Photo of Darren McFadden
Grade
?
  • 4.33 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 128.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6'2" Height
  • 210LBS. Weight

Overview

Darren McFadden, a two-time Heisman runner-up, is regarded as one of the finest players in college football in recent years and one of the best to come out of the University of Arkansas.

The two-time Doak Walker Award winner shattered numerous school and Southeastern Conference records during his three seasons at Arkansas, establishing himself as one of the league's elite all-time backs -- Herschel Walker of Georgia, Bo Jackson of Auburn and Emmitt Smith of Florida.

McFadden was often utilized as the quarterback in the "Wildcat" formation, dominating defenses with his running and passing. He shared the backfield with another 1,000-yard rusher and first-team All-American kick returner Felix Jones, as the duo formed the most potent running back tandem in the nation, helping the Razorbacks average 286.54 yards per game on the ground in 2007.

In 38 games as a Razorback, McFadden rushed for over 100 yards 22 times. By winning the Doak Walker Award in both 2006 and '07, he became just the third Arkansas player to ever garner national award recognition in the 112 years of the program, joining Bud Brooks (1954 Outland Trophy) and Loyd Phillips (1966 Outland Trophy).

By gaining 1,113 yards rushing in 2005, 1,647 in '06 and a school-record 1,830 yards in '07, McFadden joined Georgia's Herschel Walker (1980-82) as the only players in Southeastern Conference history to rush for over 1,000 yards as a freshman, sophomore and junior. He is also the second UA player to rush for 1,000 yards three times, joining Ben

Cowins (1976-78). McFadden is the first to do it in his first three seasons.

At Pulaski Oak Grove High School, McFadden became the only player from the state of Arkansas to be named to the Parade All-American team in 2004. The two-time All-State, All-Area and All-South choice was chosen the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Offensive Player of the Year as a senior and was also selected to that newspaper's All-Arkansas squad.

McFadden was ranked as the No. 23 prospect in the nation and the top prospect in Arkansas by Rivals.com. The organization also rated him as a five-star prospect and the third-best athlete in the country. Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report rated him as the eighth-best running back in the nation. He was ranked 21st on the Mobile Register's Super Southeast 120 listing. He was also listed 21st in The Dallas Morning News Top 100. He was among the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Super Southern 100 and participated in the 2005 Arkansas High School All-Star Game.

McFadden was tabbed as the Class 4A-Southeast Conference's Outstanding Back, as he racked up 1,965 yards and 27 touchdowns on 184 carries as a senior. He averaged 10.7 yards per carry and scored three or more rushing touchdowns in six games during his final campaign. He made three receptions for 67 yards and one score. He completed 6-of-15 passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns as a quarterback. He also returned nine punts for 370 yards and three touchdowns.

As a junior, McFadden rushed for a school-record 2,027 yards and 19 touchdowns on 204 carries. He averaged 9.9 yards per attempt, leading his squad to an 8-4 record and second-place finish in the Class 5-AAA Conference. He hauled in nine passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns as a junior. He also earned 103 yards on 12 punt returns. In his sophomore campaign, he rushed for 859 yards and 13 touchdowns on 109 carries. He hauled in 12 receptions for 333 yards and five scores. He also returned 10 punts for 82 yards and 14 kickoffs for 372 yards.

McFadden totaled 4,871 yards rushing on 497 attempts in his prep career and averaged 9.8 yards per carry. In addition to football, he was a standout in baseball and track and field in high school. He was also recruited by a host of other schools including Tennessee, Alabama, Nebraska, Auburn and Iowa, but decided to enroll at Arkansas after attending Houston Nutt's Football Camp as a junior.

McFadden's arrival at Arkansas was met with much fanfare and he certainly did not disappoint, setting school freshman rushing records with 1,113 yards and 11 scores on 176 carries (6.3-yard average) in 2005. He caught 14 passes for 52 yards, returned 12 kickoffs for 348 yards (29-yard avg) and averaged 137.5 all-purpose yards per game.

He earned All-American honorable mention from Pro Football Weekly and first-team fresh-man All-American accolades from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), College Football News, ESPN.com, Rivals.com, Scout.com and The Sporting News. He was also named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year by the Associated Press and the league's coaches.

As a sophomore, McFadden's rushing yardage total of 1,647 on 284 attempts (5.8-yard average) was more than that of 54 of the 119 Division I-A teams (45.4%), while his 14 rushing touchdowns were better than 43 teams nationally (36.1%). The consensus All-American was the recipient of the Doak Walker Award and finished second in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. He also had 11 receptions for 149 yards (13.5-yard average) and a score while completing 7-of-9 passes (77.8%) for 69 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 26.2 yards with a score on ten kickoff returns and 147 all-purpose yards, scoring 98 points. He also rushed for over 100 yards eight times.

McFadden had an up-and-down junior campaign, but still garnered consensus All-American honors while again winning the Doak Walker Award and finishing second in the Heisman Trophy race. He gained over 100 yards rushing 10 times, as he broke his own school record with 1,830 yards and 16 touchdowns on 325 rushes (5.6-yard average). However, he did fumble the ball 15 times, with the opposition recovering five of them. He had 21 catches for 164 yards (7.8-yard average) and a score, hit on 6-of-11 throws (54.5%) for 123 yards and four touchdowns, scoring 102 points. He finished the season with 102 points scored and gained 2,310 all-purpose yards, an average of 177.69 yards per game.

