Chris Warren is bringing old school bruisers back to Oakland

Film Room, Game Film, Gif Breakdowns, NFL, NFL Preseason

Mansur Shaheen

We have reached the halfway point of NFL preseason and while some of the most exciting names to watch have sputtered, some unusual suspects have stepped up to capture the headlines. One of them being Raiders running back Chris Warren. As an undrafted free agent out of the University of Texas, Warren was a long shot to make the roster entering training camp. He was listed fourth on the depth chart behind longtime veteran Marshawn Lynch, newly signed yet oft-injured Doug Martin and 3rd-year player Jalen Richard.

The trio ahead of Warren most likely have their roster spots locked up, but Warren has managed to step up to compete for the fourth running back role. Through two games he has carried the ball 31 times for 196 yards and a touchdown. At 6.3 yards per carry, he has emerged as one of the most efficient running backs in NFL preseason so far.

Warren has the skill set of an old school bruising running back. He barrels through people and he is incredibly hard to bring down. The tailback gains momentum as he runs and gets even harder to bring down as he picks up speed. Warren does not need much space to be an effective runner and is not of afraid of taking hits running between the tackles.

The running back also has great vision when taking hand off’s out of the backfield. He can spot gaps even when they are not in his assigned running lane. The running back does a great job bouncing runs outside or switching fields if he needs to and rarely misses open holes.

Warren takes the handoff, spots a hole and chooses his path. He is a decisive runner that does not spend too much time dancing around in the backfield and he doesn’t try to do too much with the ball in his hands. The running back is a quick-thinking bruiser.

While he is big and strong, Warren lacks the quickness and athleticism a top tier running back needs. He is great at finding holes to run through, but he does not have the burst necessary to gash defenses once he gets to the hole. When he breaks into open space he doesn’t have the long speed necessary to take long runs the distance and usually gets chased down by defenders. The running back is great at making the first cut to get through the hole, but his cuts are fairly stiff and not quick enough to truly throw off defenders. It also means that after he makes the first cut he is usually stuck running one direction as he isn’t agile enough to make a second cut without losing all momentum.

As big and strong as he is durability could also be a concern for him long term. He is very upright runner and while he can barrel through people his running style leaves him incredibly vulnerable to taking hard, violent hits to the upper body.

These hits will wear down his body over time and make him more susceptible to injury. His upright running style also leads to him getting stonewalled at the line of scrimmage at times and makes him rely on his brute force to push the pile, instead of the natural leverage his body can create by getting low.

Warren is a running back that would have been an elite talent in the late 80’s. If he was a few decades older he would probably be a player stuffing the record books. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the quickness and agility necessary to really stick out in the modern NFL. There is still a place for him in the league today, but most likely as a change of pace back rather than a player who will be a main feature in the NFL offense. The Raiders grabbing him as an undrafted rookie may still prove to be one of the steals of this offseason, though.

 

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Lamar Jackson was not at his best in preseason debut but it’s to early to start worrying

Game Film, Gif Breakdowns, NFL, NFL Preseason

Mansur Shaheen

The NFL’s annual Hall of Fame game is a glitzy, glamorous, event where many of the leagues’ past stars congregate to celebrate the game we all love. For many fans, though, the main attraction this year was someone stepping on to an NFL field for the first time.

When the Baltimore Ravens selected Lamar Jackson with the final pick in the first round of last Springs draft speculation around whether or not he would start this season started immediately. The 2016 Heisman winner was the most exciting player in college football the past two seasons and with Joe Flacco coming off of yet another below average season the table was set for a changing of the guard in the Charm City.

Jackson played the entire second half for the Ravens and left a bit to be desired. He completed 4 of 10 passes for 33 yards and linked up with fellow first round pick Hayden Hurst for a touchdown. Jackson also threw an interception in the third quarter. The quarterback ran the ball 8 times for 25 yards.

The rookie never seemed to settle into the game and had many jitters in his first NFL contest. On his first dropback of the game, he panicked and took off to run before ever really scanning the field to find an open man.

The play was a designed roll out to Jackson’s left. He never really set his feet to pass and looked as if he had decided to run from the start. Chicago did a great job stretching the defense in order to contain Jackson, but he tried his luck to run through them anyways and barely picked up anything on the play.

When Jackson was throwing his accuracy wasn’t quite there yet. He let passes float on him and his ball placement was not the best. His passes also did not seem to have the zip on them needed to beat NFL defenders.

Even the touchdown pass Jackson threw could have been placed better.

This pass should have been placed in front of Hurst instead of behind him. Had he thrown it in front of his tight end Hurst would have had a simple walk into the end zone after making the catch. By throwing it behind him, Jackson forced Hurst to expose his body to contact and make an unneeded adjustment to catch the ball.

His footwork needs a little work as well. Jackson spent a lot of time on his toes dancing around the pocket when he dropped back. The Ravens third string offensive line was awful and the consistent pressure the quarterback was under forced him to be on his heels all night. Even when he did have space and time to set his feet and step into his throws he didn’t, though, and it led to a few awkward releases and wobbly passes.

These are kinks that you’d expect for a first time quarterback, and ones that will probably be worked out of his game over the next month as he practices more and gets more live game action in preseason. He should get a better feel for the offense and playing football at NFL speed. He will also develop better timing with his receivers and they will eventually be on the same page.


Lamar Jackson NFL Draft scouting report


While he had a rough game, the rookie did show flashes of the player he was back in Louisville.

On this play, Jackson went into his drop back and scanned the field. When nothing opened up downfield and the pass rush began to breathe down his neck he took off to run. He deke’d by the first rusher, slipped by another and then got to work in open space. His mix of speed, agility and open field vision is rare for a quarterback at this level and should create many highlight plays for the Ravens this season.

Jackson did struggle to get his feet sorted out when he was on the move Thursday night, but when he managed to properly balance himself he showed the types of great throws he can make on the run as well.

It’s impossible to make any judgments after half of a preseason game played alongside the third team offense against a third team defense. Jackson still has to grow a lot as a player before he will reach the level the Ravens expect to reach as a first round pick. It is clear that Flacco is still the teams best quarterback and will probably be listed as the teams’ starter when they take the field against the Rams next week.

Jackson’s NFL debut may not have been the exciting affair we expected, but it’s way too early to begin worrying about his NFL future.

 

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