Most of the conversation around running backs in this 2017 class centers on whom to take with picks 1 to 5. Will it be Fournette, Cook, Mixon, or McCaffrey? However, if you have listened to the podcast at all over the last couple of months, you wouldn’t have missed Kareem Hunt.
Hunt began his freshman campaign in positive fashion with 866 yards and 6 rushing TDs. This was followed by an explosion in his 2nd season as he erupted for 1,631 yards and 16 TDs. Unfortunately for Kareem, he got side tracked thereafter as suspensions and ankle injuries hindered his junior campaign. Not to be deterred by the disappointment of his 2015 production, Hunt bounced back with a strong senior season.
What separates Hunt from a lot of the field though is his receiving chops. Although his rushing statistics are relatively impressive, part of why he is enamoured by Rich and Matt is because he reeled in 41 receptions for over 400 yards in his final season. A detailed summary of Hunt’s Toledo production can be seen below:
Coming in to the combine a lot was expected of Hunt, and people were left slightly disappointed when his performance was somewhat “mediocre”. Measuring in at 5’10”, 216 pounds, Kareem ran a 4.62 40-yard dash, crushed out 18 reps on the bench press, had a 36.5-inch vertical, as well as a 119-inch broad jump. However, what shows on tape sometimes outweighs physical measurements.
What’s important to note is that Hunt’s shiftiness forced the most tackles in the nation in 2016 with 98. He also has the best fumble rate in this draft class; fumbling only once on 856 career carries.
The Nerds aren’t the only team high on Hunt. Pro Football Focus’ Analysis team stated, “”[Hunt] has limited pass-protection experience, but otherwise could be an every-down back from the start if needed.” Furthermore, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein comments that, “[Hunt has a] compact body with broad frame and muscular legs. He has above-average agility for his size and possesses the hips and feet to elude darting defenders in backfield. Hunt uses effective jump-cuts to avoid the sludge and shift to the open gap. Runs with good vision and overall instincts. Presses the line before making backside cuts. Conforms his run to changing space within running lane.” His vision is what impresses me the most. He seemingly always managed to find the right hole and has the Leveon Bell-esque patience to let the o-line set up channels.
One slight concern with Hunt is that he can sometimes lack the explosiveness of other big backs to break off long runs. Too often he is stopped for a short gain and unable to turn them into a first down. Moreover, Hunt has seen his weight fluctuate. Prior to the combine at the senior bowl, he weighed in at 208 pounds. Some people question whether that size can sustain a full time role in the NFL. You often see these questions raised with the likes of Ameer Abdullah at this weight. However, Devonta Freeman and Maurice Jones Drew can sometimes put that to bed.
According to Player Profiler, Hunt’s physical attributes, workout metrics and college production line-up similarly to that of Isaiah Crowell; another RB in the Cleveland area with a growing value as of late.
If you’re still scratching your head as to why Rich and Matt are big fans, last month Hunt announced “I will be a Browns fan until I die.” These Ohio kids always sticking together…..