Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect LJ Scott, RB from Michigan State. You can also check out all of our NFL Draft Prospect articles here. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
Two years ago, LJ Scott looked like he was going to be a key member of the running back resurrection committee. But injuries and diminishing stats have taken the shine off of the Spartan senior. Now we examine whether Scott has what it takes to be an under the radar selection or someone who simply should be off your radar altogether.
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]
Statistics from sports-reference.com.
The numbers show you the promise. In 2016 and 2017, Scott had over 1,000 all-purpose yards. Even in his freshman season where his yardage was lower, he still generated 11 touchdowns.
His senior season stats took a serious beating, but playing in less than half of your team’s contests will do that to you. Even when he was on the field, his rushing average took a major dip by over a yard per attempt, though some of that can be contributed to abysmal quarterback play and opponents stacking the box.
After missing three months, Scott returned for his team’s bowl game and was the featured back, carrying 24 times for 84 yards.
Scott will never be mistaken for a burner. Even before 2018’s ankle injury, he was more of a power back than someone who would run away from you. Most people probably remember him from his one-yard lunge into the end zone to beat Iowa in the 2015 Big Ten title game as a true freshman.
Scott displays a very good set of hands in the passing game. He catches everything that comes his way, and Michigan State will split him out wide on occasion. In the three games I watched, most of the Spartans’ explosive gains came from Scott in the screen game, picking his way down the field.
He does lack top-end speed and burst through the hole. However, he has excellent vision, which allows him to pick his way through the line of scrimmage or weave between blockers on a screen pass.
Scott is also an excellent blocker. While that won’t net you any fantasy points, I’m a staunch believer that if a rookie running back is a good blocker that leads to more snaps, and that eventually leads to more chances at carries and catches.
He did participate in the NFL Scouting Combine, checking in at 6-foot-0 and 227 pounds. His arms were 32 1/8 inches and he had a hand size of 9 3/8 inches.
While Scott didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the combine, he did participate in all the other drills. He had 21 reps in the bench press, which tied him for tenth among running backs. His vertical jump was 33 inches, while his broad was 120 inches, which was 13th in the running back division. Scott’s three-cone drill was 7.27 seconds, good enough for tenth among combine running backs. Scott’s 20-yard shuttle was 4.34 seconds, which was 12th-best.
Scott’s value is actually pretty low. He is rarely talked about on draft shows or in mocks since he is a day three NFL Draft prospect. I think this makes him a sleeper. Between his ability to catch the football and his track record early on in college, I think the traits are still there. If he lands somewhere that needs a receiving back, such as Oakland or Minnesota, I think he has a chance to be an RB3-4 in his rookie season.
In today’s NFL, with teams having a mix-and-match approach to their backfield, LJ Scott can find a role thanks to his receiving ability. He has traits NFL teams covet in the passing game (catching and blocking).
While he lacks burst, he is fast enough to get the job done, plus he was slowed by an ankle injury. If that has healed enough, you could find yourself with a late-round value.