The 2009 NFL Draft: FB Prospects

Next in the multi-part draft breakdown are the fullbacks. I watch a ton of college football, but I'm not Mel Kiper Jr., so all of these are up for discussion.

The one thing that frustrated the hell out of me throughout the season was Ron Turner continually calling the fullback dive in short-yardage situations and having Jason McKie as our fullback. I always felt dread in a 3rd-and-short situation. Always. And, I can't really differentiate between which I hate more: Ron Turner calling that play when Virginia McCaskey even knows it's coming or having McKie on our roster.

After wanting to bang my head against a wall more than Jerry Angelo watching his draft picks struggle, I came to a conclusion. It seems like Ron Turner will never scrap that play. And you know what? That's fine with me. The FB dive, in and of itself, is not a bad play: it is a bad play when you're running it with poor personnel.

One of my major hopes for this offseason is to draft a fullback. I just want someone who can block, run, and catch. Honestly, if we grabbed a RB that we can turn into a fullback or a fullback in the 4th or later in the draft, I'll be as happy as Nathan Vasher when he makes a tackle.

The true old-school version of the fullback is starting to die out in the NFL. I have no way of substantiating that, but I guarantee we're moving to a new prototype of fullback. Players like LeRon McClain, Mike Alstott, and Lorenzo Neal will be the norm. If we're going to be that "run-first team," let's at least get the right personnel in place.

But there are two problems (of course):

1) The numbers of good fullbacks out there this year are extremely low. I'll detail the ones that could actually help an NFL team.

2) More than any other position, one cannot rely on statistics when evaluating fullbacks. I'll explain more after the jump.

Tony Fiammetti, Senior, Syracuse

Height: 6'1"     Weight: 235 lbs

YEAR

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

2006

8

15

1.9

7

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

2007

3

8

2.7

4

0

12

75

6.3

15

0

0

0

2008

5

66

13.2

58

0

16

127

7.9

19

1

0

0

Hands down, Fiammetti is the best FB of the class. It's not close. I didn't get a chance to see Fiammetti in action this year due to Syracuse's stellar play, but I was able to get some clips of him and some analysis of his Senior Bowl performance by Todd McShay (who I trust more than Kiper).

From the clips I saw of Fiammetti, he is a great blocker; the best fundamentals of this class. He'd be a great addition to pick up backers and give Forte some room to run. He possessed good hands at the Senior Bowl.

His running skills are good; more of a short-yardage bowl-em-over type of FB. He looks to have more power can lay the wood on defenders more than McKie, which is always a plus.

Let's take a look at Fiammetti's BGA: 

DATE

OPP

RESULT  

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

9/13

Penn State

L 55-13

0

0

0.0

0

0

2

10

5.0

5

0

0

0

10/11

@West Virginia

L 17-6

0

0

0.0

0

0

4

18

4.5

9

0

0

0

11/29

@Cincinnati

L 30-10

1

58

58.0

58

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

Average: Funny. Really funny. 

Bottom line: Fiammetti's the best FB of this class and should be off the board in the 5th, 6th at the absolute latest.

Projected round: 5th-6th 

Eric Kettani, Senior, Navy

Height: 6'1"      Weight: 243 lbs

YEAR

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

2006

53

229

4.3

14

1

1

7

7.0

7

0

0

0

2007

152

880

5.8

71

10

7

36

5.1

18

0

0

0

2008

190

982

5.2

57

4

3

14

4.7

15

0

0

0

(Hat tip to sabbath999: Kettani will, barring a major reversal from the Pentagon, serve after graduation.

Eric Kettani has definitely had a productive career at Navy (being under Paul Johnson for three years helps). For a fullback, his numbers are extremely impressive. Some many point to Kettani being a system player, and they'd have a valid argument. He did play in the triple-option offense under Johnson; however, what isn't up for much debate is his skill set. Kettani hits the hole hard and has good vision. His hands, while thoroughly untested, are viewed as a plus.

However, Kettani's game does possess some negatives. His blocking was adequate in college, which means he'll need to hit the NFL weight room and get some good coaching to correct it. He's also more fast than quick, so he's not going to hit the home run with the FB dive.

Let's take a look at Kettani's BGA:

DATE

OPP

RESULT  

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

10/4

@Air Force

W 33-27

22

75

3.4

9

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

12/6

@Army

W 34-0

24

125

5.2

27

1

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

BOWL

Wake Forest

L 29-19

14

50

3.6

9

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

Average: 20 carries for 83.3 yards, 4.06 YPC, .33 TD's. Those are pretty decent numbers for a fullback, even if he benefitted from a particular offensive system.

Bottom line: Kettani (like most fullbacks on this list) has some gaps in his play. If he works hard, he would be a good NFL fullback.

Projected round: Somewhere in the Navy; I'll guess he'll make the rank of Captain.

Brannon Southerland, Senior, Georgia

Height: 6'0"     Weight: 240 lbs

YEAR

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

2005

18

25

1.4

5

3

8

57

7.1

14

2

0

0

2006

46

120

2.6

17

8

14

157

11.2

27

2

0

0

2007

17

24

1.4

3

5

11

59

5.4

11

1

0

0

2008

2

1

0.5

1

1

2

16

8.0

10

0

0

0

Analyzing statistics as a view of a fullback's performance is absolutely worthless. Take Southerland, for example. His career-high yard total was 120. If you're quantitatively-oriented, you're scared of him. But why?

Three issues really hurt Southerland, at least if you're just glancing at him:

1) Georgia runs the closest thing to a pro-style offense as you can get in the NCAA.

2) He had the possible #1 overall draft pick at QB (Matthew Stafford).

3) He had the possible first running back taken in the draft on his team (Knowshon Moreno).

I've seen Georgia play, so I have some familiarity with him. As a lead blocker, he's pretty solid. His hands are good. His big negative is that he's not fast; he won't ever hit the home run in the NFL.

Let's look at Southerland's BGA (you'll see that his BGA compared to Stafford's and Moreno's is much smaller. He didn't accrue any stats during the games not listed):

DATE

OPP

RESULT  

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FUM

LST

10/11

Tenn

W 26-14

1

1

1.0

1

1

1

10

10.0

10

0

0

0

10/18

Vandy

W 24-14

1

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

10/25

@LSU

W 52-38

0

0

0.0

0

0

1

6

6.0

6

0

0

0

11/1

Florida

L 49-10

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

Average: Again, real funny.

Bottom line: Southerland shouldn't be overlooked as a FB, but he probably will be. He'd be a great pickup in the 6th or 7th.

Projected round: 6th or 7th

My pick:

P.J. Hill, Senior, Wisconsin

Like I said in the RB post, Hill would be a great converted fullback. He's proven his worth as a runner. He can catch and we can (hopefully) teach him better blocking fundamentals.

Who didn't make the list:

Quinn Johnson, Senior, LSU

Johnson is another version of McKie: Good lead blocker (more so than McKie), good hands, not much in terms of running. Johnson isn't a bad runner per se, he's just not quick enough to separate from NFL LB's. He's not quick enough to separate and his lateral quickness is not even remotely close to NFL level.

Jovorskie Lane, Senior, Texas A&M

Lane is all of 5'11" and 295 lbs. He's powerful for being such a big boy, but his blocking and agility are next to nothing. He can run north and south, but he leaves himself exposed during his runs. Essentially, he's a worse version of McKie. I'll take a pass on him, and I hope Jerry does too.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Windy City Gridiron

You must be a member of Windy City Gridiron to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Windy City Gridiron. You should read them.

Join Windy City Gridiron

You must be a member of Windy City Gridiron to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Windy City Gridiron. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker