2014 NFL Draft: ASU's Marion Grice is nice, especially on third down
NFL scouts will appreciate that Arizona State's star (and the nation's leading scorer) is a good runner but an even better receiver.
Typically, running backs leading the country in scoring are no-nonsense bulldozing touchdown-scoring vultures.
Arizona State's Marion Grice, whose 13.5 points per game is nearly two full points more than his closest competitor is that and more, making the 6-0, 207-pound senior an intriguing prospect for NFL scouts.
With 18 touchdowns scored over the first eight games of the 2013 season, Grice has emerged as a legitimate star at the collegiate level and potentially one of the top senior running backs in the 2014 draft class.
Grice possesses a relatively long, lean frame for the running back position. His stature leads to a somewhat upright running style that, frankly, isn't conducive to what one might normally associate with a redzone scoring threat. While his natural leverage isn't ideal, Grice attacks holes when they are there, showing good downhill burst, the vision to set up blocks and the ability to spin off would-be tacklers to generate yardage (and scores) after contact.
What makes Grice special - and a potentially very intriguing prospect for the NFL - is his ability to catch the ball.
The Sun Devils use Grice in a variety of ways. Rather than just line him up in the traditional I-formation and pound way, Grice is often released on quick passes and even split out wide as a receiver. There, his soft hands and unique body control for the position is displayed.
Grice is a natural receiver, showing the ability to quickly pluck the ball outside of his frame, corral it and make the first defender miss in one, fluid motion.
Grice's ability on third down isn't limited to his ability to catch the football. Grice is an alert and active pass blocker, who locates would-be sack artists quickly and is willing to give himself up to help his quarterback, junior Taylor Kelly, find other options downfield.
Grice's lean build and lack of elite straight-line speed isn't what NFL scouts are looking for in a traditional bell-cow running back. However, his ability to help on all downs - especially on third down - could help him earn one of the top grades among seniors at the position and potentially emerge as a versatile and very valuable component to an NFL offense in the not-too-distant future.
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