NFL Draft

Evaluating The Value: RB Anthony McFarland

Many fans wanted the Pittsburgh Steelers to take a running back and with their first pick in the fourth round that is where they go.  This is a type of back they don’t usually add preferring bigger backs in the past. Anthony McFarland is 5’8” and 208 pounds with 4.44 speed.  This is the second speed player they have added to the offense.

If you want a glimpse of what he can do watch the first quarter of the 2018 Maryland-Ohio State game when he had and 81 yard run for a touchdown and followed that up a few minutes later with a 75 yard touchdown run before finishing that game with 298 yards.

As far as where McFarland was drafted it seemed like a reach from where the experts saw his value.

The NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah did not have him in his top 150.

Gil Brandt also did not have him listed in his hot 150.

Lance Zieirlein of gave him a 5.98 grade (6.0 Developmental traits-based prospect) giving him a sixth round grade. He had this to say, “McFarland runs hard, but he’s not that big and he’s not that creative, so he could struggle to find yardage for himself. A high-ankle sprain may have been at the root of his unimpressive 2019 tape, as he showed a little better burst and tackle-breaking ability in 2018, but in both seasons he needed either clear points of entry or to be operating in open space to get it going. His projection can’t just rely on a couple of splash performances from 2018. He appears to have low-end backup potential, but it’s worth noting that some NFL teams are much higher on him.”

Kyle Crabbs at the Draft Network opined, “Anthony McFarland Jr. is a high stepper with good contact balance, a knack for producing missed tackles and very good anticipatory feel for cutting back against the grain to create missed tackles in the box. McFarland Jr. has potential as a primary ball carrier, but would probably be best served to cede 3rd-down reps to a more accomplished pass blocker and receiver out of the backfield early in his career. More ideally suited for a rotational role in a ZBS heavy rushing offense.”

Our Daniel Valente said he was a very fluid athlete with homerun speed and elusiveness. Overall, “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.”

Valente game him a late day two – early day three grade.

Overall: This is adequate value pick in the fourth round.  He adds another speed element to the offense and won’t have any pressure to carry the load. He wasn’t used a lot in the passing game with only 24 receptions in 2 seasons. He has some injury history with leg and ankle issues but most running backs do with the role they play. There is potential here but there were other positional areas they could have added to that would be more helpful.

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