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NFL Draft Profile: Running Back Dion Lewis - PIT

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In the coming weeks I'm going to be highlighting some prospects that might interest the Redskins throughout the draft. Considering the majority of Washington's picks come in the 5th round or later, I thought it would be appropriate to start off with a late round option.

Dion Lewis, RB- Pittsburgh:

Background: Lewis ran for a combined 2,860 yards on 544 carries for a 5.3 average. He added he added 52 receptions and another 405 yards through the air. 

Measurables: 5'8" 195 pounds

Projected draft position: I personally have him much higher than this, but most scouting services have him between a 5th-7th rounder, with the majority in the 5th round range.

Pros, Cons and Analysis after the jump...

Pros:

 

  • Highly productive college career
  • Changes direction on a dime
  • Quick and shifty, knows how to make people miss
  • Good speed burst and accelaration
  • Good balance and doesn't go down on first contact
  • Runs with a low center of gravity, doesn't present a big target to tacklers
  • Smart, instinctive player and not afraid to run between the tackles
  • Good vision and excellent patience in waiting for the play to develop
  • Ultimate competitor, hard worker, no known character concerns
  • Playmaker, consistently came up with big plays when they were needed most

Cons:

  • Not a home run hitter, won't outrun defenders, relies more on agility
  • Despite good speed burst, he can't sustain it over long distances
  • Only an adequate pass catcher at this point
  • Not a great blocker
  • Small, needs to add some strength 
  • At times gets too patient in the backfield 
  • Had a fairly drastic decline in production his sophomore year

Analysis:
Lewis is a running back that I think is getting widely overlooked in scouting circles, because he doesn't have that breakaway speed. Normally people expect smaller backs, to run 40 times in the 4.3's or at worst low 4.4's. That isn't likely to be the case with Lewis as he will probably be more of a 4.48-4.53 type of guy. The thing that scouts seem to overlook, is his very good initial burst. He can still get to the outside or the 2nd level, he just doesn't have the sustained speed. He's not the type of running back who will make one cut, get to the sideline and is off to the races. He can still make those 50 and 60 yard runs, but he will do it with his agility and football I.Q. 

Lewis is one of the better running backs at changing directions, and juking defenders. In addition to physically being able to cut, Lewis sells it so well with his body language that a lot of defenders over pursue. Add to that his balance and physical running style and you have a back that can pick up big chunks of yards consistently. While he will get compared to some of the speed backs of the past few years, its not a good fit for him. What he lacks in straight away speed, he makes up for in toughness and an ability to be more of a complete back. Overall I don't think he will be a 25 carry a game type of back, but 15+ should be alright. Lewis is the type of back who will get overlooked because he doesn't fit a cookie cutter image, but end up being one of the most productive backs from this class.


Why he makes sense for the Skins:
Whether you love Ryan Torain or not as the Redskins top running back, one thing is abundantly clear in the NFL, and that is you can't survive with just one running back.Considering the extensive injury history Torain has, the Redskins have to especially concerned with having an order of succession. Last season, on more than one occasion the Redskins were left with only a single healthy running back, that can't be the issue again this season. Although Keiland Williams showed himself to be a capable backup running back, and third down option, he isn't the type of back who should have to start for an extended period of time. Williams for a series is fine, Williams for 4 weeks, isn't really an option. The Redskins need to add a back, but given their other needs shouldn't spend big money in free agency or a high pick in the draft.

Enter Dion Lewis. Lewis is the perfect fit for D.C. as he has a lot of potential, but should be readily available in the 5th or 6th round. Lewis' vision and patience are a perfect fit for Coach Shanahan's zone blocking scheme. As are his shiftiness and his football smarts.

Lewis is also a great complementary back to Torain and Williams, because he runs with a completely different style than both of them. He might not be the track star, most people would want to complete the backfield, but he is a different enough runner that it will work. He is quick enough to run off tackle more, but still has the toughness to run inside (which is good for if Torain is injured). Lewis's open field abilities will be a big weapon for the Skins, and a great fit for Washington's scheme. Lewis could very well be next in a long list of late round running backs that Shanahan turned into to stars.

While the range is wide on where Lewis will be selected, I have a feeling he will be available in the late rounds. I think he is an excellent choice for their higher pick in the 5th round, and not to risk waiting around any longer for him.

Check out the rest of my draft coverage here and check back for more Draft Profiles (if there is any interesting player, you'd like me to look at write his name in the comments and I'll be happy to give my thoughts, or do an entire post!)

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