Vision – True full-field vision in every sense of the phrase. Constantly reading through the first level and into the second level. Pulls linebackers and overhang defenders every which way he likes, like a marionettes with his puppets. Able to string together incredible third-level runs, not as a product of elite physical traits (like speed), but rather more so as the product of instincts tethered to body control and great vision.
Burst – More so sudden than he is springy, which leads to some disappointing runs in which pursuit gets to him. Can slice quickly into space on outside zone flow but lacks the ability to get vertical in a blink when running with power. Prefers to pick his way with patience through angles and work to the backside, rather than hit the designated hole and beat tacklers to the spot. Has a second-gear when he gets into space but again, not overly explosive for an undersized back.
Change of Direction – Wonderful footwork in the hole and in space to generate advantageous angles to make tacklers miss. Regularly dangles eye-candy in front of would-be tacklers, fooling them into believing he lacks the explosive cuts or sudden wiggle to make them miss. Can jump-cut multiple gaps at the first level and use jump cuts again at the second level to break pursuit angles and work to the backside. Has stop-start ability to die for when working in space. Short stride length a huge benefit here.
Power – Willing to put an exclamation point on the end of his efforts, which is great to see. Maximizes the decent measure of power in a compact frame with great angles and an understanding of space; forces larger defenders into awkward tackling positions, and he's able to lower his pads and run through arm tackles accordingly. Not a short-yardage back capable of moving a pile, but more than capable of finishing a run falling forward.
2nd Level Speed – Lacking, which puts a big dent in his eval. Struggles to hit the next gear when he breaks through the box and will fail to hit as many explosive, house-call runs at the NFL level given the improved pursuit speed of defensive backfields. Tough to piece together an ideal NFL role for him given lack of breakaway speed.
Contact Balance – Footwork, instincts, and great spatial awareness all marry into a wonderful profile for contact balance. Regularly anticipates contact and angles himself into hits to survive them. Small target area and constant state of motion make him as slippery as all nothing to bring down -- this is where I see the Shady McCoy comparisons. Can take a full, head-on blow and remain upright. Improved lower-half thickness would add only more to this aspect of his game.
Decision-making – Pleasantly surprising in his discernment. Always wants the home run but doesn't work himself into bad spots by attacking backside lanes/space too eagerly. Willing to take what's blocked for him, especially on zone flow, and live to see another down. Patient style gets him in trouble with backside pursuit at times; could be more decisive attacking space on power concepts instead of looking to create more by vanishing/reappearing behind offensive line.
Pass Catching – Tape is generally positive, but lack of usage is a bit noticeable. Hips are loose, feet are quick, and burst is enough that he should be able to develop into a strong underneath route runner, and would likely turn swing/screen touches into 10+ yard gains given elusive ability. However, lack of usage in this role in college does offer a question mark (only six receptions in 2018).
Pass Protection – Does not project to this role at the NFL level. Lacks ideal size, mass, and length in the arms all to exchange power with closing linebackers. ID problems also abound on film, which further adds to the idea that he should be used more so as a scat protection back than a true sixth body in the backfield.
BEST TRAIT – Vision
WORST TRAIT – 2nd Level Speed
RED FLAGS – Success v. Power 5 competition
PLAYER COMPARISON – Devonta Freeman
Devin Singletary is a mighty tricky eval -- one of the toughest I've hit this season. You'd like to project him to a zone style of play at the next level for his foot speed, change of direction, and vision -- but his lack of elite burst and NFL level long speed limit his role here. Again, he's strong on power concepts -- but his lack of elite burst and speed again give me a nagging doubt as to his NFL transition.
If Singletary had been more involved in the passing game for the Owls, then I'd feel better about him as a change-of-pace scatback in Year 1 -- and if you're comfortable projecting that role for him by working him out in the passing game, then go for it. But as it stands, Singletary just seems to be missing that ideal home run piece to his eval. His testing interests me tremendously.
ROUND GRADE - Round 4