In 38 games at Arkansas, McFadden carried 785 times for 4,590 yards (5.85-yard average) and 41 touchdowns. He grabbed 46 passes for 365 yards (7.9 avg) and two scores, as he also returned 38 kickoffs for 926 yards (24.4 avg) and a touchdown. He completed 14-of-22 passes (63.6%) for 205 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception while recording five solo tackles with a fumble recovery.

McFadden totaled 268 points with 44 overall touchdowns and amassed 5,881 all-purpose yards (154.76 yards per game). He ran for 100 or more yards in 22 games, but had 23 fumbles, losing nine.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has a solid, thick build with tapered thighs and calves, athletic physique with a tight waist and hips, low body fat and defined upper body...Has the quick feet and balance to pick his way through trash, doing a nice job of staying upright to power through the initial tackle...Has the pick-and-slide agility to make defenders miss, showing outstanding acceleration and flexibility when changing direction...He has that rare speed and explosive second gear to be very elusive getting through traffic, thanks to sharp lateral cuts...Plays with good toughness, lowering his head and driving hard with his legs after contact...Can bounce off tackles and gives good second effort when his initial move fails...Willing blocker who shows the ability to pick up blitzes and will chip defenders with good intent and purpose...Has the field vision and awareness to find the open crease and excels at anticipating cutback lanes...Looks natural with the ball in his hands, as he is a threat running, throwing or catching the ball, but did have ball-security issues as a junior...Understands blocking schemes but will out-run his protection at times...Highly respected by the staff and teammates, demonstrating a solid work ethic...Might not be able to always push the pile, but has the functional lower-body strength to stay up, bounce off and execute his lateral range with good quickness...Has that initial step needed to accelerate and get to top speed quickly and clear the holes...Gets a quick start, as seen in the way he demonstrates crisp cutting ability and is the type that doesn't need to gear down when changing direction...When he shows patience running with the ball, he has the extra burst to get through trash...He gets off the snap smoothly, thanks to his suddenness coming out of his stance...Has natural running instincts, showing a very nice feel for the rush lanes, as he anticipates openings and has made marked improvement in using his vision to set up his blocks...His vision allows him to see threats well and play the hand that he is dealt (see 2007 Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina and Louisiana State games)...Has the feet to sidestep trash and the body control to slide through holes, doing a nice job of bursting through tight seams...With his superb balance, he is very smooth when changing direction, showing a sudden burst out of his cuts...Lowers his head and squares his shoulders to compete for extra yards after contact...Has the speed to get outside, make the cut and turn it up the field, as he uses quick footsteps when running in-line...Maintains acceleration bursting past the line of scrimmage and is more than just a one-cut runner...His acceleration allows him to separate and his body controls allows him to maintain balance throughout his runs...Makes quick decisions, especially on the jump-cut...Has outstanding lateral range to slip off tackles in the open...Has the speed to get downfield in a hurry on pass routes and is fluid and quick getting into his patterns...Understands coverage and where he fits catching underneath throws...Does a good job of reaching and plucking the ball, especially on screens...Natural hands catcher who can snatch the ball outside his frame work...Will take on the blitz and has developed good cut-blocking skills...Will not hesitate to face up and stone the opponent blocking in-line...Very easy for him to change direction with his balance and plant-and-drive agility. Negatives: Has very good field vision, but needs to show more patience waiting for his blocks to develop (will out-run his protection, at times)...Strong open-field runner, but needs to develop better ball security and protect the ball closer to his body, as fumble issues posed a big problem in 2007 (15 fumbles, five turnovers, see Chattanooga, Troy, Florida International and Louisiana State games)...Has good inside running skills, but must improve his lower-body strength...Will sometimes get upright in his stance, allowing defenders to clog the rush lanes (see 2007 Chattanooga, Auburn, Mississippi State and Louisiana State games)...Protects the ball well in traffic, but most of his turnovers come on improper ball distribution in the open...Also has a high amount of fumbles fielding the kickoff, as he tends to run before securing the ball...Was hurt in an off-field fight in July, 2006, undergoing surgery to repair a left toe fracture...Has natural hands as a receiver, but needs to improve extending for the pass away from his frame...Sometimes drifts in his routes and needs to show better cutting ability on his breaks. Compares To: MARSHALL FAULK-ex-St. Louis...McFadden is a stronger runner than Faulk, but both are blessed with exception vision, using pitter-patter feet to get through trash and the "home run" acceleration to separate from defenders past the line of scrimmage. He is an efficient receiver out of the backfield, running precise routes and could even be split wide. He has the arm strength to throw the option pass and can also earn playing time as a kickoff returner, but needs to work on ball-security issues after he had 15 fumbles in 2007, many of them on special teams. He is certainly the best athlete eligible for the 2008 draft and has an array of weapons that will make any offensive coordinator drool. In an imaginative offense, he could be a regular participant in the Pro Bowl.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
CONTENT
15