This is my full scouting report on new Philadelphia Eagles RB Jordan Howard, who was acquired via trade from the Chicago Bears for a conditional 6th round pick.
Since last year I’ve tweaked the way I do my RB evaluations a bit and now base it on 12 different traits as opposed to 10. Each trait is weighted differently based on importance. They are listed as follows, but not in order of importance:
Mental Processing: Pre-snap recognition, decision making, football intelligence.
Vision: Post-snap path, set up blocks, find a lane, improvise and create when blocking breaks down.
Burst: Explosion through hole, accelerate top speed.
Agility: Footwork, change of direction, elusiveness, lateral explosion.
Power: Strength, break through tackles, fall forward for additional yards.
Contact Balance: Stay on feet, keep center of gravity.
Top-End Speed: Ability to run away from defenders at 2nd and 3rd levels.
Ball Security: Maintain ball possession.
Receiving: Route running to get separation, catch & gather.
Pass Blocking: Hold ground vs pass rusher, give QB time in pocket.
Physical Fitness: Endurance, durability.
Competitive Intangibles: Leadership, fortitude, consistency, toughness.
Grading scale terms (from best to worst):
Name: Jordan Howard
Team: Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles
Weight: 224 lbs
Great Mental Processing: Shows great knowledge of run blocking schemes and fits. Has extensive experience in zone schemes and shows a great feel for where his lineman will be when running inside or outside. Makes good decisions in terms of limiting negative plays and taking what’s there. Aware of down and distance as well as situation.
Good Vision: Usually very efficient in his pre-snap path, having the patience and spatial awareness to let blocks develop. Marries his knowledge of blocking schemes with anticipation and knowing which creases to attack when going downhill on inside runs. However, has shown on occasion to be late when hitting the running lane. Lateral vision to hit cut-back lanes is lacking, as he mostly goes for the north-south route instead of creating more yards for himself elsewhere.
Adequate Burst: Lacks notable explosion when getting upfield. Once past the line of scrimmage it looks as though he’s only going one speed.
Adequate Agility: Although his footwork is usually efficient and he can drop his hips and plant his feet on occasion, usually runs very upright and struggles with maintaining a lot of speed out of his cuts. When running with speed will either take a while to gather himself and stop to change direction or will round out his cut causing him to lose advantageous angles. Not very elusive in space and isn’t known for juking defenders to make them miss, but his anticipation of penetrating defenders does help him make the appropriate and timely cut upfield to avoid them.
Great Power: One of his most notable traits. Possesses a very physical and tough running style. Finishes his runs so well, lowering his shoulder into defenders and punishing them with impressive strength. Will break through tackle attempts to his upper body and will almost always fall forward for extra yards.
Solid Contact Balance: Upright running style hampers him from maintaining his balance once contacted. Will go down rather easily on tackle attempts to the lower body. When he does choose to lower his pads a bit he shows a better ability to absorb contact, but unfortunately not consistent enough with this to maximize this trait.
Adequate Top-End Speed: Won’t outrun anyone once he gets to the 2nd level. Long runs are attributed to his stellar mental processing, vision, and ability to power through tackles but are limited due to defenders being able to catch up to him from behind or win pursuit angles.
Elite Ball Security: Has rarely lost the football. Always secures the ball during contact and when fighting through tackle, rarely showing carelessness with it.
Solid Receiving: Admitted to struggling in this area his first two seasons but has worked to improve on it. Will catch the ball when running simple routes near the line of scrimmage (screens, swings, etc.), but does not show the ability to do anything beyond that. Doesn’t have the separation skills when it comes to route running and doesn’t have natural hands to comfortably catch away from his frame.
Elite Pass Blocking: One of the top pass blockers at his position in the entire league. Has the knowledge and awareness to know where blitzes are coming from. Physical nature and overall strength make it tough for defenders to get by him at the point of attack.
Jordan Howard Pass Pro 2018 (Per PFF):
83 pass block snaps, 2 pressures allowed, 0 sacks. The least pressures allowed for any back w/over 30 blocking snaps.
Reliable, smart player in pass pro – pic.twitter.com/ZFIgGhE8xk
— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) March 30, 2019
Great Physical Fitness: Has been the early down runner for the Bears for 3 straight seasons, averaging just over 16 carries a game. Effective late in games in close-out situations. Hasn’t missed any playing time due to significant injuries so far in his career.
Competitive Intangibles: Tough. Despite his struggles in 2018, has shown consistency in his power running style, even when blocking hasn’t held up. Stays physical and will keep on going to get the necessary yards.
I did Jordan Howard’s film review and man I don’t really know how much he has to offer. He’s good at what he’s good at and that’s fine, but the Eagles still need more.
Words and videos! https://t.co/hmmPZ8uPcK
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) March 30, 2019
Overall, Jordan Howard is a player you can win with, but not one you can win because of. His running style is best suited for north-south style running plays, whether they be in zone or gap schemes. Outside zone runs aren’t ideal for him because of his lack of agility and burst, but he’s shown to have some capability in running them when needed. Consistently gets what is blocked in front of him. When you combine that with his power and run finishing ability, Howard is an ideal runner to have on short yardage plays and in close-out situations. Play-action heavy teams will also find great use for him because of his pass blocking ability. However, his lack of athleticism and versatility limit his contributions as a starting RB. It would be ideal to pair him with a dynamic, pass-catching type of RB to help offset his deficiencies, much like how he was paired with Tarik Cohen in Chicago.