An absolute workhorse during his four seasons with the Oregon Ducks, Royce Freeman enters the NFL with 1026 touches to his name during his college career. The workload he had at Oregon alone will have pushed him down draft boards and not helping his cause, he finds himself in a deep class of running backs. Even still, Freeman’s time with the Ducks was impressive and he could be an every-down back for certain offenses in the NFL.
Playing in a dynamic Oregon offense, Freeman fit right in. He possesses terrific change of direction and is a fluid mover for his size. Additionally, Freeman has an electric ability to bounce runs to the outside and get into space.
trips up at the end but it's a good glimpse of how fluid a runner he is. that sort of subtle COD is what made me love Ameer Abdullah coming out of Nebraska. pic.twitter.com/SrTIm9A3Tg— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 8, 2018
In the backfield, Freeman is a patient runner who doesn’t press behind the line of scrimmage. His stop-start ability lends itself to hitting the hole on runs in a timely fashion. At the second level, Freeman makes great reads running off the hip of his blocker and will break off chunk runs consistently as a result.
More subtle movements around the LOS then shrugs off a tackler like nothing. not convinced Freeman is a Seahawk-y runner but he is so fun. pic.twitter.com/wh3KXSQGPs— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 8, 2018
Freeman has good burst at the line of scrimmage and if given a clean hole to run through, will consistently get to the second level. While he has a great ability to bounce runs into space on the outside, there are questions whether he lacks true breakaway speed. A 40-yard dash time of 4.54 seconds backs up the notion Freeman has perfectly fine functional speed, but he will continue to struggle to run away from defenders.
Finish/Yards After Contact
Around the line of scrimmage, Freeman plays below his size. Too often the 229-pound back is tripped up or tackled in an area you want to see him shake tacklers off. He doesn’t drive his legs on contact with any sort of consistency and resembles a smaller running back more often than not. The plays in which Freeman dolls out the contact are outweighed by plays where he seems too happy to wait for it to come to him.
This play exemplifies the Freeman conundrum. Up until the end he does everything right - and not to take away anything from the run, it’s a great run - there is no finish to it, instead he tries to cut back across the defender into space that isn’t there.
While he wasn’t a huge part of Oregon’s passing game during his four seasons there - just 79 catches total - Freeman did display a natural receiving ability. He was split out wide on occasion:
Not anything special but being split out wide is a good indicator of his receiving ability, mostly used on screens at Oregon. 79 catches in 4 seasons but I think he can be a 50-catch back in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/CnMzohJ3Mf— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 8, 2018
And displayed an impressive catch radius for a back used predominantly on screen passes:
Overall, Freeman is a running back with exceptional size and good athletic ability. He is a reliable runner who adapted over the course of his career at Oregon. Freeman is an intelligent runner and fumbled on average once every 114 carries in college.
At 5-11 and 229 pounds, he has the body type of a Seahawk running back, however I have doubts whether his running style resembles that of a Pete Carroll-type back.