It’s not one thing about Ka’Deem Carey; it’s everything.
Power, speed, elusiveness, durability, pass blocking, pass catching … the entire package makes the Arizona Wildcats junior running back “a solid second-round prospect” and a potential late first-rounder, according to Rob Rang, senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com.
“What really impressed me in the past is the agility and ability to make people miss,” Rang told TucsonCitizen.com.
“Now, you can tell he’s bigger and stronger and really grinds his way through contact for extra yardage. He’s improved as a pass-blocker and receiver. The only back I have seen that is comparable in the all-around is Washington’s Bishop Sankey.”
Rang said he was watching with interest last week how Carey would react after losing a fumble at the goal line against UCLA. What he said he saw was a player who didn’t lose focus, even while pass blocking.
“In pass protection, he’ll hit a guy and that is impressive to see,” Rang said.
Carey, a junior, is one of several intriguing underclass running backs who could declare for the draft. Sankey is one of those. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk are two more.
Gordon is averaging 8.1 yards per carry behind the usual powerful Wisconsin offensive line. Seastrunk is averaging 8.7 yards per carry for a Bears’ offense on pace to shatter the FBS record for offense, averaging 686.0 yards per game.
Carey is averaging 5.7 yards per rush but hasn’t received as much complementary help as the other three backs mentioned. And everything has been more difficult than last season, when defenses had to worry about quarterback Matt Scott and receiver Austin Hill in coach Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense that is friendly to running backs.
Keeping up his production while being the almost-always target of opposing schemes has been a big plus for Carey, who is averaging 152.6 yards per game, second in the nation.
“It has helped silence some of his critics who would say Carey is just a product of the system,” Rang said.
“The strength and determination with which he is running is proving that he is an all-around pick. He’s doing it not just by making people miss, but barreling over them if the situation calls for it.
“I believe he can be a three-down back in the NFL. He has a more consistent grade, in my opinion, than some of the other flashier backs, like Seastrunk and Gordon.”
Running backs aren’t as valued in the NFL as they once were, and it’s not uncommon these days to see talented runners slide in the draft. In the past three drafts, only one running back — Trent Richardson (No. 3 overall in 2012) — has been picked higher than the 28th slot in the first round.
So, the first round, for Carey or any of draft-eligible 2014 backs, is a high bar. A fast 40-time in workouts would boost Carey and further open eyes, but a mid-range time won’t hurt, Rang said, because scouts already know what he can do.
Which is just about everything.
“To me, that’s where Carey and Sankey stand out as potential lead dogs, lead backs, in the NFL,” Rang said. “They can kind of do it all.”
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Here is an interview with Carey from a couple of weeks ago by CBS Sports: