Dynasty Draft Profile: Ameer Abdullah
March 11, 2015 | Chad Scott
It will be nearly impossible for any running back to leapfrog either Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon, but Ameer Abdullah has the best chance.
After consecutive 1600+ yard rushing seasons to close out his college career, Abdullah went on to become the Senior Bowl MVP (11 touches, 113 yards) and Combine deity. The arrows are pointing up and it’s not going to stop.
As the dust settled on Abdullah’s college career, he supplanted himself as Nebraska’s #2 career rushing leader, behind only Mike Rozier. To add to his accolades, amongst Big-10 career leaders, Abdullah ranks #17, #9 and #2 in rush attempts, rushing yards and kick return yards, respectively. His overall production places him in the conversations of being Nebraska’s best running back in school history.
At the combine, Abdullah kept his shine on finishing #1 in the 3-cone, 20YSS, vertical and broad jumps amongst running backs. His 40-time netted him #12, but scouts attending his Pro Day timed him in the 4.4-4.5 range.
As I watched Abdullah, I couldn’t help but see a lot of Gio Bernard in his game. Both are exceptional pass catchers out of the backfield or lined up on the outside; both display smooth running styles with next level agility and an added punch of physicality when needed; and both are terrors in space, leaving tiny bits of ankles littered across the field.
With the boosted Pro Day 40-time and agility scores at the combine, there really isn’t a back with Abdullah’s versatility/skill set in this year’s class. Before you throw rocks at me for such blasphemy, that doesn’t mean he’s the best back – just most versatile, you Gurley men.
I absolutely love Abdullah’s running style – the explosive jump cuts, change of direction, pass catching, etc. I used to love (and on the occasional Friday night) watching old Barry Sanders highlight reels. The way he completely fooled defenders, leaving their jocks far behind. Abdullah has some of that wiggle in him and my ankles popped while watching this:
Demonstrates great agility and power (squats 570lbs) as he glides to his right while breaking two tackles and keeps his legs churning that buttah
He’s an asset in the screen game, but has strong hands that attack a misplaced throw:
As gifted as Abdullah is, he doesn’t look for the homerun if it’s not there. While his strength isn’t running inside, he is capable. Nothing flashy, just getting the job done by sliding past defenders, knifing his body through the giants surrounding him and falling forward for positive yardage:
He’s patient and allows the play to be setup by his offensive linemen. Once he sees the hole, he bursts forward and shows off some of that physicality. His low center of gravity and under-control running is a thing of beauty:
Lastly, I like pinball and so does Abdullah:
The glaring weakness in Abdullah’s game is his susceptibility to putting the rock on the turf. In 53 career games, Abdullah fumbled 23 times – losing 16. That’s the easiest way to find your Abdullah oblongata on the bench. *prays Tom Coughlin and/or Bill Belichick don’t draft him*
An eye-opening table depicting fumble rates I’m stealing, courtesy of Dane Brugler:
Player Fumble Rate
To learn more about fumble rates and what they mean, go HERE.
Due to his build, I have my doubts Abdullah can be a true workhorse in the NFL. As I mentioned earlier, I saw a lot of similarities between him and Gio Bernard (waiting for confirmation on whether or not he too drives his Mom’s minivan). Workhorses are a dying breed all in themselves, but I question whether or not he could handle it even if injuries/benchings afford him the opportunity. He proved he could handle a decent workload in college (843 touches from 2012-2014), but that doesn’t necessarily mean he can in the NFL. His usage is above my paygrade (and NFL aptitude), but it certainly raises concerns when historically, backs his size aren’t able or capable of doing so.
Abdullah is average in pass pro, but seems to understand schemes. He will need to fully understand protections and execute before anything else. Technique can be coached, as it can with cases of fumblitis.
He has met his pre-draft goals in the timed and skill drills, now his focus needs to be on holding on to the ball and understanding his pass pro assignments. If he can master those as well, I think we are looking at a better version of Bernard through two years.
In Dynasty formats, Abdullah is currently my #3 RB in this class and hovering around the 1.06-1.08 slots for me. Per DLF, Abdullah was taken as the #15 overall rookie in February’s ADP (thanks, Ryan McDowell). Given his stock is on the rise, I believe we’ll see a shift into the late first round – early second, starting this month.