It wasn’t a primary need for the team, but with the release of C.J. Anderson a few weeks before the draft, there was no doubt that the franchise was in need of another set of legs to help propel their rushing attack to greater success for the coming season. After selecting premier pass rusher Bradley Chubb in the first round and high-profile wide receiver Courtland Sutton in the second round, the Broncos finally landed their running back of the future when they selected University of Oregon standout Royce Freeman.
Name: Royce Freeman
Position: Running Back
For the past two years in my Future Broncos series, I consistently raved about Freeman and routinely pounded the table for him to be drafted by our beloved franchise. One of collegiate football’s most prolific runners, Royce finished his career with the Ducks as the seventh most productive rusher all-time in the NCAA with 5,621 rushing yards. He racked up 60 rushing touchdowns during his career, ranking him first in Pac-12 history and tenth all-time in the NCAA. If productivity is what you are looking for—the search is over.
Freeman demonstrated time and time again at the University of Oregon that he had a nose for the end zone and proved to be one of the most dynamic backs in the nation. He was so good in college that a lot of analysts and media outlets are confident that trend will continue as Freeman rolls on to take on the rigors of the NFL. Bucky Brooks believes that he will be one of the most successful rookies at the position in the entire league, while Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News thinks Freeman is in contention for Rookie of the Year honors.
As mentioned in my scouting report on Freeman prior to the draft, Royce possess a lot of great qualities which will help him make an immediate impact as a rookie. A lot of people have compared him to the aforementioned Anderson, but I saw a lot of Matt Forte to his game while evaluating him over the past several seasons. Whether it’s getting the crucial third and short conversion, punching the ball in near the goal line or hauling in receptions out of the backfield, you can count on Freeman to get the job done. Feel free to read over my scouting report to get more in-depth analysis on him as a prospect and to see what he can bring to the table for the Broncos’ offense.
There weren’t many things I was too concerned about while evaluating Freeman, but my primary issue with him is he has over 1,000 total touches. That’s a lot of tread on his tires for a collegiate back entering the league. However, Freeman spun that as a positive throughout the draft process and told teams it is proof that he has great durability and the ability to be a workhorse back in the league. One of the other concerns I have is his lack of a breakaway gear, but he still possesses quality speed for a back his size.
“Growing up, I really try to take running styles from everybody. I feel like as a back, if you can take intangibles from all of the backs around the league, the highest level the NFL is, it will make me a better player. I honestly couldn’t model after one in particular. I watched highlights growing up and doing all of that. I feel like I have watched them all. They are the best.” — Royce Freeman during his rookie press conference at Dove Valley
You can count me in as one of those who believe that Freeman will make a significant impact as a rookie. There is no doubt in my mind that he has all the talent and ability to become the franchise’s primary rusher not only this season, but for years to come. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Freeman is the opening day starter for the Broncos at the position come September.
Will Royce Freeman be the Broncos’ leading rusher in 2018?
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