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Rookie Player Profile: Ameer Abdullah

SWOT

Combine

  • 40-yard dash: 4.60 seconds
  • Bench Press: 24 reps @ 225 pounds
  • Vertical: 42.5”
  • Broad Jump: 10’1”
  • 20-yard Shuttle: 3.95 seconds
  • 3-cone Drill: 6.79 seconds

Highlight Video

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Strengths

Without a doubt, the biggest strength in Ameer Abdullah’s game is his field vision and his ability to find cutback lanes. He is a very patient runner who does a great job of running behind his pads. In addition to this, he also exhibits an exceptional ability to move laterally and make cuts on a dime. He’s also strong, putting up a very impressive 24 reps of 225 pounds at the combine while displaying plenty of short area explosiveness.

In three seasons as a starter for the Cornhuskers, he improved his yards per carry from 5.0 as a sophomore to 6.0 as a junior and finished his senior season with a 6.1 yards per carry average. He is very strong in the passing game as well, catching a total of 73 passes for 690 yards and seven touchdowns in his college career.

Weakness

While he’s proficient in catching the ball, his biggest weakness is one which plagues too many rookie runners, his ability to pass block. If he’s going to be a three down back for the Lions he is going to have to figure out a way to keep Matthew Stafford from getting destroyed.

While his height isn’t a glaring weakness, it would be nice if he was an inch or two taller to make up for his less than spectacular 40-time. In an era of the NFL where linebackers are running 40-yard dashes in the 4.4 range, you need your running backs to be fast. What Abdullah lacks in stopwatch speed he appears to make up for on the field.

Opportunities

Led by Joique Bell and Reggie Bush, the Lions finished the 2014 season ranked 28th in rushing. There were some growing pains as Joe Lombardi installed his offense in the Motor City. He didn’t have the personnel on the offensive line or in the backfield to effectively run his outside zone plays. The Lions went back to the drawing board and now plan on using more of a power scheme. They selected guard Laken Tomlinson, a hellacious road grader from Duke University, in the first round of the draft.

Reggie Bush is now playing his ball in San Francisco and Joique Bell is recovering from offseason Achilles and knee surgeries. Achilles injuries make me incredibly nervous. If players rush back too early it always leads to setbacks or other related injuries. The absence of Bell at OTAs has given Abdullah the opportunity to impress his coaches.

Threats

The biggest threat to Ameer Abdullah’s fantasy outlook will be Joique Bell at the goal line and Theo Riddick in the passing game. Neither Bell nor Riddick offer the total package Abdullah brings to the table. Bell could be used as a short yardage specialist in order to prevent unnecessary excessive hits on Abdullah. Riddick flashed legitimate skills in the passing game in 2014 by catching 34 of 50 targets for 316 yards and four touchdowns.

As Lombardi has shown in the past with the Saints, he’s not afraid to use a running back committee full of specialists like Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson and Darren Sproles. In Detroit, Abdullah would fill the Thomas role, Bell the Ingram role and Riddick the Sproles role – that is unless one of them clearly outplays the other two.

Expectations & Rookie Draft Advice

If he continues impressing the coaching staff into training camp and Bell struggles to return to full health, it’s not inconceivable to think Abdullah can put a stranglehold on this starting gig. With legitimate playmakers like Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate at wide receiver and second year tight end Eric Ebron at Matthew Stafford’s disposal, this team is going to be as aggressive as any in the league.

Even though he’s currently being selected as the fifth rookie running back of this class, I fully expect his ADP to rise and eventually nip at the heels of Melvin Gordon by the time preseason rolls around. I would take him over T.J. Yeldon and Tevin Coleman every time. I believe the Lions offense is exponentially better than Jacksonville’s and I just think Abdullah is a better player than Coleman.

With all the question marks throughout the running back position this year, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him finish inside the top 20 fantasy rushers in PPR leagues.

NFL Comparison

Giovani Bernard

Bernard and Abdullah both offer many of the same traits. I hope people who have a bad taste in their mouth from Bernard and his new role don’t view this as a negative. They both catch the ball well, but Bernard came into the league as a better pass blocker. They both excel in the open field and have knack for fighting through trash.

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Eric Olinger
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