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2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic University

2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic University
Davis Mattek February 27, 2019 11:38AM EDT

Devin Singletary NFL Draft Prospect Scouting Report Profile

If you haven’t picked up on this by now, small school players are both a personal favorite of mine and a small market inefficiency in the NFL draft. Devin Singletary fills that role perfectly as an insanely-productive, able-bodied runner from the Conference-USA school, Florida Atlantic University. Any time a shorter running back has a very productive college career, the sort of physical comps that they generate are all over the place from LeSean McCoy to Tiki Barber to Ray Rice.

Devin Singletary Football Career Thus Far

In high school, Singletary was the Fred Taylor Offensive Player Of The Year and received offers from most of the colleges in Florida including Miami University and Florida State but opted to attend Florida Atlanta University likely because he knew that he would be a full-time starting running back almost immediately. As a freshmen, he split carries with Greg Howell but out-rushed his teammate with 1,021 yards and 12 touchdowns while actually finishing second on the team in receptions as a running back and a true freshmen. He was named a Freshman All-American and showed no signs of slowing down his next two seasons.

The Florida Atlantic Owls hired new head coach Lane Kiffin for the 2017 season and were rewarded with an 11-3 record and were undefeated in conference play. Devin Singletary sent Greg Howell to the bench and ran for an FBS co-leading 301 attempts. In fact, he actually tied with current NFL runner Phillip Lindsay for the FBS lead in rushing attempts. His 33 touchdowns in 2017 were the most in all of NCAA Division 1 and was eight more than second-place runner up (and future first round NFL draft pick) Rashaad Penny. Singletary was only the fourth player since 2000 with at least 30 rushing touchdowns in one year and did so playing for a team that was not a traditional power.

His team was pretty significantly worse in 2018, winning only five games but it didn’t stop the production for Singletary. He ran the ball 261 times and scored 22 touchdowns while his reception total went way down to only six receptions in his junior season. In projecting Singletary to the next level, this is really the biggest red flag that I have and it is a real one. Drafting a “bruiser” back or a player who is only useful as a runner is just pointless. There are 30 running backs in this class who can gain 4.1 yards per carry on 2nd and 8, there is no use in spending draft capital on that guy. As The Draft Network notes he “has mostly been utilized as zone runner. Receiving skill set is somewhat incomplete and he doesn’t project well to pass pro. Has the traits to evolve but is unproven is some critical areas.”

I chose to include Devin Singletary’s game against Oklahoma University because it was the stiffest competition that he faced while at FAU. Instead of a highlight reel, you are able to see what Singletary did when coming up against real opposition. Even when the Sooners had eight men in the box, it is apparent that Singletary has well above-average vision. Pretty consistently on  his tape, you will see him create an extra yard or so just by taking the best possible angle. Pro Football Focus reported that Devin Singletary ran for 1,027 yards after contact in 2018 which can be evidenced by some of these runs against Oklahoma. The first linebacker has almost no chance to bring him down if it is an upper body hit. Overall, the traits that Singletary has that project to the NFL do show on film even if a good chunk of his production came against overmatched opponents.

Devin Singletary NFL Prognosis

There a few key factors that make Devin Singletary look like maybe even the best running back in this class. His raw stats are top-notch. 4,684 scrimmage yards in three seasons at small school, with 67 touchdowns (!!!!) and 51 receptions. He also accomplished these stats at extremely young ages which is a massive positive indicator for his NFL value. He had a legitimate breakout age of under 20 which produces stud NFL running backs at a great clip. If you are using a production-only lens to view NFL running back prospects, Singletary is as good as it gets. He dominated his competition, was by far the most productive player on his team and did all of this at the right ages.

However, there are athleticism concerns. Several reports indicate that he might not test great at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and if he doesn’t prove to meet the primary thresholds for running back athleticism, he is likely not going to be in my top tier of the 2019 RB draft class. With the information that we have available to us right now  however, I am comfortable saying that he is among the five best running back prospects in the class.

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