2013 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Johnathan Franklin
Elusive, shifty runner
Speedy back with a burst
Enough speed to break off long runs
Stronger than one would think
Finishes runs well
Quickness to the second level
Ready to contribute in the NFL
Good blitz-protection ability
Nice cutting ability
Runs with good balance
Probably can't add much weight, bulk
Good, but not elite, speed
Summary: Entering the 2012 season, Franklin was an under-the-radar prospect who didn't have any buzz for the 2013 NFL Draft. All of that changed within the first two weeks of the year as Franklin ripped off consecutive 200-yard games against Rice (15-214) and Nebraska (26-217). He was excellent for the Bruins f rom start to finish and was their feature back.
Franklin averaged 6.2 yards per carry this season while churning his way to 1,734 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 33 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns.
Franklin had been a good contributor for UCLA prior to this big season. He ran for 976 yards and five touchdowns in 2011. His sophomore season was more productive with 1,127 yards and eight scores. The drop in yards and touchdowns weren't Franklin's fault as the Bruins struggled throughout 2011.
Franklin has real quickness and is shifty, but is more physical and tough than one would think. When he gets to the second level of the defense, he powers through defenders and finishes his runs well. Franklin has the ability to get some yards after contact. He showed some real power and toughness in the Pac-12 Championship game by running for 194 yards on 19 carries against Stanford and its physical defense. It was a very impressive performance.
As a runner, Franklin uses his speed, shiftiness and cutting ability to pick up yards in chunks. He has enough speed where he can break off long runs and score if he gets into the open field. Franklin is also a skilled receiver out of the backfield who runs good routes and is dangerous in the open field.
Franklin really helped himself with a solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl. He ran the ball well and really impressed with his ability to contribute to the passing game. Franklin did very well in the blitz protection one-on-ones. He fit up on linebackers well and did a good job as a receiver.
Franklin is a well-rounded back for the NFL who is capable of playing all three downs. He isn't the biggest of backs, so he may better off as part of a stable of backs. Franklin is a sleeper running back for the mid-rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft who could turn into a nice value pick.
Player Comparison: Ronnie Hillman. Hillman and Franklin both look like running backs who are good scat backs, but could shoulder a bigger load than most running backs with that skill set.
Hillman (5-9, 196) was a third-round pick in 2012, and Franklin could go in that region in April. He should be an early-round selection on the third day of the 2013 NFL Draft - if he doesn't go on the second day. Hillman and Franklin are slightly different in that Hillman is faster while Franklin is bigger.
Both Franklin and Hillman should be good NFL speed backs who contribute in the passing game as well as carrying the ball. They both look like running backs for a rotation, rather than feature backs who rack up 300 carries per season.
NFL Matches: Detroit, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Atlanta, Denver, Tennessee
There are a lot of different landing spots for Franklin in the mid-rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Lions are looking for another running back, and Franklin would fit their offense well. He could quickly contribute to their passing attack as a blocker and receiver.
Cincinnati may have the biggest need at running back of any team in the NFL. If the Bengals don't use one of their first three picks on a back, the team could consider Franklin in the third round.
Franklin would be a good fit in the Packers' offense. He would be a good pass-protector and receiver for Aaron Rodges while also providing a running option.
Denver head coach John Fox likes a running back-by-committee approach. Franklin could combine with Hillman in the long term to lead the Broncos' stable of backs. Tennessee could use another option to back up Chris Johnson, and Franklin would be a good back to turn to if Johnson has another slump.