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Were the Scouting Reports Right? - Elijah McGuire

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Kansas City Chiefs vs  New York Jets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Yesterday I took a look at how Chad Hansen looked compared to his scouting report entering the league. Today we’ll move on to the last of the 2017 Jets rookie class to get significant playing time in 2017; running back Elijah McGuire.

Here are his positives, as listed on his NFL.com scouting report.

Compact frame with good thickness in legs. Runs with good ball security. Very athletic with plus acceleration. Runs with forward lean and has strong burst through the hole when he sees it. Plant-and-go runner. Able to cut it back two gaps away. Build-up speed to the corner seems to fool linebackers who think they have the angle. Has some subtle wiggle approaching line of scrimmage. Excellent hand-eye coordination as pass catcher. Effective from the slot and into routes.

What seems right?

  • The positives listed in this report are just about exactly how I’d describe McGuire’s strengths as a Jet in his first year. His cut-back ability (“able to cut it back two gaps away”) was a trademark I noticed. As you saw in Jacksonville, he does have that 2nd-3rd gear speed once he hits the hole.
  • “Subtle wiggle approaching line of scrimmage”: McGuire definitely struck me as an east-west runner who is always looking to find the hole rather than hit the middle head-on.
  • “Excellent hand-eye coordination as pass catcher. Effective from the slot and into routes.” McGuire certainly flashed as a receiver. His sample size was small (26 targets), but out of the 61 backs with at least that many looks in the passing game, his 10.4 yards per reception average ranked 7th.

What seems off?

  • His ball security was noted as a strength, but McGuire did fumble the ball twice this year, losing both. Perhaps it will turn out to be an outlier, but 2 lost fumbles on 105 touches is a poor rate that will become an issue if he consistently loses the ball that frequently.

Here are his weaknesses:

Drops head, causing him to lose sight heading into the hole. Poor feel for spacing of the running lane. Runs too close to defensive linemen when open area is available. Lacks desired downhill toughness. Has no jump cut for optimal elusiveness. Lateral cuts driven by outside foot and lacks width. Will run up blocker’s back when there is still yardage to be had. Gives into tackles. Never finished with more than five broken tackles in a single season. Arm tackles throw him off his path. Pass protection needs work.

What seems right?

  • Plenty of talk here on his power game, and that is something I agree with strongly. McGuire was not a power tackle-breaker and was seldom used by the Jets in short yardage situations. This could be what holds him back from becoming a workhorse.
  • I wonder about his vision. It seemed McGuire was always getting hit early on, which I thought was often on the offensive line, but is he not selecting the right holes or failing to recognize when to cut upfield? His yards per attempt average of 3.6 was lower than both Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. Outside of the Jacksonville game, he averaged 2.8 yards per carry on the season.

What seems off?

  • “Has no jump cut for optimal elusiveness” - I know McGuire suffered a major injury towards the end of his college career and played against lower competition, but going in to the year all of these scouting reports led me to believe the Jets were getting an unathletic back, and after watching him play I thought he was the complete opposite of that. Jump cutting was his bread and butter, in my view.

Poll Choice: Choice 4 (Not the style I expected, but beat my performance expectations)

McGuire’s injury question marks and low level of competition had me thinking the Jets were getting a slow running back who dominated measly opponents to get to the NFL, but that’s absolutely not what he looked to be. He has quite a bit of wiggle and quickness to his game, and even if he never becomes the face of an offense, he should always carry a big-play threat and the ability to make a plus impact as a receiver, even lining up wide sometimes. I didn’t think the Jets were getting an athletic back with legit receiving ability, and I also didn’t expect him to place 5th on the team in scrimmage yards despite sitting behind Matt Forte and Bilal Powell on the depth chart. I think the aforementioned Powell is a great comparison for him. I don’t know if he has the complete package to be a gamechanging bellcow, but he has a variety of intriguing skills and could find a way to fit in somewhere for a team over a long period time, like Powell has.

Poll

Is Elijah McGuire the kind of player you thought he was?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Yes, he’s what I expected skillset-wise, and beat my expectations performance-wise
    (159 votes)
  • 9%
    Yes, he’s what I expected skillset-wise, but fell short of my expectations performance-wise
    (52 votes)
  • 20%
    He’s the type of player I thought he was and performed almost exactly as well as I expected
    (116 votes)
  • 38%
    No, he’s not what I expected skillset-wise, but in a good way; he beat my performance expectations
    (215 votes)
  • 3%
    No, he’s not the style of player I thought he was, and he is also worse than I thought
    (18 votes)
560 votes total Vote Now