There are 46 active players on game day for each NFL team. There are 53 total players that are on the roster at any given time during the regular season, and there are 10 additional practice squad players, too. If you take that 63 number and multiple it by 32, that tells us there are 2,016 NFL players that are associated with franchises at any given moment during the season. With that many players, you’re sure to get many that you could identify as “just a guy” — or a JAG, as they are called.
What is a JAG? A JAG could be described as a player who is decently talented, and could perhaps be a solid depth player deep down a roster, but when it comes meaningful snaps in important situations, there are likely better, more talented options out there you could find to upgrade. It sounds like a harsh title, but it’s a big league, and even guys who don’t have a high ceiling are needed to fill out rosters and provide good depth in case of injury.
Going into the 2018 college football season, I thought Ohio State Mike Weber was just a guy. I didn’t really see anything special from him beyond running through big holes thanks to Ohio State’s complex yet effective rushing attack, and I figured this guy would be a fringe player to even be drafted.
But every year you have to go into your evaluations of a draft prospect with an open mind for improvement. For Weber, I’m glad I did that, because as his final season went on, he showed me that, so what if he’s not going to be a Top 50 player, he’s still better than I once thought he was.
As a redshirt freshman in 2016, Weber rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first season of action. Unfortunately for him, however, the next year his carries were cut big time thanks to the freshman sensation running back J.K. Dobbins coming on board. In 2018, Weber once again split carries with Dobbins, but he handled his workload much better and got nearly 70 more carries in 2018 than he did in 2017.
So what specifically were some of the areas that I saw Weber improve on and other areas where I feel like I have a good sense of his limitations? I’ll let the 5-Play Prospect formula tell you.
Play No. 1: Veteran Vision
Ohio State has seen plenty of NFL offensive linemen come through their program over the last few years, and because of that running the ball has been relatively easy for guys Mike Weber and company. Many of Weber’s runs are just straight forward, and when holes weren’t there in 2016 and 2017, I didn’t see him do much with it.
In 2018, however, Weber became more patient and seemed to see the field with improved vision. This is not always a guaranteed area of improvement with backs at the college levele or even guys who make it to the NFL in their rookie season. Weber has acclimated to the speed of college football, and the speed at which he can execute his carries as a runner, and I felt like I saw a lot more runs like the one above where he could be patient and weave his way in and out of traffic to get good yards in 2018.
Play No. 2: The Study of Creativity
This is my favorite addition to Weber’s 2018 game. Weber could make people miss before, but not in the complete ways he was able to in 2018. Not only did Weber seem to have better ability for making plays in space and finding open space, he also had the vision for it. He had a better understanding of where defenders were and where they couldn’t get to. This led to more plays like the one above.
The second example is even more evidence towards Weber’s improved playmaking.
The stop-and-go, the spin move, the tackle breaking and the speed to stay ahead of the flow. This was such an impressive run by Weber, one that I have more confidence he can duplicate after watching what I saw from him in 2018.
Play No. 3: Hands Team
When Dobbins came into the picture in 2017, it may have forced Weber to have less carries, but his role was still important. As a sophomore in 2017, Ohio State made Weber more of their third down back, at least more than they had in his previous season. This allowed him to be more comfortable with pass protection and pass catching.
In 2018, Weber had the most receiving yards in his career and over the last two seasons had his best averages catching the football. Clips like the one above also demonstrate how he can be a natural out of the backfield.
Play No. 4: Balancing Act
At 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, Weber has a great center of gravity.
As shown in the clip above, Weber can take contact, stay up right and keep going for more yards on a regular basis. He doesn’t have insane balance when contorting his body like say Alvin Kamara did coming out of Tennessee, but he carries good weight in his lower half and this allows him to stay up and create yards after contact consistently.
Play No. 5: Missing Extra Gear
If you’ll recall I started this article saying that over the last few years I thought that Weber was just another running back. The reason for that is because I didn’t see a high-ceiling athlete in his tape. Even though he’s improved as a runner in many areas, that area is still a limitation of his — likely just because speed is often something that can’t be taught or improved upon very much once you get to his point of a career.
Even though Weber doesn’t have that next gear to kick it in and take runs to the house on a consistent basis, he is still a nice prospect. Though he’s not going to be a Day 1 or likely even a Day 2 pick, he possesses an all-around game that is worth having on a roster.
If you consider all Day 3 players JAGs, then Weber will just be a JAG to you. But I also recognize that these depth players can go a long way when it comes to building out a roster, and Weber has become one of my favorites to fill such a void for a team in the 2019 NFL Draft class.