Royce Freeman, RB
School: Oregon | Conference: PAC 12
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 5-11 / 231 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 3rd Round or 4th Round
NFL Comparison: Jonathan Stewart
A 4-star prospect out of Imperial, California Royce Freeman arrived at Oregon in 2014 and got to work immediately in Oregon’s offense. Throughout his career, Freeman has been a prolific runner and specifically a touchdown machine. He is Oregon's all-time leading rusher. He is currently 10th all-time in the NCAA record books for rushing touchdowns in a career. If not for Oregon’s spread offense and Freeman’s injuries he would be mentioned with some of the top second-tier backs in this draft. Freeman’s injuries started his junior year when he sustained a knee injury that kept him out a few games. Some say he lost some of his burst because of it. Freeman was also injured all this past season with leg and shoulder injuries but played through them. Freeman has also racked up 947 career rushes which puts him 25th on the NCAA career rushing attempts list and has some questioning just how long he’ll last in the NFL. With the aforementioned all being valid concerns there are a couple other sure things about Freeman: He is an extremely productive rusher when healthy (and not you could argue) and he is tough as nails. Though some would say he’s lost half a step because of his injury Freeman still moves pretty well for a back his size. He is accustomed to running out of the shotgun and runs with great vision and has some decent lateral quickness. If he gets into open space he is very dangerous. There is no doubt Freeman’s performance and medical checks at the Combine will be a huge factor in solidifying his draft status. If he performs well and comes out in the clear medically he could rise.
- Good size strong and well built for the position with above-average athleticism.
- Shows flashes of great lateral quickness between the tackles and even better elusiveness when he gets to the edge has the speed to break long runs.
- Vision is probably his best trait. He will set up blocks and play with patience until he can burst through a crease.
- Tough player who plays with effort and through pain. Did what he was asked of at Oregon including being the lead blocker for his running back peers.
- Productive, reliable, and consistent.
- Injury history and a lot of tread on his tires will have to convince teams he can hold up vs. his draft value.
- Not as physical as I thought a guy his size would be. Doesnt shy away from contact per se but doesn't look to rock an opponent either.
- Lacks that great/elite burst to really get through the 1st level and or pull away from defenders.
- 10 fumbles in his career ball security still needs to be cleaned up even on 900+ carries.
Let’s see his work:
The highest single-season PFF grade by any running back in this class over their college career belongs to...— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) February 14, 2018
Oregon's Royce Freeman.
He's an interesting player. Could be the guy that gets overlooked and becomes a mid-round steal in the NFL.
He’s not explosive, but Royce Freeman does a good job of varying his stride length and altering play speed to slip by defenders pic.twitter.com/h0eQz1OWmy— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) February 12, 2018
Royce Freeman didn't average less than 5.2 yards per carry in a game this entire season.— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) February 12, 2018
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
A lot rides on Freeman’s medicals and combine performance as previously stated. I won't deny that while the young man is productive, tough, and a baller his career may be shorter than the typical prospect because of all he has done already. That is speculation on my part but 900+ carries is nothing to sneeze at. If I had to guess positively I would think Freeman’s career is likely to last around 6 seasons maybe more if he goes into the right offense. That said I think Freeman can be a very productive back at the next level but to help preserve him I would no doubt put him into a timeshare if I were a coach. To that end, Freeman could contribute to the Redskins and split time with Perine. Both backs could offer a 1-2 punch with Freeman being the slightly better athlete of the two who has a nose for the end zone. He could contribute and improve the run game but I don’t think he is the best fit for what the Redskins say they are trying to do. Honestly, I think Freeman would perform better in a timeshare on a team that has a zone-blocking run scheme. Though he can bang between the tackles he is much more effective running outside. I could actually see Freeman doing well in an offense like the Patriots, Falcons, Broncos etc. Unless it's a division rival I’ll be rooting for Freeman wherever he lands.