Zac Brooks – RB – Clemson
Rnd 7 Pick 247
If you are the one who predicted Seattle would draft 3 Runningbacks in the 2016 NFL Draft then congratulations to you and go buy a few lotto tickets. One could say that Zac Brooks was a surprise pickup at the end of the 7th Round, but the question was whether he was the pleasant surprise kind or the spill coffee on yourself and start your morning pissed off kind.
It is easy to see how a team could get excited about Brooks. He is a very athletic player with tons of burst and the ability to get separation in space and make a play. He ran a 4.45 40-yard and benched 225Lbs 18 times at his Pro Day. Everything you see on tape points at a measurables All-Star. He’s shifty, possesses plus lateral quickness, and catches the ball well. He’s a smart player, but he severely lacks instincts and understanding when it comes to running the ball. He has trouble finding the hole or cutback lane on a lot of plays and leaves a lot of yardage on the field that his physical tools tell you he could go and get. He burns on pure athleticism.
Brooks came to Clemson as a 4 Star Recruit, but played just 3 seasons (he lost his Junior year to a foot injury) and was never the primary back. He played some receiver and worked as a change of pace for a few big time players who stole the top spot on the depth chart. For his career he had 607 yards rushing, 197 yards receiving, and 8 total touchdowns. The fact that he averaged 5.2 yards per carry and 11.6 yards per catch show you that the big play potential is there, and a team could argue that he would have plenty of tread left on his tires after such light usage. However, as that indicates he is also likely to be very raw and possibly more of an athlete than a football player. Having 5 Special Teams tackles at least means that he can offer roster depth and get on the field in multiple ways, which always helps a late round pick’s chances of sticking on the roster.
This seems like your classic case of a player who was probably a priority UDFA that Seattle liked, but didn’t think they could recruit to camp. This pick could just have easily been on of the bigger name rookies that signed right after the draft like Travone Boykin, but they felt they had to take this route if they wanted to see him at all. He also does offer a lot of upside and some extra talent to take reps in the role that 3rd Rounder C.J. Prosise is likely marked for as a 3rd Down pass catching back.