A few weeks ago, I released my Top 100 board for the NFL Draft. Johnathan Franklin, the Bruins all-time leading rusher checked in at 85 overall and is my fourth rated running back behind Le'Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy and Giovani Bernard. The ranking in the 80s isn't an indicator of my lack in his abilities, but signifies the depth in other positions in this class. Despite the aforementioned movement of Franklin up boards, I am still content with my rankings. However, I feel that Franklin is a quality prospect who is NFL ready and contribute immediately as a rookie.
At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Franklin checked in at 5'10 and 205 pounds. He stood out in the 40 yard dash, registering between 4.40 and 4.49 seconds which were among the best times recorded at his position. He had an impressive 60 yard shuttle (11.33 seconds) and did well with 18 reps on the combine. Additionally, this quality prospect looked fluid and smooth in his drills and those successful continued into March. According to Gil Brandt, he looked outstanding in position drills at his Pro Day in March -- displaying good hands and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield (no drops). This wasn't just a one time wonder scenario. Franklin would be a tremendous asset to the Broncos because of his exceptional receiving ability, which shows up on tape as he registered 33 receptions (averaging 9.8 per reception) in a highlight reel season that earned him All-Pac 12 honors. Listed below is my analysis of him as a player.
- Quick and speedy enough to bound outside and threaten to score on the edges
- Plays much bigger than his weight, displaying toughness and physicality on inside runs
- Great vision and cutback ability, does not dance or waste moves
- Excellent patience and reads his blocks well
- Tremendous receiving ability, which makes him a quality fit in a Manning-led offense
- Durable, with little if any injury concerns
- Team leader, smart and passionate about football
- Dedicated in the weight and film rooms
- Highly educated and driven, aspires to become mayor of Los Angeles
- Fumbling issues for most of his career, but significant improvement as a senior
- Needs refinement in pass protection
- Upper body strength is average
- Gets tripped up easily
- Might not be the "big back" the Broncos are rumored to be adding this off-season
ESPN's KC Joyner believes that Franklin will end up being one of the best value selections of the draft. In his metric ratings, he average 10.1 GBYA (Good Blocking Yardage Per Attempt) which measures a players effectiveness on the ground when receiving quality blocking, which dwarfs other prospects in this draft. Word out of scouting circles is that Franklin has drawn favorable comparisons to Frank Gore, Doug Martin and Maurice-Jones Drew. This is certainly high praise, and if he is able to live up to those abilities, he would certainly be worth the Denver Broncos first round selection. But the question is: will he be in the mix for the Broncos at #28? With praise such as this, it is no wonder why Franklin has been swiftly moving up boards across the league.
Despite these recent rumors, I doubt Franklin is in the mix for the Broncos at 28. While second-year running back Ronnie Hillman may not have as much potential as Franklin, their skill-set is relatively similar. There is no doubt that Franklin is a much better runner on the inside, but isn't light years ahead of Hillman (who was the youngest player in the NFL last year) in other aspects of the game to warrant such a selection. My money is on the Broncos adding more "thunder" to the stables with a guy in the mold of Lacy, Bell or Michael and allowing Ronnie to grow and develop in complimentary roll in our offense. Personally, I would not be upset with the Broncos selecting this dynamic prospect in a trade down from our first round pick, but believe that adding youth to our defense will be the primary goal come Thursday night.
Johnathan Franklin Career Caption
Career Statistics: 788 carries, 4,488 yards (5.7 average) and 31 touchdowns. 59 receptions, 528 yards (8.9 average) and 3 touchdowns.
Highlight Performances: 2012 (Rice, Nebraska, Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford [Pac-12 Championship], USC)
Poor Performances: 2012 (Stanford [Regular Season], Washington State, Oregon State, Utah, Baylor)
If you are interested in game tape from his 2012 season, please visit DraftBreakdown.
Once again, thanks for reading and I would welcome you all to follow me on Twitter @topherhart for more news and reports coming in regards to the Denver Broncos and the 2013 NFL Draft.