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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Demetric Felton, RB/WR, UCLA

Could Felton fit in the Colts’ offense?

USC v UCLA Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

A fan-favorite series is coming back to the site as it is officially prospect interview season. For anybody new to the site or for people who need a reminder, every draft season I sit down with prospects that are going to be in the upcoming NFL Draft to talk with them about their off-field accomplishments and some film aspects on the field. While I don’t always talk to star players, I have been able to talk to a few players who eventually ended up with the Colts such as Khari Willis, Marvell Tell III, and Rock Ya-Sin.

Our next prospect interview is with UCLA wide receiver/running back Demetric Felton. We had a great conversation about his versatility on offense, comparisons between him and Nyheim Hines, and his growth as a runner in his career.


Background

Height: 5’8”

Weight: 190 pounds

Class: Senior

Felton is a former four star recruit out of Great Oak High School in Temecula, California. He had an immediate impact for the Bruins on special teams and as a reserve player during his first two seasons. In 2019, he was tasked with being the pass catching back in the offense, where he set the school record for most receptions in a season by a running back with 55. As a senior he stepped into a starter role, where he was a first team All-American with 165 yards per game.

After his senior season, he was invited to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

ZH: You were invited to the Senior Bowl this offseason. How was the whole experience for you and how did it feel to have such a great week?

DF: I was just very thankful to have the opportunity. I couldn’t thank Jim Nagy enough for giving me that opportunity to showcase my receiver skills. Having that in my background, I always wanted to be able to show that against the top defensive backs. Being able to do that, have a successful week, and showcase my versatility was huge for me.

ZH: With your size, you will get that stigma of being a change of pace back or a guy who can’t carry the load. This past year was huge for you as you had multiple games over 30 carries and were super effective as a rusher. What was the key to you having such a big year?

DF: I feel like the key was just having the opportunity. The year before, when I moved to running back, we had a great back in Joshua Kelley. It was his last year and he was getting most of the carries. I was getting some carries here and there, mostly getting used to getting carries inside the tackles and working out of the backfield. I think this past year just gave me the opportunity to showcase all that and I’m very thankful for that.


Athleticism

ZH: First thing that pops on film is your overall athleticism from speed and burst through the hole to elusiveness in the open field. Do you pride yourself on being that electric playmaker in an offense?

DF: I think first and foremost, I’m a play-maker with the ball in my hands. You give me open space on a play, I’m probably going to score or get a huge gain. I pride myself on trying to make the first defender miss every single time so that is something that I have definitely worked on.

ZH: As you are going through this process, have teams liked you more at receiver or running back?

DF: I’ve been getting a good mix. Some teams view me as a receiver, others view me as a running back. I really have no problem with either because I feel like I can be very productive at both positions. Whichever team drafts me, it is whatever position they chose me to be at.


Comps to Nyheim Hines

ZH: A common comparison I’ve seen for you is Nyheim Hines, which makes a lot of sense to me. You are both former receivers who are explosive with the ball. What do you think of that comparison?

DF: I think that’s a great comparison. I think we are very similar. He’s a great back too, so I’ve definitely been watching his film and tried to learn from what he does.


Underrated Aspect of RB Play

ZH: A lot of people think they know everything about playing running back, mostly due to fantasy football I’d assume. What is something about the running back position that you think the average fan doesn’t understand the importance of?

DF: I feel like something that is very vital is the ability to manipulate the defense. The ability to manipulate the linebackers and make it seem like you are going one way to open up a crease when, maybe there isn’t one. That is something that I worked on this year and my Running Backs Coach at UCLA, Tom Foster, helped me get better at.

ZH: I think that is a great answer. The biggest thing for me when watching running backs is not just making defenders miss but blocking unblocked defenders with their eyes. When you were first transitioning to running back, was that a difficult thing to adjust to?

DF: I would say that is something that, in 2020, I was really able to showcase because I learned a lot of that in 2019. That was my first year in the backfield as often as I was, and in the offseason was something I was consistently trying to improve at. Whether it was watching film, or at practice. I was constantly working on that.

ZH: That film aspect is huge for this, right? Are you studying those linebackers and how they attack on film so you know better how to set them up?

DF: Oh yeah, definitely. Just being able to read their demeanor, see what makes them tick, and try to use that against them. I feel like that is HUGE.


Special Teams/Potential Depth Role

ZH: Players who don’t go in the first round have to be big on special teams to make it. How comfortable would you be as a special teamer early on in the NFL?

DF: That’s how I was able to show the coaches that I wanted to play at UCLA. My willingness to be on special teams, because not a lot of people like doing it, I just wanted to be on the field whatever way I could. I did kick-off, I was on the front line blocking, I did gunner— I’m able and willing to do anything.

ZH: There’s also a real scenario where maybe early on you aren’t getting playing time or are a depth player. Would you be ready for that adjustment to not be “the guy” anymore?

DF: I’ve been in that position before. I’ve been in that position at UCLA and it is all about trying to prepare for that opportunity. Until I get the opportunity to be the guy, I’m always going to be ready for it. I’ll be learning and gathering all that I can so that when the time does come, I can be the best that I can be.


NFL Outlook

ZH: What is my team getting if they draft Demetric Felton?

DF: First and foremost, you are getting a hard worker. You are going to get somebody who is always looking to better himself. I’m my own hardest critic, and I’m always looking for ways to do more for the team. Second of all, you are going to get a play-maker. Someone who, whenever the ball is in their hands, is going to make something happen. At the end of the day though, you are getting a football player. Somebody who is tough, physical, fast, and you are going to want on your team.


Final Thoughts

While the Colts may not have a direct need at receiving running back, I would be tempted by a player with Felton’s ability. He is absolutely electric with the ball in his hands and having a trio of him, Jonathan Taylor, and Hines would be absolutely insane.

Unfortunately, he’s likely going to go a bit too high for the Colts. If the Colts spent another day two pick on a running back with the needs they currently have, it would be borderline malpractice. I could see the fit if they switched him back to receiver, but I think his best fit is at running back in the league. Let’s just hope this electric play-maker doesn’t find his way to the AFC South come draft time.