By MICHAEL FAIRLIE //
Given the fact that the halfback position is one of the most pressing needs for the Jets heading into the 2016 season, especially with Ivory and Powell halfway out the door, the team is surely doing its homework on this year’s draft class at the position.
Even if the team finds a way to retain one of their two pending free agent running backs, they are going to need someone else to help carry the load in the Jets backfield. There are several intriguing options that are expected to be available in the middle rounds of the draft.
One interesting possibility that is expected to be chosen somewhere between the 3rd and 5th rounds of the draft is Indiana University’s Jordan Howard.
After spending his first two years at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Howard transferred to Indiana when UAB shut down its football program following the 2014 season.
When he got to Indiana, he replaced Tevin Coleman, a 2015 third-round pick of the Falcons, amassing 1,213 yards on 196 carries for a 6.2 ypc average and 9 TD’s. During his two seasons at UAB, Howard had 451 carries for 2,468 yards and 15 TD’s, earning first-team All-Conference USA honors in his sophomore season.
At 6’1 225 pounds, Howard is an extremely well-built, forceful runner who has the courage and strength to power through tackles and the ability to gain solid yardage after contact. He also has the leg drive, tenacity and punishing style to eventually develop into a workhouse back.
Additionally, he is deceptively fast for his size, displaying the second gear needed to disrupt the direction of pursuing defenders.
On top of everything, Howard is remarkably agile, getting in and out of his cuts quickly, along with the vision and balance to follow his blockers to openings and pivot his way through to daylight.
While it is true that he has an adequate second gear, Howard does lack the explosive acceleration to leave everyone in his dust on his way to the endzone. He also has limited experience as a pass catcher, totaling 24 catches for 261 yards in his three years of college ball, although he did have 11 catches for 106 yards during his junior year in 2015 and demonstrated some serious potential on screen plays.
Even though he is not renowned for his blocking abilities, Howard has proven to be adequate in pass protection, but also often has a habit of catching defenders rather than controlling them.
Furthermore, due to the physical nature of his running style, Howard tends to take a lot of big hits which led to him missing four games in 2015, although he did prove to be quite durable for the most part during his college playing days considering his tendency to welcome contact.
Jordan Howard might not be the top-rated running back available in the 2016 NFL Draft, but he could end up being a steal in the middle rounds. He consistently displayed the capacity to boost his game against top competition during his time at both UAB and Indiana, which is vital for a player to be truly successful in the NFL. Howard also rushed for at least 145 yards in every game he played from start to finish throughout his college career. He is one of only a handful of backs in this draft with the potential to be an every-down starter on the next level.
You can read my Jets Pre-Combine Mock Draft article from 2/24/16 by clicking below:
You can read my article from 2/19/16 on NYJetsNews.Com about a few options for the Jets in the 1st Round of NFL Draft by clicking the following link: