Rookie Profile – CJ Prosise, RB Notre Dame

Nathan Powell

Every year when it comes time to analyze a new crop of incoming rookies, many analysts begin to set tiers on Overall Big Boards as well as within position groups. This year, there is a clear RB1 for many in Ohio State Running Back in Ezekiel Elliott, then Derrick Henry seems to be in his own 2nd tier. And where the real intrigue in this class for me is that 3rd tier. One of the more intriguing prospects in that 3rd tier is Notre Dame Running Back CJ Prosise.

Prosise came to Notre Dame as a wide receiver and didn’t play a snap in his freshman season. During his sophomore year, he played in nine games and recorded seven receptions for 72 yards. During his junior season, Prosise began to develop a role in the offense as he caught 29 passes for 516 yards and two touchdowns. However, he was also used in the running game, averaging 12.6 yards per carry on 10 carries and he reached the end zone once. After seeing what he could do in the running game, Notre Dame moved him to running back for his senior season. Prosise flourished in the role of running back, averaging 6.6 yards per carry with 1,029 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Moving him into the backfield didn’t change the fact that he was a threat in the receiving game as he caught 26 passes for 308 receiving yards out of the backfield. Prosise has become a favorite of the dynasty metrics community, so let’s dive into his Mockdraftable web and comparables.

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One of the concerns with Prosise is that he is a pass catching back with smaller hands at only 8.5 inches, one thing that may help alleviate those concerns is Prosise’s measurements profile similarly to other backs who excel at catching passes out of the backfield, Devontae Booker (40 catches per season in college), Jeremy Langford (42 catches in rookie season), Charles Sims (203 catches in 4 college seasons, 51 catches in 2015). Prosise also has some interesting comparables at the wide receiver position, most similar to Justin Blackmon and Rod Gardner, as well as Eric Decker and Cordarrelle Patterson, who are both considered one of the better “athletes” in the NFL today.

Prosise is above the 60th percentile at the running back position for the 40 yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump, so while he may not be superior at one specific thing, he is above average everywhere on the chart except for hand size.

Now let’s take a look at his PlayerProfiler page.

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Two of his production metrics come out on the less than impressive side, his college dominator was only at 26.2 percent (46th percentile) and his breakout age was 21.3 (27th percentile), both of these imperfections can be attributed to being miscast to begin his career and having to change positions in his final year. The production metric where Prosise did excel was college yards per carry where he finished at 6.6 yards per carry (90th percentile). Prosise is far from the perfect prospect, his bottom 10th percentile in agility score, bench press and hand size are all things to take into account.

Now let’s take a look at his tape, courtesy of our friends at draftbreakdown.com.

While the tape is important for any player, seeing how a position convert is able to adjust to his new position is incredibly important, even if the stats certainly show that he and Notre Dame made the right move by changing position.

For this article, I will highlight a pair of his games. The first against the team that finished 2nd in the country, the Clemson Tigers who had a few players on defense who could be selected in the first round of this years NFL draft.

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Clemson picked up an early 14-0 lead in this game, so that led Notre Dame to become more pass heavy early on, but that didn’t necessarily mean the Tigers were respecting the pass, each time Prosise ran the ball early on, he was stopped at or behind line of scrimmage with minimal room to work with, he had -5 yards after his first six carries. Prosise did show in this game his ability to be a reliable check-down option when the quarterback was in trouble. At 7:14 in the clip, he gets some room to work with, but he fumbles after a 5-6 yard gain. At 8:13 and 9:14, Prosise shows off his receiving prowess with a pair of nice wheel routes with nice moves to get separation from the defender and got a pair of big gains and a touchdown. In the 2nd half in the running game, he was able to show off some nice moves and why I think he will be able to break tackles at the NFL level. Prosise profiles as a back that you want to get in space as often as possible, he isn’t the type of guy who you are going to go to up the middle on 4th and 2, but he is the guy who can get you eight yards on a toss on 3rd and 6.

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For the 2nd game, I looked at one of his better games this season, his 19 carry 143 yards and 2 touchdown performance against USC. In this game, Notre Dame was able to get him in space early and often. He showed explosive next level speed on a few runs where he just accelerates into the secondary to evade defenders. Prosise is able to show some patience in the backfield when he needs to wait for a play to develop, but that occasionally leads him to breaking it too far outside when there is room in the middle of the field. One thing I saw in this game that I didn’t see in the Clemson game was him successfully fighting for the extra few yards at the end of the play, I’d imagine some of that may have to do with facing a defense with nine freshman starting rather than a defense with a few All-Americans.

Summary

Notre Dame Running Back C.J. Prosise is an overall good athlete that tests/measures above average in most areas, but he does have some clear disadvantages to his game/profile. Prosise is considered ┬áby most in that 3rd tier of rookie running backs and he is being drafted at RB4 and 12th overall off the board. In a recent Twitter mock, NFL.com‘s Matt Harmon got him at 2.02 as the fifth running back off the board. I think this is a very palatable price for a running back with high receiving upside and at a price where you don’t need him to become a workhorse at the next level to pay off his price.

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