Jordan Howard was an unheralded recruit coming out of Gardendale, Alabama, where he was considered a two-star recruit. He stayed local, and took his best offer, which was from the University of Alabama-Birmingham. As a true freshman, he split time and played well, then took over the starting role and rushed for a UAB school record 1,587 yards in 2014. That record will stand indefinitely, as UAB decided to shut down its football program shortly after the 2014 season.
His school’s football program being terminated left Howard with a choice. He couldn’t enter the NFL Draft yet, so after being heavily recruited by top college programs, he chose to go to Indiana. While he struggled with injury in his junior season, he was a very productive runner, and was named First Team All-Big Ten along with Ezekiel Elliott. Howard chose to forgo his senior season to enter the 2016 NFL Draft.
|DOB||November 2, 1994||Bench (225 lbs.)||16|
|Height||6’0″||Vertical Jump||34 in.|
|Weight||230 lbs.||Broad Jump||122 in.|
|Arms||32 1/4″||20 Yard Shuttle||4.34s|
|Hands||9″||3 Cone Drill||7.14|
|40 Yard Dash (10 yd. split)||4.59s ()||60 Yard Shuttle|
|University of Alabama-Birmingham (2013-2014), Indiana University (2015)|
|2015||196 att, 1,213 yards, 6.2 ypc, 9 TDs||11 rec, 106 yards, 9.6 ypc, 1 TDs|
|2014||306 att, 1,587 yards, 5.2 ypc, 13 TDs||9 rec, 72 yards, 8.0 ypc, 1 TDs|
|2013||145 att, 881 yards, 6.1 ypc, 2 TDs||4 rec, 83 yards, 20.8 ypc, 1 TDs|
- Strong vision to find holes and cutback lanes
- Understands physical limitations and makes good decisions based on that
- Has enough burst to get through the line at the college level, but may not translate to the pros
- Will make defenders miss with short area quickness on very rare occasions
- Big, and consistently displays excellent pad level to drive defenders backwards
- Shows fantastic leg drive to keep moving forward after contact
- Lacks top level speed and will get caught from behind
- Strong as a stand-up pass blocker, locks defenders down
- Did not attempt a cut block on tape
- Limited athleticism limits his ability as a receiver
This article has multiple pages, examining different traits that Howard displays, and discussing whether or not those traits bode well for his transition to the NFL game. The first three pages deal with his running traits, while the fourth page covers his work in the passing game and the last includes projections for Howard in the NFL.
In order to watch Howard, I went to Draft Breakdown, which has five of his college games.
As a runner, Howard is a one dimensional player. Fortunately for him, the thing he does well, which is running between the tackles, is valued in the NFL. Howard consistently displays good vision and decision making throughout his running. He also shows great power. However, he lacks the elusiveness, burst and top end speed to really become
Howard often shows strong decision making skills. He can exploit small holes, cutback lanes, and set up defenders for failure. Players with good vision can consistently earn short gains in the NFL, and those gains are valuable because they keep offenses on schedule. Howard can deliver that.
The first play shows one questionable decision from Howard in terms of situational awareness. It’s a run to the edge and he ends up going out of bounds. The problem is that Indiana is presumably trying to run out the clock, so going out of bounds doesn’t make any sense. Lack of situational awareness can cost teams games. Howard will need to keep these things in mind at the next level.
The second play is a real positive for Howard, as he shows that he can fit through small holes despite being a bigger back. This is especially important for interior runners like Howard who teams are going to stack the box against. He finishes the run with great pad level, a hallmark of his game.
The third play shows Howard setting up defenders with head fakes to get outside of them. He doesn’t have great burst, so doing this will be necessary for Howard to gain positive yardage on runs to the edge at the next level.
The fourth play shows Howard recognizing and avoiding backfield penetration, and it also shows him using the blockers in front of him to press the hole and create yardage for himself. The final play shows Howard display the knowledge that he needs to cut runs inside because he doesn’t have the athletic ability to hit to the edge. Pressing outside still forces the defender to respect that threat and allows Howard to find space inside, which is a nice touch.
While Howard has moments of strong burst, it’s not a feature that permeates his game. There were certainly times where he got into open space because of his burst, but he faced a lot of lower level competition in the games watched, and even then he clearly didn’t always get great burst.
The first play is an example of where Howard fails to gain yardage that is available to him because of his issues with burst. The DE is able to shed his block and wrap Howard by his upper body. A player with better burst would have been wrapped by his lower half or been completely by the player, which would have made the tackle significantly more difficult.
The second play does show some very nice burst, where Howard gets through the line fast and is able to make a DB’s angle a poor one. However, this is also against lower level college competition in Florida International.
The third play once again highlight’s Howard’s burst issues. It’s a read option look and the defender takes the dive. However, there is a slight hesitation where the defender still has his shoulders turned toward the QB before finally committing to the inside run. This slight hesitation would have been enough to allow a player with better burst to completely blow him by, but Howard can’t do that.
The fourth play shows strong burst by Howard to get past a defender in the backfield and kill an LB’s angle. However, it’s also against Southern Illinois, a team that couldn’t hold a candle to a top college team, let alone an NFL team.
The final play shows him just barely getting the edge against Michigan State. With the slight help of a blocker, he was able to get there, but still had to ward off contact with a stiff arm. An NFL defender might be a step closer, which would significantly reduce the gain.