2014 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Tre Mason
To prepare for the 2014 NFL Draft InsidetheFilmRoom is breaking down the best 5 prospects from every position. This week we are examining the top running back prospects and we are focusing our attention on Auburn’s Tre Mason today.
Tre Mason is an undersized power back that blossomed last season in Guz Malzahn’s double wing offense. During his breakout season last year Mason rushed for over 1,800 yards and 23 touchdowns including a ridiculous 304 yard 4 touchdown explosion against Missouri in the SEC Championship game.
As his numbers show Mason is a smaller back with great leg strength– his vertical jump and broad jump were in the top 5 for running backs at the combine– and decent speed.
One Cut Runner: Unlike most smaller backs Tre Mason doesn’t dance behind the line of scrimmage. Instead he attacks the defenses, often making a single cut before hitting the hole with power. This downhill running style is impressive for a smaller back and is one of the reasons Mason was so effective running between the tackles at Auburn.
Excellent Acceleration: The first thing that pops of Tre Mason’s tape is his ability to hit top speed within his first few steps. With his impressive acceleration and his no nonsense running style Mason thrived on inside runs despite weighting only 200 pounds.
Power: For smaller back Mason sure packs a punch. His powerful legs and ability to get under defenders allows him to maintain leg drive and pick up valuable extra yardage. His power is particularly evident when he was able to get into the secondary and is able to attack defenders in his same weight class.
Speed: The biggest knock on Tre Mason’s game is his lack of true breakaway speed. While he is lightening quick out of the gate, Mason lacks a second gear, his 4.5 40 time illustrates this. This becomes evident when Mason breaks into open field and is unable to separate from defenders. Another area where Mason’s lack of top end speed hurts him is on outside runs as he is able get to the edge but not turn the corner.
Up Right Running Style: A worrying trait for Mason is his tendency to run upright. Instead of dropping his pad level he tends to run very upright and loses valuable leverage as well as opening himself up for big hits. He was able to get away with this at Auburn but he will need to change if he wants to have a long career in the NFL.
Pass Blocking: Due to his size Mason will be seen by many NFL coaches as a 3rd down back. But in Auburn’s run heavy offense he wasn’t asked to pass protect often. This lack of practice showed as he displayed no technique– set a base, drop your butt and engage the free rusher– in his limited opportunities. Even more worrying was his lack of effort in protection.
Overall: Mason is a bit of a anomaly because his is a smaller back who’s game is built upon power. Yes, he was extremely effective running the ball in between the tackles at Auburn but there are questions over whether he can replicate that in NFL where the front sevens are much larger and holes smaller. Additionally, Mason’s break out year came in a unorthodox offense that seemingly caught college football off guard– there are many Mason runs where the defense is all over the place– so some of his production might be a product of the system.
Mason will be an effective but not special running back. He has the power and North-South running style to be a key part of a running back rotation but he lacks the explosiveness in the open field to be a game changing back that garners a high draft pick.
Prediction: Mid 2nd Round
Other 2014 Running Backs: