Joe McKnight – RB – USC
Scout: David Syvertsen
Pro Potential: Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs
Acceleration/Burst/Quickness: Has elite explosion off his cuts. Can explode through a hole with the best of them.
Ball Protection: Holds the ball too far from his body, leaving him prone to the fumble from a defender coming from behind. Does not keep two hands on the ball when running through traffic. Struggled with bal security early in his collegiate career.
Elusiveness/Feet – Agility: Loose hips allow him to evade tackles in the open field. Almost impossible to tackle one on one with space around him. Very light on his feet.
Pass Catching: Caught over 20 passes each of his three seasons at USC. Fluid catcher that could even play the wide receiver position at the next level.
Pass Blocking: Has surprising power when coming up to pick up a blitzing linebacker. Delivers a blow with aggression as he gets his hat on the numbers.
Power: Does not have a power game with the ball in his hands. Does not lower his shoulder with aggression, instead looks to accept the hit rather than deliver it.
Size/Length/Hand Size: Has a nice frame for the running back position, but needs to add a considerable amount of bulk to handle the rigors of the position.
Speed: Has top tier speed when healthy. Has been clocked at 4.34 in the forty. The speed shows up on gameday when he is in the open field. Very tough to catch from behind.
Vision/Balance/Running Instincts: Is at his best when in a single cut and go scheme. Does not do well when the intended lane is clogged. Dances too much in the backfield and will try to bounce it outside too often. Does not see the field well in traffic but when put in space, he can anticipate angles and lanes to go along with his speed consistently.
Final Word: McKnight came to USC with the expectations that Reggie Bush entered with in to the NFL. Like Bush, those expectations were not fulfilled the way many thought they would be, but he was still a dynamic playmaker throughout his career. He is not ready to be an every down back but because of his elite speed and explosion, he will find his way in to the field early and often right away. He has been under investigation for a few different off the field situations and many believe it was one of the reasons he came out early. A lot of questions will need to be answered in the coming months but he will still likely be a top 100 selection that could break in to the first round based on workouts. He is the kind of athlete that a lot of coaches will think they can make something out of and that he is worth the early gamble.