a contributor with a limited role playing to his strengths.

The Elevator Pitch for Pacheco: He’s the best back to come out of Rutgers since Ray Rice and there’s potential that he could be just as good as Rice in his prime. The biggest question mark for this well-built back with speed, acceleration, and hands is his decision-making between the tackles.

At first glance, it appears that Pacheco makes errors based on the theory of setting up blockers and creases. However, the offensive line is a porous unit that allows a lot of penetration and lacks the athletic ability or wherewithal to execute slowdeveloping plays that the coaches called in the game plan. Pacheco was often forced to either to wait for his teammates to reach a spot late and hope for the best or sometimes spot the open area and hit it ahead of blockers to get what he could.

I believe Pacheco will prove that he’s capable of patient running and will acclimate to a higher level of line play within a year of being in the league. Once he does, his athletic ability, strength, and receiving skills should come to the fore as a legitimate contributor in a committee and eventually a lead back. If he becomes a strong route runner and his blocking continues to develop, he could become a featured back in 2-3 years.

Where has the player improved? His pass protection is trending in the right direction, but he still has work to do with strikes, diagnosing pressure, and knowing his assignments.

Where is the player inconsistent? His decision-making between the tackles has moments of impatience but some of this must do with his line play. If I had to make a call on Pacheco in his area, I believe he’ll acclimate to the quality of his NFL teammates and prove that some of the decision-making flaws are actually just him coping with the quality of his college line.

What is the best scheme fit? Pacheco will immediately perform in an offense that features quick-hitting gap plays, draws, and perimeter runs. I think he’ll develop into a fine zone runner once he experiences what working with professional-caliber linemen is like.

He should absolutely become a staple in the passing game as he gains more experience with route running. His hands are an asset.

What is his ceiling scenario? Pacheco is a lot closer to Cam Akers than his billing (and even his RSP grade) may indicate.

What is his floor scenario? Pacheco doesn’t acclimate to NFL offensive line play and is actually impatient and has difficulty setting double-teams at this level and is stuck on depth charts as the third or fourth back. Or, a low draft capital renders him there without a chance to actually compete like, say, James Robinson.

Physical: He runs hard and displays promising contact balance.

Technical: Pacheco has excellent hand placement when attacking the football as a receiver.

Conceptual: Pacheco moves at a fast pace and that pace often appears rushed. It leads to him missing details that can help him and his team, such as making the correct read of a block, manipulating defenders, and identifying the blitz.

Pacheco’s high effort makes him a worthwhile candidate to contribute in the NFL on special teams as a coverage specialist.

Intuitive: The more I watched Pacheco, the more I believe his “impatience” is a product of knowing the limitations of his linemen and then erring on the side of hitting gaps with urgency. This is the right way to err when your line play’s failure to set up slower-developing runs can lead to losses.

Off-Field Resilience: A notable story about Pacheco.

Build: He’s in the sweet spot of an NFL contributor/starter.

Vision: He reads the leverage of his blockers up front but has lapses where he makes decisions based on what he sees rather than acting on what he should know about anticipating the development of a block.

One thing he hasn’t seen as well as he could throughout much of his career is how to use double-teams to his advantage.

He needs to anticipate the opening of a crease between the double team and not cut back into unfavorable leverage because he’s only looking at the outside shoulders of each member of the double team. This was an area that showed moments of improvement as the 2021 season progressed—pressing between the double team and within a step of the blockers before cutting back

Although he can press deep, he’ll press within 2-3 steps of his blocks to set up a cutback, manipulating an unblocked linebacker into the wrong interior gap but relying more on his quickness. This may must do with Pacheco not trusting what his line gives him because he deals with a lot of penetration early in runs.

Pacheco spots penetration into the backfield and can efficiently avoid edge penetration reaching the exchanging point by pointing the toe to the boundary and opening his hips to bounce a run the other way.

He doesn’t give slower-developing blocking schemes the time and space for the blockers to develop, crowding the backs of pullers, getting too far outside the puller too early, or attacking holes where an initial press away from the hole would set up a better lane. This happens with zone and gap plays and with unproductive results. At the same time his pulling guards are often sluggish and well behind the pace of the play’s design.

When he has quicker-hitting plays, Pacheco displays decisive cutback ability into tight creases. I wouldn’t be surprised if he quickly corrects some of these issues with slower-developing plays once he’s in the NFL – it may even be better to rephrase this as “acclimating to better blocking.”

Elusiveness: Pacheco will alter his stride length to set up lead blockers or to avoid penetration into the backfield. He only needs two steps to get downhill from a perimeter approach—even to the far sideline. He opens the hips efficiently to work away from outside penetration as he takes the exchange, pointing the toe with his lead foot to the area he wants to go— even 90-degree turns tight to the blocker head of him.

He has stutters, spins off contact, stop-start, and lateral movement that wins in traffic and in open space. He also gets his feet up from trash in open space.

Acceleration: Pacheco hits creases with the quickness and intensity to bounce off contact to his side from a linebacker, forcing the linebacker to slide to the lower legs for a wrap. He has the burst to threaten a cornerback playing 10 yards off the line in the near-side flat to the near-sideline.

