the New York Giants Committed to adding talent to their roster. And while that means finding the highest beginners on the depth chart, it also means adding depth throughout the list.
Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez likely won’t be drafted early. However, he has a useful skill set that can make him a solid piece in a running back spin. With the depth of 2023 drafts in position, the NFL’s evolving attitude toward individual run value, and Rodriguez’s potential concerns off the field, he could prove to be a late value.
Could the Kentucky product be a low-cost improvement to the Giants’ depth back chart?
Prospect: Chris Rodriguez (24)
Matches watched: vs. Georgia (2021), vs. Ole Miss (2022), vs. South Carolina (2022), vs. Mississippi (2022)
Red flags: He is arrested for a DUI in the summer of 2022
Height: 5 feet – 11
Weight: 224 pounds
Matches played: 40
Yards (YPC): 3,643 (6.2 per pregnancy)
Yards (YPC): 116 (5.8 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 36 (33 rushing, 3 receiving)
Matches played: 8
Yards (YPC): 904 (5.2 per pregnancy)
Yards (YPC): 41 (8.2 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 6 (6 rushing, 0 receiving)
better: Size, strength, athleticism, vision and competitive toughness
worst: Long pace, game passer, off the field concerns
prediction: It plays an important role with its versatility and 3-down upside
(Rodriguez is the 24th Kentucky RB)
Kentucky redshirt Chris Rodriguez Jr. is a compact, tough and versatile running back.
Rodriguez has a good frame and size to place at the NFL level, measuring in at 5-foot-11 and 224 pounds. It is a versatile back and is capable of running out a variety of alignments and layouts. Rodriguez has experience lining up alongside the quarterback on the shotgun, or behind center in I, power-I, offset-I, or pistol formations. He was required to carry the ball into a man gap, into the area, and outside the area, and he was capable of execution in all cases.
Rodriguez runs at a really good pace behind the line of scrimmage. He’s a patient runner who does a good job of letting his men ground their blocks before pressing to the line of scrimmage. He also shows good vision behind the line of scrimmage, anticipating holes as well as defenders on the second level. Rodriguez combines sudden bursts of acceleration with the patience of a runner. He is capable of blasting through holes, changing angles on defenders quickly and forcing poor tackle attempts.
He is a powerful runner with a strong lower body and great contact balance. It is extremely difficult for defenders to bring down Rodriguez quickly, as the security and linebackers often need to tackle him or give up yards after contact. His playing strength, balance and low center of gravity allow him to get through accidental contact and ignore attempted arm tackles. He does a good job of securing the ball with his hands as he prepares for contact.
Rodriguez has amazing agility to go with his initial blast. He is able to vary the trajectory of his steps and has a fluid lower body, which allows him to drop his hips and cut suddenly. Good flexibility in the ankle allows him to carry speed through his runs.
While Rodriguez has impressive acceleration and stride, he doesn’t have a particularly high top speed. He lacks the long pace to be a real breakaway threat and can run from behind. Likewise, while Rodriguez shines with his potential as a passing pro, he is relatively inexperienced. He wasn’t a regular part of Kentucky’s passing offense, and seemed somewhat heavy and mechanical as a field receiver.
Rodriguez has incredible competitive strength and doesn’t hesitate to call on bigger defenders or put blocks in front of his teammates. However, it still needs to develop in this area. His blocking style is inconsistent at best at this point, and he can be slow to pick up the pressure or take the stand. He has the potential to be a good pass protector, but he isn’t yet.
Total marks: 7.0
Rodriguez plans as an important role player in a backfield rotation to start his career. He has the attributes that he can play through a variety of alignments and schemes, which should make him suitable for almost any offense. Likewise, it must be able to handle a high volume of pregnancy early on. His strength, leg strength, vision, speed and acceleration are likely to make him a shortstop or shortstop early in his career.
Teams must understand that while Rodriguez is a versatile runner who should be able to gain yardage consistently between the 20s, he probably isn’t much of a threat. His vision, balance, and acceleration make him difficult for defenses to stop quickly. However, he lacks the top speed to be a consistent breakaway threat with the ball in his hands.
Teams will likely want to avoid using Rodriguez in obvious passing situations early in his career.
He has the competitive toughness, playing power, and leverage to be a capable pass protector at the NFL level. But now he is very inconsistent in his style. There are occasions when he sets the pressure quickly and attacks the defender and buys the quarterback time in the pocket. But there are other instances when he can be late in identifying pressure, not attacking a defender, or confronting a defender with bad technique or leverage. Similarly, Rodriguez was not used very often as a receiver in the Kentucky offense, with only 20 receptions in his 5-year career. It does shine some upside in this area, but it will need development.
Teams will want to do due diligence and investigate his summer 2022 DUI arrest.
Assuming his character off the field, Rodriguez has the potential to be a real action, three-bottom NFL quarterback. However, he may need to develop and train for a season before he realizes his full potential.