From now until the 2020 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#5 Anthony McFarland/RB/5’8 208 lbs
- Has home run speed (4.44 40-yard dash)
- Speed to get to the perimeter and stretch defenses
- Very fluid athlete, difficult to square up on due to great lateral agility
- Will make defenders miss with his elusiveness
- Keeps legs moving through contact which leads to many broken tackles
- Hits the hole quick, great burst
- Playmaker who can turn nothing into a big play
- Extensive injury history dating back to high school
- Going to need more development as a pass protector
- Needs to anchor better if he wants to be a three down back
- Struggles in short yardage
- 2019: 114 carries, 614 yards, 8 rushing touchdowns
- Career: 245 carries, 1648 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns
- 24 career receptions for 199 receiving yards and 1 receiving touchdown
- Cracked 1000 rushing yards in 2018
- Set Maryland record for most rushing yards by a freshman in 2018
- 2018 Second Team All-Big-Ten by Media
- Limited by an ankle injury in 2019
- Career high 298 rushing yards vs Ohio State in 2018
- Leaves Maryland with six 100-yard games
There is nothing more fun to watch than an explosive and electric running back. Like a home run hitter, these running backs have the ability to alter the course of a game in just one play as they are always a threat to take it to the house. Maryland running back Anthony McFarland is not built like a slugger but he carries home run potential. With his speed, burst and agility, he is a major threat to take any play the distance and is a nightmare for defenses in space.
McFarland is like a mouse running around. He’s incredibly quick and agile and can change direction on a dime. That is what makes him so difficult to square up on in the open field. If given the space to operate, the Maryland running back will make defenses pay. He comes equipped with an extra hop in his step as he can accelerate very quickly. Watch as he takes this handoff, finds the hole, makes a man miss and walks into the end zone. This is not an easy play by any means but McFarland has the ability to make it look easy as he leaves one defender with his ankles broken and the rest of the Syracuse defense in the dust.
Speed is the name of the game and boy, does McFarland have some serious speed. He flashes it on his tape and then proved it at the NFL Combine where he ran a blazing 4.4 40-yard dash. Not only is this speed useful when it comes to him hitting second gear and taking it the distance but it also allows McFarland to stretch runs to the perimeter effectively. With his speed, the Maryland running back can consistently win runs to the edge in order to maximize the total amount of yardage.
The other intriguing trait with McFarland is his vision. He is a very decisive runner and wastes no time hitting the hole when it presents itself. When you align his vision with his impressive burst to the line of scrimmage, you get a very dangerous running backs that can quickly get to the second level. He does exactly that on the play above as he hits the hole quickly and picks up a big gain.
Now, McFarland checked in at the Combine at 5’8” and 208 lbs. Not numbers that would lead you to believe that the Maryland running back is a bruiser but sometimes the numbers can be deceiving. Due to his running style, McFarland actually breaks quite a few amount of tackles as he punishes defenses. A very competitive and tough runner, McFarland generates yards after contact as he keeps his legs churning through tackle attempts. There are many small and quick running backs who will go down on first contact but let it be known that McFarland is not one of those backs. He plays with a high level of toughness and will fight for every yard.
A running back with an absurd amount of speed, quickness and lateral agility and he only had 24 career receptions? Here is one area where I wish Maryland utilized McFarland more as I believe there is a ton of upside for him to be a real threat as a receiver out of the backfield. A team is going to realize how slippery and fluid in space McFarland is and plan to get the ball in his hands as a receiver. This would only play to his strengths as it would give him an open field to operate which is where he is most lethal.
The biggest knock on McFarland’s game tape is his pass protection skills. He is going to need to improve dramatically in this area. He often struggles with anchor and holding his own in the pocket and has a few mental whiffs as well, with one being highlighted on the play above. If he wants to hit his ceiling as a home run running back with receiving ability, he is going to have to vastly improve as a pass blocker.
Durability is also another concern with the Maryland running back. While he has only racked up 245 career carries at Maryland, he does have an extensive injury history. He broke his leg during his senior year in high school and then was bit by an ankle injury during the 2019 season. His tough running style may be contributing to this but McFarland’s injury issues are definitely going to be a topic that many teams look into.
When it is all said and done, McFarland’s film is very enjoyable and fun to watch. He brings the potential to hit a home run on every carry and he plays a lot tougher than his size. He can beat you to the end zone or to the perimeter. He can also make a man miss with his agility and that gives him a very high ceiling. There is certainly an abundance of potential for McFarland at the next level.
Projection: Late Day Two – Early Day Three
Games Watched: vs Syracuse, vs Temple, vs Purdue, vs Nebraska