Running backs as a whole have become less highly regarded as NFL draft prospects in recent years as teams have adopted pass-first offensive approaches. However, Arizona‘s Ka’Deem Carey is a player who has the potential to be a game-changer as a pro, and he has a good shot to be taken in the early rounds of this year’s draft.
While some of the other top backs in this year’s draft class, particularly Oregon‘s DeAnthony Thomas and Baylor‘s Lache Seastrunk, are specialty players who excel mainly in one particular area of the running game, Carey is more of an all-around back. While he seems to be at his best when he gets to the outside, he’s capable of making plays up the middle too.
Though he has difficulty creating space at times, he is incredibly difficult for defenders to catch up to once he gets into the open field. Carey plays very similarly to San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore as he eases his way to the line of scrimmage before unleashing his breakaway speed as he comes free.
In terms of statistics, Carey is dominant. In 2012, he led all FBS players with 1929 rushing yards. He also had 23 touchdowns, second only to Nevada‘s Stefphon Jefferson. This year, despite missing Arizona’s season opener, Carey still ranks 10th in the nation in rushing yards, having gained 920 yards over 156 attempts.
There aren’t many negatives with Carey, but there are a few things that have a chance to negatively impact his draft stock. First of all, Carey is rather small, measuring in at a listed 5-foot-10 and 196 pounds. It would probably benefit him to put on some more weight as he trains for the rigors of the NFL.
Secondly, Carey runs with an upright style, which is not a huge concern but could be a problem considering his lack of size. Finally, Carey’s had some off-the-field issues, and teams may be worried about those as they ponder whether to make him a key part of their offense.
It’s rather unlikely that Carey will be a first-rounder, especially considering that no running backs were taken during the first round in 2013. However, he has a very good chance to be the first back off the board, which would make him a good candidate to be taken early on in round two.
- Has a penchant for getting into the endzone
- Exerts great breakaway speed once he gets into open space
- Difficult to stop when he runs to the outside
- Doesn’t back down easily and seems to always push for extra yards
- Exceptional leaping ability, which comes in handy near the goal line
- Is a solid receiver out of the backfield
- Extremely durable; set the school record for carries in a game with 39 against Utah
- Has difficulty creating space when running up the middle
- Doesn’t show much speed or power when trying to get past the line of scrimmage, instead relying solely on elusiveness
- Has a rather high running style that could be looked upon negatively by some evaluators
- Though he exerts a high amount of effort, he is not a very good protector on pass plays
- Potential character issues; arrested last December and charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct following a domestic violence incident. Was also kicked out of an Arizona basketball game in January following an incident with a campus security officer. These issues caused him to be suspended for Arizona’s season opener.
Carey has been extremely effective during the 2013 season. Though he’s not quite on pace to match his 2012 numbers in either rushing yards or touchdowns, you have to factor in that Carey missed the Wildcats’ first game while being suspended. Carey’s rushed for at least 100 yards in every game, and he’s been particularly effective over the past few weeks. He ran the ball an incredible 39 times for 232 yards and a touchdown against Utah, and then scored four touchdowns on 23 carries against Colorado.
His name has even been brought up in some Heisman conversations recently, and though his chances are extremely slim, it says something about just how effective he’s been this year.
2014 Draft Projection: Second Round