Jarvion Franklin came out of nowhere last season as a true freshman to finish sixteenth in the NCAA in rushing yardage and fourth in rushing touchdowns.
Franklin was a three-star recruit, according to Rivals, coming out of Tinley Park High School. Even though he wasn’t a big name prospect, he didn’t let that stand in his way when he took over the starting running back job last season for the Western Michigan Broncos.
Franklin is a player that you are going need to keep an eye out during the next couple of seasons. You will have the opportunity to watch him play Michigan State on September 4th, and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN2. I recommend watching this game, because he’s not going to have many opportunities to be on national broadcasts this season, and he’s a player that devy players are going to need to monitor. Michigan State is going to be a tough matchup for him, but it is going to give us a good grasp of how well he can play against higher competition.
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2014: 306 carries, 1,551 yards, 5.1 yards per carry, 24 touchdowns, 15 receptions, 168 yards, one touchdown
It’s very shocking Franklin is still under the radar when you think about how productive he was last season as a true freshman. Franklin was young for a college freshman, starting the season at 17 years old and turning 18 during the season.
Franklin was a major focal point of the offense where he accounted for 30.18 percent of Western Michigan’s total offense, 69.83 percent of their rushing yardage, 45.45 percent of their total touchdowns and 82.76 percent of their rushing touchdowns.
I would like to see Franklin increase his reception total to around the 25-30 receptions. If he can improve this area of his game, then I would feel more confident about how his role in passing situations at the NFL level.
I feel if he could increase his yards per carry to around 6.0 during sophomore and junior years, then he could demonstrate that he could be more of an efficient runner. This would also curtail the criticism of not being efficient enough while playing lower-level competition.
Franklin is a big back at 6’0” and 220 pounds, and he uses every bit of his size when running the ball. He likes to get behind his pads before contact, and he uses his body as a battering ram to gain extra yards. He is hard to bring down in the open field, and it usually takes multiple defenders to tackle him.
Franklin has the size to be a three down back at the NFL level. I look for him to put on five to ten pounds during his college career because he’s still developing, and he’s going to have a few more years in Western Michigan’s strength and conditioning program.
Franklin’s not afraid to mix it up with a blitzing linebacker. I really love his willingness to block it shows that he likes to play physical, and he takes all phases of the game seriously. It takes a lot of guts being a 17-18 year old kid and having urgency to block defensive linemen and linebackers who are a lot bigger than you running at you at full speed.
That being said, Franklin will sometimes whiff during pass protection and get pushed back while getting bull-rushed by defenders. He was a freshman last year, and I expect pass protection mistakes this early in his career. Going forward, we need to pay attention to how he develops his skills as a blocker. Just from seeing the initiative he took while trying to make his blocks, I’m betting he’s going to develop into a solid pass protector.
Franklin is a very patient runner. He is very good at letting the holes develop before he makes his move. He never stutter-steps or uses wasted motion while hitting the hole. Sometimes he is too patient, which causes him to not get through the hole quick enough, but I think this is an issue he can remedy during the off-season.
I’m very impressed with Franklin’s vision for a player his age, he is very good at letting the play develop and making decisions quickly and efficiently. Vision is one of his major strengths, and it is one of his key attributes to his success.
Franklin doesn’t have elite speed. He’s not going to bust out many long runs. He’s not a home run hitter, but he does demonstrate a decent burst when running through the holes.
He can easily pick up as much as ten yards when the offensive line gives him a solid crease to run through. He has very quick feet that help him move laterally when he’s trying to make a cut-back in traffic.
Franklin’s footwork is very impressive for a guy his size. He can stop on a dime and change directions while maintaining balance. His footwork is going to be one his attributes that could set him apart from a lot of his peers when he comes out for the NFL Draft.
For Franklin to become an elite prospect in the future, he will need to get quicker and gain some speed. He will never be a burner, but if he works hard during his strength and conditioning camps at Western Michigan, then he may gain enough speed and explosiveness to elevate his draft stock.
Franklin embraces contact, and he usually doesn’t go down on the first hit. I saw a few plays where he dragged three defenders that were draped over him for a few extra yards. He has a knack for getting low before the initial contact and using his size to muscle through defenders. He has a running style that grinds out defenses. The toughness that he runs with is his greatest quality he as a runner, and it’s one of the first things that you notice while watching him on tape.
Franklin didn’t have horrible receiving production – 15 receptions for 168 yards and one touchdown – but it’s something he can improve on going forward.
Franklin often came out of the game during passing situations, which tells me he could have some issues separating while running his routes. It could also mean that Western Michigan had running backs on the roster with more experience in the passing game compared to Franklin, and the coaching staff felt more comfortable rolling them out on passing downs.
Keep in mind Franklin was just a freshman last year, and some parts of the game, like running routes, will develop more for him during his sophomore and junior seasons. We can’t be too critical about his receiving production, but it is something to note.
Franklin has ball security issues; he fumbled eight times last season while losing three of them. This is an issue that he needs to clean up to be considered a top prospect in the future.
He likes to over-insinuate, keeping the ball high and tight while having the ball tucked tightly against his chest. From this, I gather that the coaching staff has been working with Franklin on the fundamentals of securing the football. He does a good job in the open field being aware of his surroundings and keeping the ball secure from defenders.
Franklin reminds me a lot of T.J. Yeldon and Arian Foster, because he’s a three down back who has very quick feet and can win with power and short area quickness. Like Yeldon and Foster, he doesn’t have the home run hitting velocity, but his physicality and explosiveness are enough to supersede his lack of speed.
Franklin is bursting with potential, and what he does in the next couple seasons to amplify his development is going to be the key component to whether he can be a high-end NFL prospect or just another guy.
Franklin is a young prospect who’s easy for me to root for. He’s an underdog compared to some of the big-name prospects, and he has the potential to do some really good things if he continues to progress. He’s a player that you should keep in your mental rolodex for when he comes out for the NFL Draft.