Photo of Justin Forsett
Grade
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  • 26 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 6.96 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 5'8" Height
  • 190LBS. Weight

Overview

With the success that Jacksonville had with Maurice Jones-Drew and the production that San Diego has received from Darren Sproles, NFL teams are no longer shying away from using draft picks on height-challenged running backs.

Enter Justin Forsett -- a one-year starter whose ability as a change-of-pace runner made him Cal's third-leading all-time rusher with 3,220 yards.

Despite starting just 17 games during his career, Forsett ranks fourth in school annals with 26 touchdowns on the ground. He is also tied for second in Cal history, running for at least 100 yards in 15 games.

Forsett led Grace Prep Academy to back-to-back state championships in the Texas private school division, earning Class 4A first-team All-State and Most Valuable Player honors. He was a member of the Dallas Morning News' All-Area Top 100 team and participated in the Texas All-Star Game, earning MVP accolades in that contest.

The explosive running back scored 63 touchdowns and rushed for nearly 5,000 yards during his last two seasons. He darted for 2,560 yards and 38 scores, leading the team to a 12-1 record in 2003. As a junior, he amassed 2,365 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns, as he led the squad to an 11-2 mark. He also lettered in basketball and track at Grace Prep after spending his freshman and sophomore semesters at Polk County (Mulberry, Fla.) High School.

Forsett enrolled at California in 2004, seeing action mostly as a gunner on the special-team coverage units. He gained 49 yards with a touchdown on 11 carries (4.5-yard average) and had an 11-yard kickoff return. He also recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a score.

As a sophomore, Forsett served as Marshawn Lynch's backup, starting three of 12 games. He grabbed seven passes for 68 yards (9.7-yard average) and gained 70 yards on four kickoff returns (17.5 avg). He rushed 132 times for 999 yards (7.6 avg) and six touchdowns, falling one yard short of joining Lynch (1,246 yards) in becoming the 38th running back tandem in NCAA history to both rush for over 1,000 yards in the same season.

In 2006, Forsett managed two more starting assignments while appearing in all 13 games. He collected 626 yards with four touchdowns on 119 attempts (5.3-yard average) and caught 12 passes for 116 yards (9.5 avg), including one score. He also recorded three tackles (two solos) and gained 81 yards on five kickoff returns (16.2 avg).

Forsett was an All-Pac-10 Conference first-team choice as a senior. He earned multiple team honors including the Bear Backer Award as the team's offensive MVP and the Stub Allison Award (Most Inspirational). He set the Cal record with 305 rushing attempts and ranks second on the school list with 1,546 yards on the ground (5.1-yard average), as he scored 15 rushing TDs. He added 202 yards on 22 receptions (9.2 avg) and recorded one solo tackle.

In 49 games at California, Forsett started 18 games, including 13 as a senior. He ranks third in school history with 3,220 yards rushing and fourth with 26 touchdowns on the ground, as he carried 567 times (5.7-yard average). He caught 41 passes for 386 yards (9.4 avg) and a score, adding 162 yards on 10 kickoff returns (16.2 avg) while recovering a blocked punt for a touchdown. He also recorded seven tackles (six solo) on special teams.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Lacks the size you look for in a tailback, but has a well-defined, muscular upper body and, while he displays shorter-than-ideal arms, he has large hands and thick calves for a frame his size...While some assume injury will be an issue due to size issues, Forsett has never missed game time due to injury...Has a great passion for the game and is a favorite of the Cal staff, not only for his work ethic and character, but for the way he took many of the younger players under his wing...Has above-average balance, change-of-direction agility, body control and hand-eye coordination...Reaches top speed quickly...Might not have the explosive first step you look for in a scatback, but he does get to top acceleration nicely...Student of the game who studies film and is smart enough to devise a game plan (takes notes with the staff)...Aggressive runner attacking the hole and even though he will usually get absorbed running in-line, he has the feet to bounce wide and pick up yardage (needs to take better angles, as he can be captured from behind)...Won't overpower bigger defenders, but has enough strength to impact on secondary players...Instinctive runner with good vision to find seams and avoid trash, as he picks up his feet and jumps over legs with good balance...Might not generate long finishing speed, but has good acceleration turning the corner...Even though he is not sudden, he becomes much quicker once he is on the move, showing crispness in his plant and drive...Presses the hole to make cuts at the line of scrimmage, knowing how to get skinny running though small areas...Not going to be the type that will move the pile, but has the vision to locate another crease...Runs inside with no hesitation, but even when he lowers his pads and falls forward, he is just marginal being used in short-yardage, goal-line situations...Shows good patience letting blocks develop and can change direction quickly when he reaches the corner...When he changes his angle, he can easily bounce outside...Has good in-stride acceleration once he's rolling, but must change his angle in order to prevent defenders from chasing him down (does not have the sudden burst to win long footraces)...Shows quick jump cuts to avoid in the hole and is shifty in space, but must do this with consistency...Fumbles were not an issue in the past, but he did have problems with defenders attacking the ball...More of a body-catcher due to his short arms, but has the large hands to cradle the pass nicely...Shows the short-area quickness to separate after the catch, but is not used on anything more than simple, controlled routes...Works hard to finish blocks when working in space and, when he tries to cut, he can stall second-level defenders. Negatives: Has muscular but shorter-than-ideal arms and lacks the size and bulk you look for in an every-down tailback...Compensates with a solid physique and good strength to break arm tackles...Has good initial quickness, but lacks the explosive burst and suddenness to consistently get past second-level defenders...Has good weight-room strength, but his lack of size and bulk allow the bigger defenders to absorb and bring him down consistently on initial contact...Needs to take better angles in the open field (more of a straight-line runner), as he has been caught from behind regularly...Just an adequate receiver, as his short arms, lack of height and adequate leaping ability don't give him a chance to combat for jump balls...Drifts when running long patterns and is generally just effective on short-area routes rather than threatening the secondary...Must do a better job of trying to catch the ball outside his frame...Had some fumble issues as a senior and needs to run with the ball closer to his body and distribute it away from defenders when turning the corners...Has a well-built, short frame that can't carry any more weight without having it impact his quickness...Not a physical inside runner and is quickly absorbed trying to attack the rush lanes between the tackles (better when bouncing outside or when taking cutback lanes)...Must do a better job of driving hard with his legs in attempts to push the pile...Has good hand placement and is a willing blocker, but lacks the sand in his pants to face up and hold his ground vs. bigger linebackers coming on the blitz (better utilized as a cut blocker). Compares To: MAURICE JONES-DREW-Jacksonville...Forsett might be short, but he is an instinctive runner with the vision to quickly find seams. If he can avoid defenders rather than attack them, he generates good yardage turning the corner, but will be absorbed trying to push the pile between tackles. He is just an adequate receiver best served as a safety valve. He shows quick jump cuts to avoid defenders and is very shifty operating in space. If used as a change-of-pace back, like Jones-Drew, some team will get decent production from him. If a team plans on making him a featured runner, he will soon break down, as he lacks the body to absorb constant punishment.
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
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