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Who the hell will they draft 2008: Toledo RB Jalen Parmele

Toledo RB Jalen Parmele could offer something as a late draft pick-up.
We wrap up the running back portion of Who the hell will they draft 2008 with a look at Toledo's Jalen Parmele. A few weeks ago, we did a profile on Toledo OT John Greco, a guy who has a very strong chance of getting drafted by the Colts in either the second or third round. Greco is known as a road grader offensive lineman, and the guy he paved that road for was his Toledo RB: Jalen Parmele. Parmele is not a big name you are going to hear ESPN or Dr. Z talk about. If Parmele is lucky, he'll get drafted in the 6th or 7th round. But that doesn't mean Parmele can't contribute immediately to an NFL team, or even start for some NFL teams.

With RBs, most scouts look for one thing: Breakaway speed. Can the guy outrun an entire defense in the open field? Excelling in this can get you very rich, very quick. Just ask Reggie Bush, a crappy RB who made his reputation outrunning college-level talent only to find that, in the pros, you actually have to work for a living. IMHO, breakaway speed is over-rated. Yes, a player has to have quickness and speed, but blazing speed is not the #1 thing a running back needs. In reality, a back must possess the ability to break tackles and run decisively. Unless your name is Barry Sanders, "dancing" running backs are dead ducks in the modern NFL. LBers, DBs, and even some d-linemen are too fast these days. Joseph Addai and Edgerrin James are examples of great backs who lack breakaway speed. Oh sure, Addai can run with the best of them (4.42 40 time), but we have yet to see him break a 50 or 60 yards TD run ala LT or Larry Johnson. But what Addai does have is an insanely accurate ability to always gain yards. Even when the line is blocking like crap, he can still gain yards. Like Addai, Parmele has this ability as well:

Positives: Good upper-body and leg strength. ... A good burst past the line of scrimmage. ... Quick enough feet to slide in the hole to find space. ... Keeps legs moving inside, and will spin and lunge to get extra yards after contact. ... Usually falls forward. ... Potential kick return option because he picks a lane and runs strong through arm tackles.
In both his junior and senior seasons at Toledo, Parmele averaged 5.5 yards a rush. Even in college football, that's damn impressive. In 2007, he also scored 14 TDs. The "grain of salt" in Parmele's college career is he did not play top notch competition, but I don't put much stock in "big time competition." Lawrence Phillips played big time competition, and he is the poster boy for NFL bust RBs. What has helped Parmele recently is his impressive Combine performance, catching the attention of both the Colts and several other scouts. His 40 yard dash ranked 8th out of all the RBs at the Combine, notching a 4.47 40 time (Matt Forte's was 4.46). He was also impressive in the vertical jump and cone drills. The Combine allowed Parmele to showcase his excellent inside running skills. Again, I use Reggie Bush as an example of someone who is dreadful running off tackle. Parmele is excellent running in an alley, breaking arm tackling, and fighting for extra yards.

NFL Draft Countdown thinks Parmele's strengths are more in short yardage. His 5'11, 225 pound frame is a load to bring down, especially his he is running downhill. Parmele is also a solid blocker. He engages well, but his weakness is sustaining the block. Parmele also has a bit of trouble catching the football:

Marginal receiver with limited experience in the passing game.
This could hurt him in the Colts offense, but seems to suggest the lack of experience will not prevent him from making key catches:
Is not a big threat in the receiving game, but can make the occasional catch as a safety valve...
As a rookie, he could get by with this, but to prevent himself from becoming K2 Jr., Parmele must learn to catch the friggin' football. It is not enough in the modern NFL for backs to simply run well.

There are definitely scenarios possible that could involve both Chris Johnson and Matt Forte getting drafted before Indy's second round pick. If that happens, and it might, Parmele offers a good option late in the draft, or possibly in rookie free agency. He would add depth to the RB spot as well as depth to special teams. Parmele offers skills as a kick returner, and could prove valuable as a gunner covering kicks and punts. Like Dom Rhodes, Parmele could be one of those diamonds GMs look for in later rounds. It's likely why named him to their All Sleeper Offensive Team:

Strengths: Parmele has great size and good quickness and is a player with a lot of upside. He's an explosive athlete with excellent measurables. He's deceptively fast and uses his strong running style to his advantage. He's physical between the tackles and has the ability to get around the end. He fights for extra yards and is tough to bring down once he gets started. He's a solid blocker on passing situations.

Weaknesses: He's not a game breaker and isn't an elusive runner in the open field. He's not a shifty runner and takes a lot of big hits. He has to work on his hands and become a consistent receiving threat out of the backfield.

Overview: Parmele has been a consistent performer over the last two seasons and has averaged 5.5 YPC over that span. He emerged on the scene as a junior in 2006, after two seasons of situational work, and had 207 carries for 1,131 yards and eight touchdowns. This past year, Parmele exploded for 1,511 yards on 276 carries and 14 touchdowns. Parmele, who measured in at 6-feet, 224 pounds at the Scouting Combine, performed well in front of scouts. He ran a better than anticipated 4.47 in the 40-yard dash and showed a solid burst during shuttle and 3-cone drills. He also demonstrated his athleticism with a 34-inch vertical and a 10'5" broad jump. He only managed to put up 225 pounds 19 times in Indianapolis, but that doesn't measure his powerful running style on the field. At his Pro Day, Parmele surpassed his vertical jump from the Combine with a 41.5-inch effort. Parmele is an excellent option for a team looking for a late-round sleeper with the potential to develop into a starting RB at the next level.

Draft Projection: Sixth - Seventh Round

If the Colts are unable to draft Forte or Johnson, I would not have a problem seeing them pick up a guy like Parmele. He is not the game-changer Forte and Johnson could be, but he is exactly what Indy looks for in RBs: Consistent, hardworking, and always gains yards no matter what.