Speed: He lacks the open-field speed and burst to outrun a middle linebacker working from the opposite hash in pursuit to the far flat where Pacheco made the catch. Pacheco could only gain 9 yards before the linebacker caught up. He does not beat off-ball linebackers to the far side edge on designed runs unless well blocked.

Power: Pacheco drops his pads low enough to bounce off hard hits and force opposing defenders backward. He keeps his feet moving until brought to the ground.

He’s skilled at dipping his pads, or even one pad, into oncoming contact, turning his ball-carrying arm away from the collision. He often gets lower than linebackers and safeties—even in short-yardage situations as he’s turning the corner on a perimeter run.

He’ll use a stiff-arm to ward off reaches from pursuit, including defensive linemen. When he times his stiff-arm effectively, he can knock a defender to the ground with a violent strike. However, he often misses with the maneuver.

He can remain on his feet when wrapped at the line by a defensive tackle. If his lineman would help push, he’d get yardage.

Direct Contact: Pacheco bounces off the initial contact of linebackers in the hole and forces the opponent to slide to Pacheco’s lower legs for a wrap.

Indirect Contact Balance: Pacheco has the size and pad level to win an indirect collision with a defensive tackle shooting a gap into the backfield. He has effective balance-touch technique to recover from the collision and move forward, pushing into a defensive tackle wrapping Pacheco high.

Routes: Pacheco must improve his stance and release when in a two-point stance as a receiver detached from the formation. He’s leaning too far back on his back foot and when he releases, he’s not rolling off the front foot. Instead, he’s taking an extra step to the side with the front foot.

He sells the vertical possibility of the route with intensity and snaps his turns with suddenness at the top of his stem, generating a quarterback-friendly position after his break.

Most of his routes are wide routes, screens, and flat routes.

Receiving: Pacheco extends his arms to the ball and can make overhand catches with targets above his shoulders and over his shoulder while on the move. He’ll also reach behind his break path to catch the ball.

He can take contact to his shoulders and chest as he begins his transition immediately after securing the ball with his hands. He high-points and snatches targets above his head with a suddenness and precision and he adjusts low and away to dig out targets below his knees.

He transitions immediately downhill after turning back to catch the ball.

Blocking: Pacheco missed the safety blitz coming from the secondary outside the opposite tackle. He looked briefly to the outside of that side of the pocket but didn’t look long enough.

He spots interior pressure from linebackers and he’ll square the opponent and extend his hands with bent arms towards the chest of the opponent. He gets beaten to the punch, but his position is often good enough to shield the opponent from the quarterback.

He can also be late to attack pressure when there are multiple blitzers on the same side of the line and he looks outside-in rather than inside-out. Being late leads to him overextending.

He’s better at picking up edge blitzes that are singular from one side of the field and in the box or a long-developing corner blitz. He’ll square and get a wide enough base to withstand a collision without getting pushed too far backward.

If forced to sustain a block, he struggles because he gives one shove and doesn’t move his feet. He also shoves rather than punches with the intent of following up or locking up the opponent with his hands. He’ll move his feet with stalk blocks in the open field but whether it’s a stalk block or edge pass protection,

Pacheco moves his feet to move forward rather than to slide laterally with the direction of a defender who overmatches him physically and he won’t succeed with this approach in edge protection scenarios.

He displayed a better punch, and uppercut without overextending or jabbing against Michigan than he did against Michigan State.

When blocking in the open field, Pacheco is aggressive to get his hands onto the opponent and he’ll follow up after each point of contact, moving his feet well enough to close the gap repeatedly during an assignment. He hustles downfield as a stalk blocker and his shoves can be effective against smaller defensive backs.

When he keeps his feet moving, as a sprint-out or stalk blocker, he can be effective against linebackers and defensive backs. His one-punch intensity is also good for chips before releasing into the backfield. If he can learn to shuffle better, he has upside as a pass protector who can handle linebackers, safeties, and limited exposures to defensive ends.

Ball Security: Pacheco carries the ball high to his chest and will cover up with both arms when the collision is impending.

He’ll also turn his pads so the ball-carrying arm is away from the reach of the colliding defender.

HIs ball security track record is excellent—1 fumble every 152.5 touches and he hasn’t fumbled since a fumble-heavy 2018 campaign, which is the past 497 touches.

Durability: No significant injuries. One game missed.

Pre-NFL Draft Fantasy Advice: I think there’s a real chance I’m being conservative with my grade for Pacheco’s vision even though I bet some evaluators are thinking I’m slightly on the optimistic side. If I am on the conservative side, then Pacheco would have graded as either the third or fourth back on my board.

I would consider his upside to be in this territory, which means he’s absolutely worth a pick in the first 2-3 rounds of rookie drafts before the NFL Draft. He may be a patience play due to his school/production, and potentially lower draft capital, but the talent is there.

Boiler/Film Room Material (Links to plays):
Isiah Pacheco Highlights

And of course, if you want to know about the rookies from this draft class, you will find the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), with the 2022 Rookie Scouting Portfolio for $21.95. 

Matt’s new RSP Dynasty Rankings and Two-Year Projections Package is available for $24.95

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2020 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2020 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

Best yet, proceeds from sales are set aside for a year-end donation to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse of children. 

 


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