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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: RB CJ Marable

  • The Draft Network
  • January 29, 2021
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PROSPECT SUMMARY – CJ MARABLE

Coastal Carolina running back CJ Marable projects as a depth option at the NFL level. Marable has been a productive weapon for the Chanticleers but his projection is muddled by an option-based rushing attack and the lack of a high-end trait for him to hang his hat on as a prospect. Marable has adequate speed and modest size—and that paired with a rushing attack that makes creases easier to navigate and edges softer and easier to gain does help his cause. Marable is a helpful third-down receiving back who has shown good ball production over the course of his three years at Coastal Carolina after transferring in from Arkansas State. Marable’s ideal role is as a potential third-down receiving back with the opportunity to contribute on special teams. 

Ideal Role: Backup running back, potential receiving specialist.

Scheme Fit: Wide/outside zone rushing attack.

FILM EVALUATION

Written by: Kyle Crabbs

Games watched: BYU (2020), Kansas (2020), Appalachian State (2020), Troy (2020)

Best Game Studied: BYU (2020)

Worst Game Studied: Kansas (2019)

Vision: His best sustainable runs come from wide zone concepts that allow him to gauge the marks of his playside blockers and drive north as a lane develops. So much of his chunk yardage comes from wide-open edges courtesy of exotic options and serving as the primary pitch player—so his production is a little misleading. 

Footwork: He has smooth feet with plenty of activity to keep himself gaining ground as he presses out of the mesh point. He does well to not overrun his initial approach and gives himself a balanced press before making decisions. He doesn’t string together successive cuts but he shows confidence with a hard cut to trust his feet to drive against his momentum and then reset to transition back into a forward push. 

Contact Balance: He’s alright with added yardage and he definitely runs tough, but he’s not a big back in any sense and his frame isn’t going to challenge tacklers who aren’t able to fully frame a head-up challenge. His successes working off contact seem to stem more from spinning off and anticipating where he can transition mid-challenge than they do from actually winning point of contact. 

Durability: Logged consecutive 200-plus touch seasons for Coastal and he did well in the opportunities he had to “carry the load” and be a featured piece of the offense. But his athletic profile and physical stature isn’t a kind projection to an every-down role, and asking him for 16-20 touches per game would be doing him a disservice. 

Explosiveness: Marable is more smooth and fluid than he is necessarily explosive. He doesn’t spring and bound out of his cuts and he’s not going to shred pursuit angles along the sideline when he feels it is time to push on the gas. He’s effective with tempered speeds but his maximum acceleration isn’t a game-breaker. 

Versatility: Coastal Carolina saw him log 13 returns, 84 receptions, and 491 carries throughout his three seasons with the program—he did a little bit of everything even if it wasn’t in bunches. I don’t love his projection to a gap/power between the tackles heavy team and I don’t think he’ll be a great choice as a featured returner, but his candidacy to play special teams will help his resume to make an active roster. 

Elusiveness: Marable could definitely be described as slippery. He has that innate feel of surface reduction, especially on the B-level of the defense and on the edges. He runs under control and has shown a high frequency of spinning out of tackles or making shallow jukes to alter his surface area just enough to break away from contact. 

Ball Security: He had a few fumbles in 2020 (although one was a mishandled meshpoint). He’s not a big runner and his upper-body strength to continue to squeeze the football against contact is not something I’d bring unquestioned confidence to. 

Passing Down Skills: He has soft hands and plenty of experience out of the backfield. Coastal did a lot of routes breaking up the middle of the field and he shredded split safety or zero coverage on a number of QB power play-action concepts to slip him behind the linebackers. As a designated pass catcher, this feels like where Marable can carve out a niche for himself, but he’s not going to shine as a 190-pound pass protector to serve as a true third-down option. 

Discipline: He’s going to take his runs to the designated gap. From there, he shows the willingness to work off schedule—so he’s not a robot who will settle for loss runs if he doesn’t have to. But so much of what he was asked to do was predicated on being at the right place without the football. He showed trust in the angles of his blockers when he worked between the tackles.

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Kyle Crabbs: 69.5/100

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