A.J. Ouellette, RB
School: Ohio | Conference: Mid-American
College Experience: RS Senior | Age: 23
Height / Weight: 5-10 / 209 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 7th Round or UDFA
NFL Comparison: Cameron Artis-Payne
A.J. Ouellette didn’t get any football scholarships coming out of high school and was a walk-on at Ohio. His freshman season he was 5th on the depth chart and wasn’t expected to play but he got a chance due to injuries and issues with ball security with the guys in front of him. He nearly had a 1,000 scrimmage yards as a true freshman. Ouellette put up close to similar numbers his sophomore season and going into his junior year he was voted team captain. Shortly after the 2016 season started he suffered a lisfranc injury and was granted a medical redshirt as a result. The last two seasons (his RS Junior and RS Senior seasons respectively) have been some of the best and some of the best for a running back in Ohio history. He was the leading rusher in the MAC this season. He’s just the fourth player in the history of the program to rush for 1,000 yards twice. He also finished his career ranked 4th in program history for rushing touchdowns. Ouellette certainly made the most of his time playing for Ohio and when from unknown walk on to one of the best players ever in school history. He faces a similar challenge now as he heads to the NFL but he is tough, a hard worker, and he gives it his all on the field. I think a team will fall in love with that one way or another and because of that he has a chance of getting drafted in April.
- Great vision, decent athleticism, and excellent balance for the position.
- Ouellette reduces the running back position down to its most simplest and important traits and that’s what has made him effective. He shows patience and follows his blockers as they set up lanes. He uses his vision to pick out an opening then uses a little quickness and burst to run through. He plays with great balance and strength and doesn’t go down easy on first contact. He keeps his legs moving and is a tough runner.
- Shows up well as a receiver out of the backfield as well. He has decent hands, secures the ball, and heads upfield quickly.
- Good pass protector who squares up and takes on blockers with good technique and effort. Coupled with his receiving ability he may get few looks as a 3rd down back.
- Athleticism is probably below average. If I had to guess Ouellette probably runs in the 4.6s if not 4.7s. Has a bit of initial quickness but burst, quickness, acceleration, and agility are all below average. He’s a north / south guy who isn’t going to do much thats special in the way of athleticism.
- Has to take care of the ball better, over the past 2 seasons he’s had at least 6 fumbles on 405 carries. The rough math goes like this: That averages out to a fumble every ~67.5 carries. He averaged ~15.5 carries a game so he’s fumbling once every 4.3 games. Not god awful but its more than whats acceptable.
- Could remain at RB if he gets a chance in the league (I think he should) but very well be asked to play FB I don’t see how gaining weight and further diminishing his athleticism helps but it’s probably something he may be asked to do.
Let’s see his work:
A.J. Ouellette forced more missed tackles that any other running back in the MAC this season. pic.twitter.com/xhpI1eL6sl— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 30, 2019
This run by A.J. Ouellette set-up Ohio’s first TD of the night. Heck of an effort to stay on his feet. Ohio up 7-0 early: pic.twitter.com/2BhTwd8AWs— Thomas Garverick (@Tommygarv17) November 8, 2018
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
While its always exciting to write about potential starters its obvious I won’t go down that road with Ouellette. We can see what he is: a tough, productive, and effective running back that worked his way into success on the field but due to his lack of athleticism he’s going to be very limited at the next level. That does not mean he is useless. He’s going to be a late pick and may possibly go undrafted but bottom of the depth chart guys like this make a difference when building a team. The Redskins backfield is crowded at the moment but it’s far from iron clad since a couple of familiar names aren’t even under contract for next season. A lot of change can happen with it this offseason and as I have mentioned before the team should be looking to make rushing a staple of the offense given the unfortunate circumstances at QB. Ouellette is probably a guy who doesn’t even dress on Sundays half the time but he will when someone inevitably gets injured and he’s definitely a solid choice to carry the rock a handful of times because you know he’s going to get you positive plays. He makes good decisions and though he definitely has stuff to work on I think he would be a good fit in the power scheme the Redskins currently run with his style. He’s going to make the most of his opportunities and it wouldn’t surprise me if he beat out guys at the bottom of the roster race at the position. A player that will be “free” or close to it (draft capital) with these traits I’d say he’s worth a shot.