Ford has been without major injury during his college career and proved he can be a workhorse in 2021. His workload increased every year and so his collegiate career showcased that he can be a primary option but still has plenty of tread on his tires.
I love Ford’s discipline as a runner. He is a no-nonsense ball-carrier that makes great decisions and plays within himself. He does a fantastic job of blending patience with decisiveness and wisely picks his spots.
Ford is a sturdy runner that requires an honest effort to get him on the ground. Tacklers frequently slide off his frame and he is exceptional at keeping his feet moving through contact. He makes it difficult for defenders to square up on him, doing a great job of setting up tacklers to maximize his chances to gain additional yardage after contact.
A 4-star recruit out of Florida, Jerome Ford began his college career at Alabama where he spent two seasons before transferring to Cincinnati ahead of the 2020 season. After serving as a complementary back in his first season with the Bearcats, he became the featured back in 2021 and flourished. Ford is a no-nonsense runner that showcases good vision, power, and decision-making with the football. He has a nose for the end zone and excels in short-yardage but can be used as a traditional inside/outside runner as well.
While he is a bigger back, Ford has a second gear and he frequently breaks pursuit angles and runs away from defenders. He has outstanding acceleration once he finds daylight and commits. Ford is a disciplined runner that plays within himself while doing a terrific job of blending decisiveness with patience. Ford won’t be confused as an overly elusive or shifty back, but he has plenty of agility to complement his downhill style. When it comes to growth areas, the biggest thing for Ford is proving himself on passing downs.
While he’s hauled in almost every target sent his way in college, it was never a priority for him to be featured in the passing game and has run a basic route tree. While he has the makings of an outstanding back in pass protection, he needs to improve his ability to diagnose and respond. Ford has the makings of a top-two option in a running back stable and has starter traits should he prove himself more on passing downs.
Ideal Role: 1a/1b type back that is the primary short-yardage back
Scheme Fit: Any
Written by Joe Marino
Games watched: Indiana (2021), Notre Dame (2021), Tulane (2021), UCF (2021), Houston (2021)
Vision: Ford does well to find daylight and navigate tight spaces. He is a decisive runner that makes good decisions with the ball in his hands. While he isn’t the most creative runner, he wisely plays within himself and is consistent.
Footwork: Ford operates from a balanced base and with compact footwork. He easily jump-cuts and works to adjacent gaps with fluid movement. He does well to vary his pace and he knows how to cut off his blocks and spring to daylight.
Contact Balance: See Above.
Durability: See Above.
Explosiveness: Ford may not have elite breakaway speed but he absolutely has a second gear that he taps into when he sees daylight. There are plenty of instances where he breaks pursuit angles on tape and runs away from defensive backs. He had four runs of 75 yards in college despite a modest amount of carries.
Versatility: Ford has appeal as an inside/outside runner in zone or gap blocking schemes. He has a nose for the end zone and is an excellent short-yardage back. He is streaky in pass protection and had a modest amount of receiving production in college. He has no experience in the return game and menial special teams experience overall.
Elusiveness: Ford has enough agility and twitch to complement his physical and decisive rushing style. He is a compact runner with efficient footwork, which is ideal based on his skill set. He is shifty enough.
Ball Security: Ford has six career fumbles on just over 400 career touches. My exposures did not reveal instances of him being loose or careless with the football. I did not see any issues with exchanges at the mesh point on RPOs or zone/read plays.
Passing Down Skills: Ford is a capable and willing pass blocker but there have been some issues with diagnosing pressure packages and how he responds. While he’s hauled in nearly every career target sent his way, Cincinnati never prioritized getting him involved in the passing game. He has a lot to prove in terms of how he can help a team on passing downs, although he appears more than capable.
Discipline: See Above.
TDN Consensus: 74.42/100 (Fourth Round Value)
Crabbs Grade: 76.00/100
Marino Grade: 74.00/100
Harris Grade: 73.00/100
Sanchez Grade: 73.50/100
Weissman Grade: 75.00/100
Parson Grade: 75.00/100