Dynasty Prospect Profile: C.J. Prosise
C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame
(percentile rank among all WRs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.48 (78th)
Vertical: 35.5" (61st)
Broad: 10'1 (70th)
20-yard short shuttle: DNP
If those numbers look tiny, it's because Prosise didn't hit the offensive backfield until last spring. He arrived in South Bend as a safety before moving to wideout as a redshirt freshman in 2013.
Prosise started 3 games at receiver the next season and beat fellow draft prospect WR Will Fuller to lead the team in yards per catch. Prosise added a 50-yard TD run amid 3 carries for 75 yards in a Music City Bowl victory over LSU.
A depleted backfield -- and perhaps that bowl-game running -- motivated coaches to start handing Prosise the ball regularly in 2015. He took 20 handoffs (for 98 yards) in the opener and then averaged 9.0 yards per carry or better in 3 straight outings while racking up 502 yards and 6 scores on the ground over that stretch.
Prosise wound up garnering 14+ rushing attempts in 8 of his 10 games, losing time to a concussion and then a high left ankle sprain.
Courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com
Games watched: UMass, Georgia Tech, Clemson, USC, Temple
The biggest differentiator for Prosise over many other backs in this class -- and likely in his pro backfield -- is speed. So let's start this off with a bang.
According to Pro Football Focus, Prosise delivered 49.7% of his 2015 rushing yardage on plays of 15+ yards, which obviously points to the big-play ability evident in that clip. But if speed were all he brought to the table, then we'd be looking at a limited runner along the lines of Lache Seastrunk (in college) or Antone Smith (in Atlanta). We have much more here.
When you consider that Prosise didn't play RB until last spring, it wouldn't be surprising if he just looked like an athlete learning the position. But, although plenty of learning still lies ahead, Prosise looks a lot more like a RB who was miscast at other positions early in his career.
Here's another play from the USC game that shows off a spin move that Prosise breaks out fairly often, followed by some nice power to get into the end zone.
The Trojans had some tackling issues this year, but that's a running back run from a dude who spent more time in college as a wideout. And it's not the top example of Prosise's leg drive ...
You can also see the vision already developing to an impressive degree, like on this long TD run vs. UMass where Prosise cut to the hole before it had even opened and then turned on that play-finishing speed ...
I could easily throw in another gif here from the Georgia Tech game, where Prosise stutter-stepped to avoid traffic at the line of scrimmage before splitting the defense for a 91-yard score. And there's another at the start of the USC film where Prosise finds the middle clogged and jets out around the left edge to create another big play. But if I load every impressive play into this article, then you're computer's going to get mad at you for opening this page.
Besides, we need a little room for the receiving stuff. Here's the 1st of 2 strong examples from the Clemson game. Prosise doesn't make a clean catch on this sideline route, but he maintains the concentration to both corral the bobble and tightrope the sideline to stay in bounds and score.
Later in that game, he made a smoother grab on the opposite side of the field and then weaved his way well into the red zone to get his team into position late amid a 1-score deficit. (The Irish failed to finish the drive against the eventual national runner-up.)
Not surprisingly, the 1-year RB needs work on his pass protection. But he did at least gain experience in that area last year. Draftniks tend to point out that he sometimes hesitates too much in searching for a hole and leaves yards on the field by failing to recognize when to bounce a run outside. Prosise did also benefit from good blocking. According to ESPN, he racked up 4.4 yards before contact per carry, amid a class-leading 6.6 yards per rush. But that doesn't mean he can't create.
Pro Football Focus ranked Prosise a solid 29th last season among 68 draft-eligible RBs in yards after contact per carry. He finished an even better 12th in missed tackles forced as a runner. That's particularly impressive when you factor in how few times he ran it (99th most in the nation).
Multiple draft analysts say that Prosise looks lost in the backfield at times and left yardage on the field by failing to bounce outside often enough. I didn't see any glaring examples among the 5 games I watched, but Prosise obviously must continue to develop if he is to enjoy a good pro career. He'll also need to improve his ball security after fumbling 5 times among just 156 carries. The 8.5-inch hands that place him in the 4th percentile among Combine participants (since 1999) might hinder that.
It'd be nice if we could evaluate Prosise as a finished college product or at least look back on more touches at that level, but we can't. So there's even more speculation here than with many other prospects. It's not hard, however, to love what we see here.
When you combine the speed, size, vision, balance, moves, receiving ability and power, Prosise might sit 2nd only to Ezekiel Elliott in physical upside. PFF graded him as the #24 RB overall in FBS last season -- again, his 1st at the position.
Prosise has yet to show that he can serve as a workhorse, but his 220-pound frame and 3-down skill set suggest that he could turn into an every-down player. He has also said that he hopes to pattern his game after that of Matt Forte. The soon-to-be ex-Bear ran a 4.44 in the 40 at the 2008 Scouting Combine (slightly faster than Prosise), adding a 33" vertical and 9'10 broad jump. Prosise jumped higher (35.5") and farther (10'1) and looks more explosive on the field. Indeed, his 6.6 yards per carry last season beat Forte's best mark at Tulane by 0.7.
The opposing view on Prosise's scant college workload is that he might just enter the league fresher than many of his classmates, with more mileage remaining. His inexperience and fumbling might keep him off the field early in his career. But with proper coaching and determined work, Prosise looks like he has the potential to turn into a fantasy star.
Bottom line: No rookie enters the league as a sure thing -- even those considered "safe" picks. If I'm taking a RB early in my rookie draft, I'll take a shot on a big-time talent with some work to do over a polished back who looks just like 3 other guys drafted every year.