Eagles’ Pumphrey Shapes Up as Interesting Case Study in Production vs. Projection
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - In the wake of Joe Douglas' first draft with the Philadelphia Eagles, we can continue to debate the players taken but we can also comfortably make one assessment about the burly personnel chief ...he really likes players that have produced at the college level.
If there was one theme about the Eagles' draft, production was it, particularly with first-round draft choice Derek Barnett and fourth-round running back Donnel Pumphrey. Heck, it even carried over to the days after the proceedings when Philadelphia claimed former Boston College star Steven Daniels off waivers from Washington.
Pumphrey's resume at San Diego State is beyond reproach as he finished his career with the Aztecs with 6,405 rushing yards, the NCAA record.
That production, though, clashes with the projection to the professional level when you consider that Pumphrey stands just 5-foot-8 and weighs 175 pounds on a good day. And those who've called the Las Vegas native Darren Sproles 2.0 are making a non-nuanced comparison because, despite his diminutive size, Sproles is incredibly thick and powerful in his lower body while Pumphrey is slight and thin-framed from top to bottom.
Of the 28 running backs who lifted at the NFL Scouting Combine back in February Pumphrey was dead last, getting up 225 pounds just five times. As a comparison, the strongest back, Oklahoma's Samaje Perine did it 30 times while the early-round back the Eagles wanted, Dalvin Cook, recorded 22 reps and the team's undrafted free agent signing, Glassboro's Corey Clement, was able to lift 225 19 times.
Despite the lack of size and power, however, Douglas fell in love with what Pumphrey was able to accomplish on the field with SDSU and there is something to that.
"I love how productive he is.,” Douglas said at the team's post-draft press conference. “With Pumphrey, the thing that stands out the most is prolific production. He’s set every record. You’re talking about a guy that broke Marshall Faulk’s record.”
Most of us have known smart people in our lives who tense up when it's time to take a test. Pumphrey not only excelled when the exam hit his desk, he thrived better than any other player to ever play college football at his position.
“I just try to make guys miss and when it’s time to get down, I get down," Pumphrey said when asked how he managed to be so productive at his size. "I really don’t think about injuries or anything like that. I just play football to play. I know injuries come with the game and I just give my all every chance I get, every time I step on the field. I just thank God for it all. I haven’t gotten hurt and it’s been a blessing.”
Faulk, of course, is in Canton as one of the most well-rounded backs to ever play in the NFL but the former Colts and Rams star was also physically equipped to take the beating an NFL running back inevitably goes through.
If Pumphrey is able to grow into his body a little bit without losing some of the shiftiness he possesses right now the Eagles might really have something.
“I’m ready to do whatever it takes to show that I can earn a role on this team,” Pumphrey said.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen