With their second pick of the fifth-round, the Detroit Lions selected Furman fullback Jerome Felton. This pick was another head-scratcher at first glance, but after learning more about Felton, I am warming up to this selection. Felton brings intelligence, a good work ethic, and a hard-nosed attitude to the table, making him a great addition to any team.
For the Lions, Felton was picked as Detroit needs to stock up on blockers with the new philosophy focused on running the ball. Felton isn't a run-blocker by trade as he was more of a runner in college, but it seems like he wouldn't have a hard time blocking at all. Just looking at some of his videos (see below), it is obvious that he runs like a freight train, which is something you want all fullbacks to do.
Here are some opinions on Felton:
Strengths: Locates seams quickly, runs low to the ground and is an effective between-the-tackles runner. Doesn't dance in the backfield, rarely gets brought down behind the line of scrimmage and has a nose for the end zone when gets close to the goal line. Shows excellent leg drive and can push the pile in short-yardage situations. Stays balanced, bounces off arm tackles and rarely goes down with the first hit. Shows good vision, has adequate lateral mobility and can cutback when sees the defense over pursue. Plays with a mean streak and flashes a powerful initial punch as a lead blocker. Plays under control in space and can adjust to the moving target at the second level. Keeps head up, shows good awareness and can pick up the blitz when asked to help out in pass protection. Snatches the ball out of the air and rarely drops passes that should catch.
Weaknesses: Lacks ideal explosiveness and is going to have a difficult time turning the corner at the NFL level. Doesn't have breakaway speed and isn't much of a threat to go the distance when gets a seam. Though has improved in this area, doesn't always protect the football and can put it on the ground. Lacks ideal body control, has some problem adjusting to passes thrown outside of frame and doesn't do a great job of tracking the ball downfield. Lacks ideal size, hasn't shown elite lower body strength and is going to have some problems rooting defenders out of the hole. Has improved in this area as well but doesn't always get good hand placement and plays with a narrow base so has some problems sustaining blocks. Played at a small school and there are concerns about ability to make jump to the NFL level. Tough and appears to quickly bounce back from injuries but missed the 2006 Appalachian State game with a high-ankle sprain, had arthroscopic surgery on left knee in February of 2007 and durability is a concern.
POSITIVES: Athletic fullback who does the little things well. Quick out of his stance, displays good blocking vision, and attacks assignments. Squares into defenders and knocks them off the ball. Always looking for someone to hit, occasionally lined up in a one-back set, and displays a variety of skills carrying the ball. Runs with an aggressive style, lowering his shoulders into opponents and delivering a blow. Picks up yardage off initial contact, yet at the same time shows the speed and agility to cut back. Effective receiver out of the backfield.
NEGATIVES: Marginally effective blocking on the second level. Has not faced top competition.
Good size and bulk...Very strong...Physical and aggressive...Runs hard and breaks a lot of tackles...Terrific balance...Decent hands...Does a nice job in short-yardage and goalline situations...Extremely smart with top-notch intangibles...Has a ton of experience...He can adjust in space as a blocker...Great vision....Pretty productive.
Did not play against elite competition...Does not have great timed speed...Is not explosive and lacks a burst...Not a big play threat...A bit of a FB / RB 'tweener...Is not a dominating lead blocker..Is strictly an inside runner..Has durability concerns.
Draftguys TV profile:
Felton certainly has a good shot at making the Lions since they are focusing so much on the run, but I'm not sure if he'll beat out some of the better blockers already on the team. If he does get cut, he's another candidate for the practice squad as injuries are inevitable at running back or fullback.