By Kip Earlywine
Weight: 200 lbs.
40 time: 4.42
- Great burst/explosiveness
- Nice start/stop
- Smooth yet shifty runner
- Good vision
- Makes good cuts
- Good inside runner
- Nice balance of patience and decisiveness, good instincts
- Good punt returner
- No character concerns
- Very hyped and highly recruited out of high school
- Durability concerns
- Not very strong, doesn't break many tackles
- Mediocre pass pro
- Fumbles more than you'd like
- Not a feature back, needs to share the load
- Very fast 2nd gear, but no 3rd gear to speak of
Joe McKnight is a pretty talented running back and a very good fit for a zone blocking scheme. His combination of cut/vision/burst is surpassed only by Jahvid Best and CJ Spiller, in my opinion. McKnight's best asset his is explosiveness, which like Jahvid Best is good enough to use even after the 1st level to make defenders miss. McKnight ran a 4.42 forty time at the combine, nearly identical to Mathews 4.41. He's not a true home run threat, but he is a pretty big threat to go 20-40 yards at any time. I wouldn't consider McKnight a "playmaker", but then again, Gibbs RBs typically aren't home run hitters and still have great success.
Watching McKnight run feels like watching a normal sized and much faster Justin Forsett. Forsett excels because of his burst and ability to penetrate the first level, and he's also a very instinctive runner with great vision and great decision making. Despite Forsett's slow speed, he's got above average shiftiness which really helps him in the 2nd level. Forsett is also a very good inside runner despite his size. Forsett doesn't lack effort, but he's physically weak due to his size and is mediocre in pass pro. I see all these same things in McKnight, with better punt return ability and with significantly more speed.
McKnight's biggest issue is his health. He never suffered a serious injury, but he constantly suffered minor ones, much like Montario Hardesty.
McKnight had a pretty good combine performance, but it doesn't appear that's helped his draft stock very much. Some people are even talking about him as a 5th rounder right now, but I think he will most likely be gone by then.
Expect him to be drafted... Rounds 3-4.