- College: Minnesota
- Height: 5’8” | Weight: 203 lbs. | Age: 24.5
- Archetype: Power | Modifier: Workhorse
- Games Watched 2022: Illinois, Penn State, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Wisconsin
- NFL Draft Projection: Day 3/Priority UDFA
With three solid seasons under his belt, many thought Mohamed Ibrahim would declare for the NFL Draft following the Covid-shortened 2020 campaign. Through his first three seasons, Ibrahim had averaged nearly 20 carries and more than a touchdown per game. Highlighted by massive bowl game performances in 2018 and 2019, there was plenty on film for this Golden Gopher to turn pro. Many draft analysts at the time had Ibrahim squarely pegged for Day 2, and several believed he could go in the first round.
However, Ibrahim elected to return to Minnesota for his senior season. On the opening night of the 2021 college football season, in a primetime performance versus the juggernaut Buckeyes, Ibrahim had a night Gopher fans won’t soon forget. Overmatched yet undeterred, Minnesota fought toe-to-toe with Ohio State for the better portion of three quarters. Ibrahim played a starring and irreplaceable role in the Gopher effort that night. He registered 30 carries, 163 yards, and two touchdowns before a routine broken tackle and attempted cut ruptured Mohamed’s left Achilles. With his 2021 season finished, many feared his NFL draft hopes would follow.
Primarily focused on the results of Cam Akers and James Robinson in 2022, the fantasy community remains split, if not pessimistic, on running back viability post-Achilles. While he is only one case, Ibrahim may be our best example of an RB returning to form following a ruptured Achilles. Before the Achilles injury, he was on a nine-game streak of rushing for over 100 yards each game. Healthy already for the opener in 2022 against New Mexico State, he managed to carry that streak through the first ten games of the 2022 season. When 2022 concluded, Ibrahim had set the Minnesota single-season records for carries, rushing yards, and touchdowns.
Age and injury history surely will be the prevailing narrative around his draft and dynasty profile. However, it’s important to remember that through a film and production lens, Ibrahim is an incredibly talented ball carrier. Every question he could answer, he managed to do so. His film deserves the context of age but is also a tremendous feat of resiliency. Ibrahim is a feel-good story that is coming at a dynasty discount. Let’s dig into the film of this talented Gopher!
Stoutly built at 5’8”, Ibrahim plays with terrific pad level, exhibits excellent contact balance, and is a terror in the red zone. While not a home run threat, he consistently reads and creates chunk plays. Capable of carrying the ball 25+ times in a game, in-game durability won’t be a concern as he transitions to the NFL.
Vision and Pad Level
The experience of five years on campus shows out in Ibrahim’s senior film. The ability to identify and manipulate the free defender sticks out as you watch Mo pick up 20-30 carries each game. Combined with his ability to run underneath your kitchen table at full sprint, he consistently dodges, ducks, dips, and dives for yardage between the tackles.
Ibrahim aggressively presses the running lane and does an excellent job keeping his feet underneath him as he changes direction. Under control, he shows some post-Achilles forward burst, beating the over-committed safety to the open field. Never a breakaway runner, Ibrahim will get chased down in the open, but the damage is already done.
A pair of runs, the first a demonstration of good pad level. Ibrahim knows he only needs two yards to move the sticks. Understanding the situation, he’s all business at first contact and casually gains five yards on forward lean. The second play again demonstrates Ibrahim manipulating the free defender and creating after-contact. A blitzing safety crashes into the intended hole, and Mohamed does well to feel the cutback lane.
Short in stature and with an impressive 30.86 BMI, Mohamed is built for and embraces contact. While he is shiftier than often credited, many of Mo’s created yards come from breaking and bouncing off tacklers.
A well-blocked split-zone concept leaves Ibrahim one-on-one with an unblocked safety. This play is a worthy example of his elusiveness and contact balance working in tandem, as the spin move mostly makes the defender miss. However, there is enough contact to force him to gather before finishing the run with the shoulders leading.
