One of the most impressive physical specimens of this year's class in the NFL Draft, Utah State running back Robert Turbin turned some heads at the Combine last week by putting up some respectable numbers during the testing phase. He measured in at 5'10, 222, put up 28 reps on the bench (did 30 but was docked two for not 'locking out' his elbows), and ran 4.40 and 4.44 unofficial 40s (4.50 officially). I list the unofficial times because of the controversy around the 'official' times at the Combine - many feel that they weren't accurate - maybe a bit slow, but that's neither here nor there - he's obviously very fast either way.
His 4.31 short shuttle and 7.16 3-cone drill times were middle of the pack - still decent considering his size-, but his 36" vert and 10'2 broad jump were both very near the top of the group. This indicates that he does possess a good amount of lower body explosiveness, something that people questioned a bit as he does look a little top heavy. Mostly in his absurdly gigantic biceps. His 40-time is important because another one of his knocks was his breakaway speed. The 40 is actually one test that can gauge a player's likelihood of being caught from behind, and in the 4.4-4.5 range, once he sees the light of day, not many players are going to catch him from behind, most likely.
His strengths, according to NFLDraftScout.com, are as follows:
Possesses good burst to and through the hole. A patient runner with good vision and burst for the cutback. Squares his shoulders and can knock the defender back onto his heels. Good leg drive and forward lean to gain extra yardage after contact. Shows a surprising burst to beat linebackers to the edge.
Can plant his foot in the ground and explode, showing better straight-line speed than you'd expect for a back of his size. Shows good hands and concentration as a receiver. Looks natural catching the ball. Cognizant and physical pass blocker who will square up the hard-charging linebacker in the hole to buy his quarterback time. Possesses a short, squatty frame conducive to tough inside running. Dedication to the weight room is obvious based on an upper body build as impressive as any running back in the country.
The question remains as to what kind of 'third' running back the Seahawks are looking for behind the presumptive rotation of Marshawn Lynch and Leon Washington - whether it's an all-around player like a Doug Martin/Chris Polk, a big beast of a man like Terrance Ganaway, or a shifty scatback in the mold of LaMichael James, but Turbin's size/speed ratio, ability to run inside or on the corner, and an ability to pass block and catch out of the backfield makes him pretty versatile for a number of roles.
At the moment I'm writing this post, it's looking like the Hawks might franchise tag Marshawn Lynch, and if that's the case the likelihood he'll be signed to a long-term contract seems diminished. If there's any running back in this group that reminds me of Lynch though, Turbin would be high on the list, and not just because of physical appearance.
As you watch the tape below, you might notice his power through the middle, but he does look pretty fluid and natural catching the football and turning up field in a smooth motion as well. He can move the pile well and doesn't look to be a liability in pass protection in the backfield. The strengths listed by NFLDraftScout would seem to mesh well with the zone blocking scheme and he only put the ball on the ground four times in his college career, losing it once, in 545 carries and 66 receptions.
He's in or around the 3rd, 4th round range for this year's Draft currently, and if the chips fall like many of us believe they will, this may be the range the Seahawks are looking for another running back. I'm not sold on Turbin one way or another but his Combine workouts certainly put him on the map a little bit more. His weaknesses are of the injury prone type (sat out a season with an ACL injury), that he can be caught from behind, and that he's a bit top-heavy with a less-solid base. He maybe silenced those final two concerns with his physical testing - his speed and vertical jump/broad jump - but the injury risk remains. He's also 22 with a good amount of miles on him in college.