Looking at Daniel Lasco’s bio, it seems as though he was born to carry the football. When I asked him when he realized the dream to play football was for him
“I’ve always had a burning passion for football ever since I was introduced to it at the age of 6.”
Upon graduating Woodlands high school, he was a four-star recruit according to ESPN and Scouts and earned three stars from both Lemming and Rivals. Among these organizations, he was rated as high as 13th (Tom Lemming) and as low as 25th (Rivals) among all high school running backs. Overall, he ranked as the 30th in the state of Texas and No. 44 by Rivals.
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He redshirted his freshman season at Cal in 2011. The next season he played in all 12 games coming off the bench. His sophomore season he got his first start and finished with 317 yards on 67 carries and two touchdowns.
Lasco’s 2014 season was no joke, he started the season as a Doak Walker Award candidate and finished being named honorable mentioned by the Pac-12 coaches after rushing for 1,115 rushing yards on 210 carries which resulted in 12 touchdowns. In his 11 starts in 12 games played, he averaged 92.9 yards per game and scored at least one touchdown in 10 consecutive games, which included seven straight on the ground. His receiving skills also came to play as he caught 33 balls for 356 yards and two scores.
His total yards from scrimmage was the most since Jahvid Best combined for 1,826 yards in 2008. Lasco had five 100-yard rushing games, including three of his last four. He was also named the team captain. Then his senior season happened. Partly because of injury, Lasco finished his career at Cal with 331 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 65 carries.
Players like Lasco sometimes disappear after having a great season. An injury will force them out of the limelight and moves focus to other players. he sporadically played in 2015, only nine games, but finished with 331 yards on 31 carries (5.09 yards per carry average) and three touchdowns. These are numbers of a mediocre season and why he was lost in the rubble of other players. Then the NFL combine came calling, and a healthy Lasco was on stage.
He left with scouts eyes looking like cash signs and a booster rocket on his draft status. Where did this all come from, and should we be surprised by his performance?
“I trained out in Carlsbad California at a facility called EXOS. I knew going into the combine I put all the work in to be great. I had no idea it was going to be that good.”
So, not only did he surprise all around him, he was taken back a little himself. Lasco was an absolute beast in the combine. He then went to his Pro Day and backed up his combine performance. His Pro Day results were just as impressive as Lasco continued to excel from his impressive combine performance, running 6.80 seconds in the 3-cone drill and 4.13 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle. Those times would have been first and second among tailbacks.
By looking at these graphs with thanks to MockDraftable.com, Lasco was in the top 80 percent of running backs in the 40-yard dash (83rd percent) 60-yard shuttle (88th percent), and broad jump (100 percent). He was better than 70 percent of running backs in the bench press (74 percent), and arm length (78 percent).
Areas of concern come into play with hand size (37 percent), three cone drill (13 percent), 20-yard shuttle (44 percent), height (66 percent), and weight (33 percent). I am not concerned about his hand size as he won’t be targeted very much in the passing game and his height and weight are proportionate to his body; it’s the three cone and 20-yard shuttle.
In the three-cone drill, it measures the way a player moves in a straight line, uses his linear power and multi-directional speed and braking. The drill is more important to defensive ends, cornerbacks, and wide receivers, but it does carry some valued weight. In the 20-yard shuttle is a test of agility including speed, explosion, and changing of directions.
Lasco is the fitting image of a jack of all trades but master of none. He runs with aggression and hits the line of scrimmage with authority and is versatile and technically sound with running the ball and pass blocking. He is skilled enough to work down the line of scrimmage and beat the backside pursuit. He doesn’t waste any time cutting and juking his way before hitting the line of scrimmage.
The former Bear will find a way to make positive yards even when the blocking has broken down and will use his low pad level to bull his way through the trash in front. He is intelligent in reading the defense.
“My biggest strength is my awareness and football IQ. I constantly work on improving every part of my game it’s never just focused on one.”
He has good control of his body and can use his balance to outmaneuver opponents. His pass receiving athleticism is in the upper tier. He can make the twists and contort his body to make the catch and turn up the field in a smooth motion.
His press-and-cut skills as a zone runner are adequate and should only get better with additional experience and work at pressing as deep as possible towards the line before executing the cutback. He has enough burst to get through creases and beat backside pursuit working down the line of scrimmage.
He also gets his pads low, keeps his legs moving, and makes smart decisions to get down hill when his teammates can’t make their blocks. He is strong enough to power through defensive backs or lower pads for extra yards against smaller linebackers. He is more of a north/south runner who gets the extra yards through grit or using other maneuvers in his arsenal but will get himself into trouble as he becomes reliant on these techniques too often and will become an easy tackling target.
When it comes to gaining extra yards with his change of direction skills, he will falter and As evidenced by his 40-yard time he has the speed to get around the edge, but will falter when he needs to take the ball inside.
“Which is often a tell that he’s either not confident in his long speed or burst, or he’s aware of its limitations,” draft guru Matt Waldman said.
Lasco is someone you want in space, but won’t in a one-yard or goal line situation. He will have a hard time going against the defensive tackles or linebackers, but has the 0-to-60 burst that NFL teams covet.
Lasco told the Sacramento Bee “I know I can fit any organization, any offensive style. I’ve played in every single one. I understand defenses. My football IQ is very high, and it’s not going to be hard for me to adjust to any system I’m going into.”
The former Cal product also understands what it takes to be successful in the NFL.
“Our skill set only takes you so far. It’s the hard work that goes on behind the scenes which makes you into a great player.”
Daniel Lasco has limitations to his game that will raise questions marks, but he has the heart and desire to learn how to turn those limitations into strengths. He may never be an every-down back, but he can offer a team the third-down role, and become part of the special teams unit. He has had the injury bug, but has fought through them. If he can learn to utilize his change of direction skills better and learn when to use his long-speed burst he can become a very dangerous runner that teams will be rewarded with by taking the gamble on.
All stats from calbers.com unless linked to source.
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