Size: Franklin has very legitimate NFL running back size. I don’t think he is maxed out, but being 5’10”, 200+ is more than big enough to be an every down back in my opinion. He isn’t an ideal fit for a power scheme, but I have no doubt that if he lands in the right scheme he could be the feature back at this size.
Speed: Franklin may not have 4.4 flat speed but his speed is obvious when you watch him. He isn’t a world-class athlete but he has more than enough speed to rip off big chunks of yardage and to get the corner on outside runs. He may not excel in timed drills, but his speed is obvious on the field.
Quickness: Once again, Franklin’s quickness isn’t obvious in timed drills but it definitely shows on the football field. He isn’t elite in this area, but he absolutely has impressive quickness, burst, acceleration and change of direction speed. He isn’t the most elusive back in this draft class, but he can make defenders miss in the open field and win in the open field thanks to his quickness. His elusiveness isn’t his strong suit, but it is there.
Running Inside: I was very pleasantly surprised by Franklin’s ability to run inside. He isn’t a power back, but for a guy that is just over 200 pounds he runs hard, runs through arm tackles effectively, generates tough yardage after initial contact, and has good leg drive. I have seen some compare him to Maurice Jones-Drew, and I won’t go that far, but Franklin’s lower body strength was definitely a pleasant surprise. Franklin might not be elite as far as quickness but he is more than quick enough to hit the hole, runs patiently and I have no doubt that he can be successful running between the tackles at the next level.
Running Outside: Franklin has the speed to get the corner, the vision to find cut-back lanes on outside runs, the quickness to hit them, and the patience to let it all develop. He is very effective once he gets into the open field where he can hit the gas and outrun some angles. His game isn’t based off of making defenders miss in the open field, but he does have that ability. More than anything he can get defenders off balance and run through their poor arm tackles, and he does that effectively on outside runs. I love that Franklin doesn’t dance in the backfield and doesn’t hesitate once he finds a hole. I was also very happy with how good his balance was. His lower body strength and compact build help with this, but he is very rarely knocked down by a defender lowering a shoulder, and he regularly gains additional yardage when he isn’t wrapped up correctly.
Receiving: Franklin has soft hands and despite not being heavily utilized in the passing game at UCLA I have no doubt that he can be an effective receiver out of the backfield at the next level. He’d be a terrific fit for a team that runs a zone scheme and likes to integrate backs into the passing game. He can catch the ball away from his body and adjust to poorly thrown balls, and he will be very effective in the screen game at the next level. I didn’t see him run a lot of routes, but at the very worst he has shown he can gain significant yardage on underneath throws or swing passes in the flats at UCLA.
Blocking: Franklin’s lack of power-back bulk is evident in pass protection as he just doesn’t have the size or strength to pick up bigger, stronger front 7 defenders most of the time. Based on what I’ve seen he doesn’t have a lot of experience in pass protection and that might keep him off the field early depending on the team he goes to, but I think he can be coached up in this area. He flashes the willingness to step up and meet the defender and he showed that he can mirror and sustain at times. He needs work in this area, but he is such a potential threat in the passing game a smart team wouldn’t be keeping him in the backfield to pass protect constantly anyways.
Vision: I was thoroughly impressed with Franklin’s vision. He doesn’t dance around in the backfield waiting for a hole to open up, he finds cut-back lanes effectively both as an inside and outside runner, he uses his blockers effectively both initially and at the second level of the defense to gain additional yardage. Franklin definitely has NFL back vision and it’s one reason I think he could be a great fit in a zone-heavy running scheme.
Ball Security: This was a concern I’ve seen some voice about Franklin but despite that potential reputation I didn’t see anything that I red-flagged when I watched him. I saw him fumble one time and it was a result of a perfect punch as he was going to the ground from another tackler. From what I was able to see he carries the football with three points of pressure, keeps the ball close to his body through contact, and doesn’t drop it low when he is in the open field. I think a good running back coach could tweak anything that he thinks is wrong with his carrying style, but I didn’t see much that concerned me.
Overall: I’m a big Franklin fan and he is my #2 running back in this draft class. He may not be an elite back, but I think he is a terrific fit for a zone blocking scheme, particularly if the team running it passes the ball a lot and likes to involve their back in the passing game. Franklin has the speed to break off big runs, good vision, quickness, leg drive, balance and hands. He’s a complete back even though he may not be a 5’10”, 220 pound prototype. I think he definitely has the size to be an every down back and I expect that he will grow into that role if he is drafted into the right situation. Franklin does need some work in pass protection based off of what I’ve seen, but rookie running backs regularly need coaching up in that aspect of the game. Franklin looks like a very good zone scheme feature back to me and I would be surprised if he made it to the 3rd round.
Projection: Top 64. I have a 2nd round grade on Franklin and if he fell to the 3rd round I would be very surprised. I think he is a PERFECT fit for the Packers and if they pass on him at the end of the 2nd round then they deserve to have a mediocre running game. If he makes it to the middle of the 3rd I will be surprised.