Rarely stopped cold in his tracks, here is another example where Ibrahim would not be denied. Third and twelve, backed up and on the road, why not give the ball to your best offensive weapon? The safety gets a free run at Ibrahim, but the feet never quit for the Minnesota runner, and he stumbles for nearly six extra yards. It isn’t pretty and doesn’t appear in the box score. However, few players get the most out of every carry in the way Ibrahim does.
Red Zone Freight Train
The defining characteristic of an average Ibrahim game is red-zone efficiency. Minnesota struggled to throw the ball consistently in 2022 and often relied on a solid offensive line and their tailbacks to score once driving.
Another clip is shown here featuring a pair of runs. Both runs are examples of the Gophers leaning on Ibrahim in the red zone, but they also stand to reinforce the skillsets highlighted above. Good vision and feel for the soft spot in the defense put the offense inside the five. Then we see a terrific freeze frame on the touchdown, showing precisely the type of pad level that makes him so tough to stop in his tracks.
A final clip montage that I’ll let mostly speak for itself. The game is available for the taking, and Ibrahim grabs the yoke. While more than one positive trait appears in the five carries, notice that every carry moves the team forward. Every carry maximizes the available blocking and space. Finally, Ibrahim finishes the drive as he often does. Not high-stepping or launching himself into the stratosphere. Instead, he finds a small crease to burrow into and score, simple and effective.
Despite an ultra-accomplished career as a runner, we’ve noted that Ibrahim will not likely create game-breaking plays at the next level. He lacks top-end long speed, a trait often overrated at running back, but worth citing. Additionally, despite his evident talent with the ball in his hands, Ibrahim only managed to catch 22 passes over a 40-game career.
Unfortunately for Ibrahim, a lack of pass-catching opportunities wasn’t his only shortcoming on passing downs. He also routinely missed blitzing defenders and often failed to block those he identified. While pass-pro is often a skill set that needs developing at the NFL level, I think Ibrahim is unlikely to grow in this area beyond a mediocre level. This apparent weakness does not outright eliminate his fantasy viability, especially for those in standard scoring formats. However, it makes Mohamed Ibrahim amongst the few dynasty-relevant players whose landing spot is more critical than draft capital. Let’s transition to how we should treat Ibrahim’s dynasty profile.
- Upside Prospect Comp: Alfred Morris
- Floor Prospect Comp: Jaret Patterson
- Rookie Position Ranking: RB15
- SuperFlex Draft Range: 4th through 5th round
As mentioned, we can abandon draft capital and focus more on potential landing spots concerning Ibrahim. In the opening profile, I noted that he is not guaranteed to be drafted. I think it is more likely that he does than doesn’t, but the point worth making is that the latter may be preferential. Ibrahim can handle an immediate workload as a rookie in the right situation. Choosing his destination could create fantasy opportunities.
However, regardless of how he finds his future first stop in the NFL, several indicators would perk my interest as a dynasty manager. My upside player comp for Ibrahim was Alfred Morris. That said, the path to success, in my estimation, looks similar to that of James Robinson. Undrafted to one of the worst teams in the NFL, despite elite testing and production numbers, many wrote off Robinson before his career started. With poor quarterback play and minimal reason to push the envelope, the Jaguars fed Robinson repeatedly through his first NFL season. Similar situations exist around the current NFL. While some will address RB with significant draft capital in this talented class, running back has been devalued league-wide. Mohamed Ibrahim represents a lifeline to a team that isn’t ready to invest at RB but still needs someone to eat carries.
The other scenario worth noting exists on the other end of the spectrum and requires far less elaboration. If Ibrahim lands in a top-five scoring offense and can earn 200+ carries, it’s a near certainty he would outperform his eventual rookie draft range.
Age is something that gets discussed often when a player is a prospect. However, it also gets quickly forgotten once they are productive rookies or first-contract players. Already nearly 25 years old, no one should expect Ibrahim gets a second NFL contract. The key to harnessing the value from an asset like Ibrahim or Robinson in our previous example is understanding when to divest. I advise hoarding as many late shares as possible this draft season and being ready to sell in full force within the first year of rostering Ibrahim.
Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to check out all the other 2023 Rookie Profiles from the talented team of Nerds writers.