Position: Running Back
Birthday: February 15, 1997 (20.5 years old)
Listed height: 5’9”
Listed weight: 192 lbs
It took one entire game for Myles Gaskin to seize the spotlight in Washington’s running game as a true freshman. He finished that season with eight games of over 100 rushing yards, capping it off with a trailblazing 181 yard, four touchdown effort against Southern Miss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. This early, meteoric rise comes as little surprise when you watch him play. His running style exhibits maturity beyond his years, using technical refinement to overcome deficiencies in size and athleticism.
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As a Recruit
Gaskin received a pedestrian .8791 (3-star) 247 Composite grade as a high schooler. He was only the 34th-ranked running back and generally boasted an unspectacular profile. There wasn’t much indication that the Huskies would be getting a two-time (and counting) 1,300 yard rusher in Gaskin.
Gaskin’s incredible freshman campaign was both explosive and steady: He ran for over 120 yards six times and for under four yards per carry in just one game when receiving a decent share of touches. His final efficiency tally came in at 5.7 yards per carry. The Husky took advantage of Sacramento State and Southern Miss to score half of his 14 total touchdowns, good enough for second in the PAC-12.
The Washington native got off to a relatively slow start in 2016, but took off after his first four games against two solid and abysmal rushing fronts apiece:
His production came back down to Earth after as the running game struggled against USC, Washington State, and Alabama in the second half of the season. Still, the midseason breakthrough was enough to push Gaskin over 1,300 yards once again. Altogether, his stats plateaued in 2016 and the only noticeable difference between the two seasons was a slight uptick in receiving production. Still, merely repeating his 2015 campaign wasn’t a terrible result.
On the Field – Strengths
As mentioned in the introduction, Gaskin is already a well-developed runner. He has added NFL-level maturity to his game which can be seen throughout his 2016 play. His size is a detriment that will be detailed soon, but he makes up for that deficiency pretty well with low pad level, an attacking mentality, and driving legs.
Here’s Myles Gaskin with a lesson on how to finish forward pic.twitter.com/B4qtp1aBw5
— Steve Gill (@twitrsports) June 14, 2017
Vision is no problem either. His 93% hole Identification Rate from my game charting hit my checkmark just fine while he showed advanced ability to read blocks downfield in flashes.
Despite just 25 career receptions to his name, Gaskin projects pretty well to an NFL passing game. He does about as well as he can in pass protection, with solid technique and an appropriate level of aggressiveness. His hands looked natural in glimpses, so despite the small volume, I have few doubts about him as a pass-catcher.
As hinted before, Gaskin possesses legitimately good agility, which on its own doesn’t offer a lot. However, his advanced understanding of the game has shown to work well with this agility. The result of this combination is surprisingly-nice elusiveness. He’s a great bet to make at least one tackler foolish each game, which is a great asset for a player hurting for play-breaking attributes.
On the Field – Weaknesses
It’s just as easy to explain Gaskin’s second-year stagnation as his first-year explosion. In year one, he was already a well-refined back who showed nuance to his game that few other eighteen-year-olds would. The second edge to this sword is that Gaskin had little else to develop.
Gaskin’s athleticism should be good enough to be an NFL back, but it’s certainly ordinary. He’s a smooth runner who can adjust to blocks quite well, but that’s about where his strengths as an athlete end. He doesn’t have the quickness to squirt through closing spaces, his acceleration isn’t breathtaking, and his open-field speed is negligible. Pretty-good athleticism will probably be enough for him to make holes at the next level, but I can’t see him generating many more yards after that.
Unfortunately, Gaskin is also cursed by a small frame. There was a notable lack of strength to his game. At times, he was thrown far off course by arm tackles. In other instances, his legs died at impact. No matter how hard and well he tries, he’ll always get beaten by adept pass rushers. Defenders will only get bigger and become better tacklers in the NFL, certainly a concern for someone who has struggled with strength already. Just as troublesome is that he looks to have filled his frame at about 190 pounds already, making it unlikely he can add much more power without trading away some of his precious athleticism.
All things considered, it’s generally pretty difficult to use prior seasons to project a player’s skill as a prospect upon entering the draft. However, there doesn’t seem to be a wide range of outcomes for Gaskin. It’s unlikely for him to add any additional muscle to his frame as he’s simply not that big. He wasn’t a particularly explosive athlete in 2016 and there’s no real reason to believe that will change either. On the bright side, there’s no need to project development to his mental game because he’s already well-refined in those departments.
That same sort of greater view to Gaskin’s career is similar to a closer, play-by-play look at him as a prospect. With good-enough athleticism and solid vision, he should make the use of whatever his offensive line creates for him.
There’s certainly much worse to ask for than a high-floor, low-ceiling running back, but when considering how much of the rushing production equation goes down to creativity and explosiveness, Gaskin is a bit of a disappointing devy pick. You can make a pretty confident bet on what he turns out to be as a player, but most of his NFL success will probably come down to his surroundings. He should be good enough to play in a pinch for any team and could conceivably start for a team with a dearth of high-end backs. He’d be pretty replaceable in the latter situation, but a year or two behind a solid offensive line before he’s replaced could mean you’re getting RB2 production in a young back, with the ability to flip him before his time is up.
Ultimately, Gaskin slots into the teens for me as a devy prospect, primarily because his floor is quite high–even if he disappoints in 2017, you could probably turn around and flip him for approximately even value. That’s pretty good for someone who can produce at a decent NFL level if things break his way.
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