When you play for a 2-10 Independent New Mexico State team that rarely has their games televised, it’s hard to garner much national spotlight no matter how talented you are.
If you play running back on said team? Fuhgettaboutit. Running backs come a dime a dozen anyway, right? Who’d pay you any attention during the draft cycle?
These are the problems facing NMSU running back and kick returner Jason Huntley. The media as a whole has been sleeping on him, but with some of the eye-popping numbers he’s posted, it wouldn’t be surprising if a few war rooms across the league are circling him as a late-round flier.
While many small school players have been hurt by the lack of Pro Days due to the Covid-19 outbreak, New Mexico State held their Pro Day on March 10, and Huntley put on a show.
Here are his results:
5-8 1/2 inch, 190 punds
4.37 40-yard, 21 bench reps, 39.5″ vert, 131″ broad, 7.19 3-cone, 4.25 shuttle
Huntley’s 4.37 40-yard dash time was faster than any running back at the NFL Combine, and though Pro Day 40 numbers can be slightly elevated, his overall numbers still paint a picture of an explosive accelerator.
To get a glimpse of how that acceleration looks on film, look no further than Huntley’s 14 carry, 191 yard, 3 touchdown performance against UTEP this year.
His burst up the middle and ability to beat defenders to the corner is impressive, but the most impressive part of Huntley’s game, despite his smaller stature, is an innate ability to break tackles.
With rare contact balance and a proclivity for shaking and baking every defender who stands in his way of the end zone, Huntley led all of college football in Sports Info Solutions’ Adjusted Broken Tackle Rate.
Simply looking at Huntley’s broken tackle numbers might lead one to believe that the lower level of competition he faced allowed him to break more tackles than usual. But with Adjusted Broken Tackle Rate factoring in how well his opponents tackle on average, Huntley was actually the most slippery running back in all of college football with over 100 carries.
A running back's broken tackle rate can be heavily influenced by the defense he's facing.
So what happens when we account for the defense to determine the toughest RBs to bring down?
Here are the adjusted broken tackle rate leaders among 2020 NFL Draft prospects. pic.twitter.com/8p5eoJc0YA
— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) April 7, 2020
Only three players in all of college football managed to average over 7 yards per carry this season on 150 attempts or more. Those names are Lynn Bowden Jr. (a receiver turned quarterback expected to be taken in the middle rounds), Travis Etienne (thought of as the top back in the draft before returning to school), and Huntley.
And although it’s often hard for late-round or PFA running backs to make it through final cuts at the end of training camp, Huntley will also have a chance to carve out a role as a return man, where his open field elusiveness shines. He brought back five of his 59 career kick returns for touchdowns, averaging 25.8 yards per return for his career.
Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers
7th Round — PFA