Prospect: Joseph Randle
Weight: 200 pounds
Joseph Randle comes from an Oklahoma State team that couldn’t be further from NFL offenses. Every play is out of the shotgun, including their victory formation. Randle’s skillset reflects that philosophy in both of his strengths and weaknesses. As a pure runner he’s not worthy of a day 2 pick but he brings a lot to the table on passing downs.
He excels both as a blocker and as a pass catcher, maybe the best at both in this class. I’m concerned about his frame as he has a very small lower body for even a college running back and only weighs 200 pounds which seems tiny for a back of his height.
Randle’s a good enough athlete. He gets up to speed quickly and his top speed is definitely good enough even if it’s not game changing. I suspect near a 4.45 40-time and I think it’s an accurate reflection of his game speed. He’s quick to change direction but not elite by NFL standards. He’s got problems as a runner because he lacks functional strength and has pretty bad balance. He doesn’t get good leg drive to churn out yardage and he doesn’t consistently fall forward. More disturbing is his propensity to be taken down by arm tackles.
Randle seems like an extremely smart player and student. Oklahoma State runs a complex offense and asks Randle to make more reads than maybe any other running back in the nation. He’s picked it up extremely well this season and has done a good job deciding when to block and when to release. Both are extremely important jobs in the Cowboy offense. In the classroom he started as an Engineering Major and when it became apparent that he was NFL bound, switched over to Finance. That Engineering Major isn’t easy and if he can do that I doubt he has problems with the classroom work in the NFL.
Randle’s an excellent pass protector in college. He’s asked to do it a lot and is very dependable. He’s excellent as a cutblocker, consistently driving his shoulder pads into the thighs of blitzers with force, not just diving at their feet. He almost always gets guys on the ground when he goes low. Some coaches may want him to be more proactive and attack blitzers on his feet but there’s no questioning his results as a blocker as a Cowboy.
Randle’s real sharp as a route runner. He’s got speed to threaten the sideline on his flare outs and does a good job of looking for the ball when he’s the checkdown option. This year Randle’s roll has increased a bit as Oklahoma State has lined him up wide and had him run some crossing routes. The line at OK State isn’t great so anyway to get the ball in Randle’s hand was used. There were also several times where he ran skinny posts out of the backfield to great effect.
Hands and Carrying:
Randle has as soft of hands out of the backfield as can be expected. He snatches the ball out of the air and brings it into his body before turning upfield. Rarely did he drop a pass and acted as a very dependable check down option. He had some fumble issues develop they seemed there or not. He went his first two seasons almost without a fumble and then but a bunch on the ground in a row. He’s an upright runner and he doesn’t carry the ball high and tight when he runs which is something he’s going to have to work on in the pros to protect the ball and himself.
Randle gets most of his interior rushes out of shotgun draws and does a good job finding little cracks to get yards through. He’s not dangerous on these because he gets taken down by minimal contact. There’s no anger in his running and no desire to punish a defender. He’s fast enough to threaten the outside and when he gets to the corner of the defense he becomes dangerous because of his speed, but he gets taken down by DBs too much in the open field for my tastes, especially for a guy who doesn’t consistently get to the third level. He’s got some ability to make guys miss but he’s not going to get by a lot of pro defenders except by running around them completely. Doesn’t really use any moves other than a quick sidestep/juke move.
If any team is planning for Randle to carry the rushing load by himself, they’re going to have significant problems however with a workhorse back, Randle could play a very valuable role similar to what Darren Sproles has done in New Orleans in recent seasons minus some of the return responsibilities. He’s a player in the pros but he isn’t a star like Jamal Charles or CJ Spiller. He could go anywhere from the 2nd to the 6th round based on how teams evaluate his skills as a rusher. Personally I see good value in the 5th round but he’ll probably be gone by then.
OK State vs. Texas:
First play of the game Randle took an outside zone handoff out of the gun and took it to the house. Got to the third level completely unimpeded and then made Kenny Vaccaro whiff and ran through an arm tackle of the other safety. Displays great hands out of the backfield, snatching the ball out of the air. Going down by slight contact otherwise he’d have 200 yards in the first quarter. Good job getting a helmet on a blitzer to give his QB time. Running harder in this game than I’ve seen him, getting extra yardage against Texas’ DBs. Struggles to keep his feet underneath him causing him to trip. Destroyed Carrington Byndom on a blitz pickup, trainers had to come get the Longhorn CB. Seems to run better out of a pistol behind Kye Staley who has to have seven knockdown blocks in this game.
OK State vs. Iowa State
Randle is seeing a ton of snaps as a receiver in this game. He’s showing excellent routes for a RB and very solid hands. Would like to see more YAC because he continues to go down on first contact. As a runner he’s done well to find holes when they’re there but struggling to make anything happen without good blocking. He’s been good in blitz pickup allowing his QB time to survey the field and complete passes. Consistently threatening the edges but hasn’t got the downfield blocking he needs to break a big one.
OK State vs. Arizona
He’s seeing good blocking and hitting the hole hard getting good yardage. Got held up in the backfield and the ball got popped out because he didn’t cover it up. That CAN’T happen. Got taken down by an Arizona Dlineman just sticking his arm out while being blocked. Got taken down inches short of the first down marker and then driven backwards rather than falling forward for a new set of downs. Ran a nice looking skinny post out of the backfield and torched an Arizona safety for a big gain. Showing some excellent option routes out of the backfield against an overmatched Arizona safety in garbage time. Getting open and catching the ball well.
–Will Richards, DLD Cotributor