Name: Tyler Ervin
Born: October 7, 1993 (22 years old)
Position: Running back
Pro Team: Houston Texans
College Team: San Jose State
Draft Status: Fourth round, 119th overall
- Height: 5’10”
- Weight: 192
- Hand Size: 9 1/8”
- 40 Time: 4.41
- Bench Press: 17
- Vertical Jump: 39”
- Broad Jump: 130”
- Short Shuttle: 4.34
- 3 Cone Drill: 7.03
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- Quick feet
- Very good vision
- Generally very patient
- Follows blocks and play design, rarely bouncing runs unnecessarily
- High effort inside runner who is wholly unafraid of contact
- Catches the ball naturally
- Handled massive workload (339 touches in 2015) despite size
- Too small to be a volume runner
- Often makes unnecessary moves behind the line of scrimmage and in the hole
- Size makes even smallish hits seem big
- Sometimes gets ahead of himself and runs into offensive line
- Stuck behind a true three down player
The Houston backfield is fairly uninspiring behind starter Lamar Miller. Presumed backup Alfred Blue has proven to be a pedestrian two down thumper whose upright running style betrays his size and power. After Blue, things get less exciting still, with Jonathan Grimes and Akeem Hunt unlikely to be a huge threat to Ervin if he plays to his ability. It is conceivable the former Spartan could find himself as a change of pace and third down option when three down stud Miller needs a blow.
Ervin played out of the slot a bunch in college, giving him offensive weapon potential. We’ve seen that flame out time and again, but Darren Sproles, C.J. Spiller, and Reggie Bush have made it work, so we know it’s possible. Still, Ervin’s best chance to make an early impact will come as a kick and punt returner.
Miller is both good and locked up. His three-down prowess is going to be an issue for every running back on the Houston roster for as long as he is there.
As meh as Blue is, he did have a couple nice games down the stretch, albeit versus subpar opponents (Indy, Jacksonville) and is a near certainty to be number two on the depth chart. I can’t see a scenario where Ervin changes that.
Grimes is just a guy, but is fairly well rounded and probably a safe bet to keep his roster spot. If Miller goes down, he figures to mix in with Blue as he did last year with Arian Foster on the shelf.
At 5’10”, 190 pounds, and owning a 4.4 40, Akeem Hunt is a physical carbon copy of Ervin. Despite that, he lacks Ervin’s college production and draft pedigree, so he shouldn’t be a threat so much as a stepping stone. Hunt’s roster spot is most probably in jeopardy.
Those expecting Ervin to see time out of the slot, as he did often at San Jose State, should temper their enthusiasm as Braxton Miller profiles similarly but was taken 34 slots earlier and is seen as more of a pure pass catching prospect. Will Fuller and Jaelen Strong also figure to be roadblocks.
If your league counts kick return yardage, you are in luck! Ervin is dynamic on special teams and could be a primary player in that role this season. If your scoring is more traditional, things are probably not going to be great for you this year if you drafted Ervin.
Lamar Miller is an immoveable object in that offense, meaning Ervin’s best bet will be to carve out a hybrid pass game/slot type role similar to Dexter McCluster. The results aren’t likely to be special.
Watching Ervin on tape is something else. He is said to have been in the 175-180 pound range this past season but ran like a guy twice his size. Well, he tried to anyway; physics are a helluva thing when some guys have 500 McDonald’s Quarter Pounders on you. But it is that sort of effort combined with his football intelligence and supreme athleticism that could lead to fantasy worthiness.
My expectation is Ervin has some eye opening plays here and there but never quite finds his way to true fantasy relevance. The league just doesn’t use guys like him as anything other than gadget types who are better NFL players than fantasy producers.
NFL Player Comparison
His game is a mix of several of the guys I’ve already mentioned including Bush, McCluster, and Hunt.
Rookie Draft Advice
I generally like gambling in the mid-third, which is where Ervin is being drafted, but I’m not sure he is the guy I’d put my money on. I’d rather take a shot on Paxton Lynch, Carson Wentz, Wendell Smallwood, or Austin Hooper, all of whom are going between 3.05 and 3.12.
Ervin simply doesn’t have the upside to be an every week fantasy starter due to his size and how NFL teams see players of his ilk. The others I mentioned either have that upside or flip potential (I’m looking at Smallwood here), making them better investments.
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I haven’t seen him go before Wendell Smallwood in any recent drafts.
I appreciate the insight into his draft profile, but I wonder if you could speak to his utility as it relates to Miller owners looking to insure one of their more valuable players? Is Blue a better bet? I’m not a fan so I took Ervin with that in mind.
Agree on the Smallwood thing. When I wrote this several weeks ago, that wasn’t the case though.
With Ervin, even if Miller goes down, his best case is probably getting pass down and change of pace work. And unless they only keep three RBs, cutting Grimes along the way, I don’t think that work would be his alone.
It isn’t impossible, as I said in the article, but it is so crazy rare for a guy like Ervin to have fantasy value, it is hard for me to see it. The list of tiny explosive dudes who ended up mattering in fantasy is scary small.
Okay, thanks for the response, Jeff. Much appreciated.