With the draft over and our profiles on all seven of the Pittsburgh Steelers draft picks complete, we’re dipping our toe into the undrafted territory. We profiled a couple of them before the draft but most of the 13, we didn’t. Today, we’re breaking down one of the top UDFAs the team signed, RB Jarvion Franklin.
#31 Jarvion Franklin/RB/Western Michigan 6’0″ 240 Lbs
-Prototypical measurements and build for power back
-Patience runner in between the tackles with good peripheral vision
-Sets up defenders well with stacked moves, allowing him to slip past defenders despite lack of burner speed
-Keeps shoulders square to the line of scrimmage, allowing him to build up power as a runner
-Routinely powers through tackles around line of scrimmage
-Deceptive long speed
-Doesn’t always use his power as a runner; tends to look for juke instead of powering through
-Runs with a high pad level, leaving him open to big shots
-A ton of tread on his tires (1,003 career touches)
-Needs a runway to get up to speed with ball in his hands
-Has a bad habit of stopping his feet in the backfield in the face of a defender
-Set Western Michigan school record as a freshman with 24 rushing touchdowns
-Rushed for at least 1,200 yards in back-to-back seasons
-All-Time leading rushing in Broncos history
-Finished career with 4,867 rushing yards and 52 scores on 942 carries, added 62 receptions for 675 yards and four touchdowns
Coming out of Western Michigan, Jarvion Franklin was one of the more underrated running backs in the NFL draft, at least when it came to durability and production.
Franklin played a key role in the Broncos going 12-0 in 2016, rushing for more than 1300 yards and 12 touchdowns. While that was his coming-out party on the national stage, Franklin was as consistent and productive as any back in the nation, rushing for at least 5.1 yards per carry in three of his four seasons with the Broncos.
For a college back, Franklin is huge at 6-foot, 240 pounds. He was a man amongst boys at times in the MAC. But while Franklin usually bullied lesser defenders in the MAC over four years, his film left much to be desired as a power back with his size and build.
Despite being a heavy load to deal with out of the backfield, Franklin tended to look for the juke once the ball was in his hands, rather than lowering his shoulder to plow through tacklers.
Here against the Buffalo Bulls in 2017, Franklin takes the handoff out of shotgun, and instead of hitting the seam off of the tackle’s backside, Franklin bounces it outside to try and elude the defender, allowing the Buffalo defender to string him out, pushing him towards a second defender.
I’d like to see Franklin stick near the tackle’s backside and get as many yards through contact as he can. If he wants to stick in the NFL, he’ll need to embrace contact around the line of scrimmage in situations like this.
That being said, there’s still a lot to like about a guy like Franklin and his skillset.
Franklin is really fluid for his size in the open field.
Against Wisconsin here in the 2016 Cotton Bowl, Franklin looks as smooth as any back once he reaches his top speed. He hits the hole hard here, bursting up the field with speed and power. While he does slow down near the point of contact to try and pull off a spin move, I love the way he gets up the field in a hurry once the ball is in his hands.
Outside of being a power runner, Franklin can sprinkle in the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
While this is a simple wheel route out of the backfield, I like the way Franklin easily adjusts to the throw, isn’t worried about the incoming contact, and is able to plow through two tackle attempts for the score, all in on fluid motion.
Sure, he’s not going to be a guy that lines up in the slot and runs a full route tree like Le’Veon Bell, but in a pinch, he can catch the ball out of the backfield with solid, consistent hands, which is what you want out of a backup running back.
Overall, I can’t see Franklin making the team out of camp unless he buys into the power back mentality, a la Terrell Watson last summer. Franklin is certainly talented enough to warrant a spot on an NFL roster though.