Expert Opinion: Royce Freeman’s Profile
Over the span of Royce Freeman’s 4-year career, he was one of the most productive offensive players in the history of CFB – is only one of four players to accumulate 5,000 yards rushing and 800 yards receiving in their career. He became University of Oregon’s all-time leading rusher compiling 5,587 yards over 947 carries (5.9 yards/carry). To say he was the Duck’s workhorse is an understatement.
At 5’11”, 229 lbs, Freeman’s physical characteristics paint the picture of a heavy, bruising power-back for someone who has never seen him before. However, Freeman has impressive agility, light/quick feet, better than average maneuverability and excels running in-between the tackles. His 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle scores at the Combine validate that statement, ranking in the 72nd and 71st percentile, respectively. Quite impressive for a back ranking in the 86th percentile at the Combine in weight.
His size can be deceiving, though. He doesn’t run with the reckless abandon nor fearless nature you would like to see from someone his size. Freeman will occasionally be slowed down by an arm tackle and doesn’t give up his body unlike some smaller backs in this draft. Freeman will need to develop a more violent running style at the next level. Minor injuries impacted Freeman’s last two years at Oregon, leading to him missing a handful of games. A factor that may have influenced a less violent running style.
Freeman has strong intangibles, dependability, and leadership. After starting 4-1 in 2017, the Ducks’ lost starting QB, Justin Herbert, to a season-ending collarbone injury. Ultimately forcing Oregon to start their third-string QB. The offense lacked any passing threat and the offense solely focused around Freeman and the running game. Freeman relished taking on the responsibility of the offense and his leadership shines through on film and in interviews.
Overall, Freeman fits best in a zone running scheme and can play on all three downs. Freeman’s productive college career, intangibles and agility in a heavyweight frame project as a high-floor, low-risk prospect. His elite production will come at a discount as a 3rd-4th round selection. Although he won’t produce anywhere to the same numbers as he did in college, he will be a quality back and long-time NFL contributor.