Ht: 6’ 1” 235 lbs.
Strengths: Strength, toughness, Power, Vision, Patience, Explosiveness, Blocking, nose for the end zone.
Weaknesses: Not much at all, speed is a question mark, but he looks very fast on the field.
Early projections make the 2010 NFL Draft the “Year of the Big Back” as seniors LeGarrette Blount of Oregon, Charles Scott from LSU and Toby Gerhart out of Stanford and junior Jonathon Dwyer of Georgia Tech are listed as some of the best backs available for next year. All four are at least 230 lbs and all four could potentially be franchise backs at the next level.
Only the fifth Stanford RB to reach 1,000 yards, Gerhart proved his status as a top prospect by running for 101-yards and a TD against USC and 103-yards with a TD against Cal last season (both Cardinal losses), finishing the year on a strong note for the 5-7 Cardinals. For the year, Gerhart had 8 100-yard games, including a 152-yard, 2 TD game against Oregon State and 138-yards and 2 TD in a close loss to UCLA, 23-20. Gerhart’s 1,136 yards set the school record.
His 2007 season became a wash due to a knee injury, but he gave a glimpse of his potential after cruising for 141-yards and a TD on only 12 carries against San Jose State in his only action of that year. In 2006, he was Stanford’s second leading rusher with 403-yards.
A power back with excellent speed, Gerhart is simply too powerful for many LB and especially defensive backs to handle. He runs with no fear and can surprise defenders with a good burst through the middle. Able to plow through defenders or bounce of them, Gerhart possesses the sound feet and balance to keep plays alive, pushing forward for extra yards with defenders draped over him. Lacks an extra, breakaway gear but has the speed to get outside and makes life miserable for corners trying to bring him down. Shows great patience in letting the play develop and the vision to find a crease. His strength carries over into pass protection and he’s already proficient in this area.
Gerhart has solid hands and can catch the ball out of the backfield. As Stanford’s lone offensive threat, Gerhart routinely had to face extra defenders in the box looking to slow him down. Few succeeded as he was credited with only 40 yards for loss on the entire season.
A member of the Stanford baseball team as well, Gerhart will need to ease team’s minds that he is focused solely on football but it seems like football is where his career is taking him. Gerhart lacks the burst and explosiveness to make him truly elite as a prospect and will likely keep him from being an early selection. In the open-field he has few moves but does possess a little wiggle in him to at least keep from taking huge hits. As he continues to develop, he will learn to harness his power even better, a scary thought for future opponents.
Not as flashy as other backs and not at the level of Dwyer, who could be one of the best backs to enter the NFL, don’t sleep on Gerhart. He’s expected to carry the ball 25 times a game in 2009 and his stats should rise once again. He may not be a Heisman candidate but an injury free season and more solid games against big boys like USC, Cal and UCLA should assure Gerhart of at least a second round pick come next April.
Toby Gerhart Update:
As predicted, a rise in Gerhart’s carries (18 to 24 per game) has given a rise in Gerhart’s production. He leads the nation in touchdown runs by a large margin with 27 TDs and he is currently ranked second in the nation in rushing with 311 carries for 1,736 yards. He is in the hunt for the Heisman Trophy and looks to me like a legitimate late first/ early second round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft.
He has great hands and can catch the ball out of the back field as good as any of the smaller scat backs, the only thing that might cause him to slip into the 3rd or 4th round is if he has a mediocre run at the NFL Scouting Combine.