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David Cobb has traits for early fantasy football success

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Leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, each day NFL Fantasy will profile a prospect who could make a splash in fantasy next season. Today's subject is former Minnesota running back David Cobb.

Despite setting his school's single-season rushing record in 2014, and performing well against top competition, Cobb's draft stock has lost a little bit of its luster in the lead-up to the big weekend. Part of that was a quad injury he suffered while running the 40-yard dash at the combine. That injury resulted in him posting a pedestrian 4.81-second time, and limited him to only a few drills the rest of the event. Cobb improved to a 4.65 at his pro day, but believes had he not suffered the injury he'd have clocked an even faster time. I'm sure Cobb hopes NFL scouts and GMs rely more on his tape than his injury-plagued pre-draft circuit, because that's where it's evident that Cobb has what it takes to deliver in the big leagues, and potentially fantasy leagues as well.

2015 NFL DRAFT

Draft coverage:
Video:

Cobb's NFL.com draft profile

Full "Prospect a Day" list

Strengths


     » Powerful back who finishes runs
     » Yards after contact monster
     » Good vision and balance
     » Decent hands as a receiver

I need to get this out of the way -- Cobb is my kind of running back. I've always been partial to the guys who finish runs with tenacity, and rarely step out of bounds without hitting someone first. That's Cobb, a classic powerful, leg-churning back who refuses to be brought down by arm tackles. As NFL Media's Lance Zierlein notes in his profile on Cobb (linked above), 54 percent of the back's yardage from 2013 to 2014 came after contact. That's insane, but it is also evident on every snap he takes.

Cobb isn't the shiftiest back, but he knows how to use what elusiveness he has well. He has subtle moves in the open field that help him slide by defenders with ease, and he has great balance to fall forward and gain extra yards after first contact. While he only caught 16 passes his senior year (and 34 in his career), he showed good enough hands to be able to make an impact in the passing game for his future team.

Weaknesses


     » Ball security is a big concern
     » Really needs to improve pass protection
     » Lacks quickness to bounce runs outside consistently
     » Could stand to trust blocking more

Cobb could be in for a reality check when he hits an NFL training camp in terms of holding onto the football. He had six fumbles in 2014, losing five of them. Fewer things land young players in the dog house faster than coughing up the pigskin. Moreover, Cobb desperately needs to improve his pass protection or his NFL snaps will be limited to running plays. Too often he was manhandled in pass pro, which resulted in a sack or broken play. That's also not going to fly in the NFL when the guy he's blocking for owns a roughly $100-million dollar arm.

Cobb has pretty quick feet for a guy his size, but they just aren't quite quick enough to allow him to bounce runs outside consistently. He tried plenty of times, but was often corralled by a penetrating lineman before he could hit the edge. This last gripe is a small one, as I really do like Cobb's vision, but too often he'd see multiple holes and get caught dancing between them. I'd love to see him be more decisive in those situations and just get what he can, rather than get caught in the middle.

Ideal NFL fantasy fits


     » San Diego Chargers
     » Jacksonville Jaguars
     » Arizona Cardinals

The Chargers are in need of a grinder at running back with Ryan Mathews gone, and Cobb could immediately be the early-down workhorse and not be a liability in pass protection with Branden Oliver and Danny Woodhead in town. Jacksonville could use a complete back to take some stress off Blake Bortles, and Cobb could be a bargain pick to fill that role after the first few rounds. Andre Ellington wore down in Arizona after too much use and contact between the tackles. Cobb would help keep him fresh while salting away yards and game clock with his ability to rack up yards after contact.

Early fantasy draft projection

Cobb has many of the traits that help running backs make a successful quick transition to the NFL -- speed, vision and power. If he lands in the right situation, he'll definitely be worth a late-round flier, even if he's originally slotted as the backup. Two somewhat similar backs (Andre Williams, Jeremy Hill) saw plenty of work in 2014 when the guy ahead of them went down or wasn't as effective, and Cobb could follow a similar path onto the fantasy scene in 2015.

-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

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