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Is Marshaun Coprich ready for the NFL game?

Leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft, each day NFL Fantasy will profile a prospect (or two) who could make a splash in fantasy next season. Today's subject is former Illinois State running back Marshaun Coprich.

Inevitably when doing draft scouting, you're bound to run across a prospect who posts eye-popping numbers at a lower level of competition. It's the type of scrutiny that quarterback prospect Carson Wentz has gone through during this draft season. It's also the same type of evaluation that Marshaun Coprich is undergoing. I took a look at the former Illinois State Redbird to see if he was ready to take his talents to the NFL level.


» BURST!!! Able to exploit creases at line of scrimmage
» Quick feet, able to make precise, agile cuts
» Adequate receiver who could be used more as pass-catcher
» Strong, compact frame makes him hard to tackle

The first thing you notice about Coprich on tape is the explosion once he has the ball in his hands. It didn't take long for him to get to the second level of the defense, using his initial burst to exploit the narrowest holes at the line of scrimmage. Even when Coprich's path appears blocked, he has the agility to make quick cuts and leave defenders lunging at ghosts.

Coprich wasn't a big part of Illinois State's passing game -- he caught just 33 passes in his final two seasons -- but he did display reliable hands out of the backfield. It's an asset that teams at the NFL level could certainly look to take better advantage of. While he hasn't been a consistent kick returner since his freshman season in 2012, Coprich does have some experience in that area which could help his transition to the NFL game.


» Concerns about level of competition
» Needs to get stronger, finish runs better
» Good speed, but not a breakaway runner
» Off-field issues will lead to character questions

Over the past two seasons, Coprich amassed an astounding 4,474 yards of offense with 51 touchdowns. But critics will immediately note that he did it against the FCS-level Missouri Valley Football Conference. During that same stretch, one of his worst games came against the only FBS teams he faced. The Iowa Hawkeyes held Coprich to just 32 yards on 13 carries to begin the 2015 season, forcing him to be tentative and indecisive at the line of scrimmage. That's certain to raise questions about whether he will be able to excel against NFL-level competition.

Even against lower-level opponents, Coprich didn't display a lot of muscle at the end of his runs. While he could be hard to catch in a phone booth, once defenders were able to corral Coprich, he didn't deliver much punishment. Since Coprich doesn't have the type of speed that will lead to many home run plays, he'll have to eventually learn to be more physical on his runs. He'll also have to answer questions about his character after an offseason drug-related arrest led to a suspension and stripping of his team captaincy.

Ideal fantasy fits

Coprich will have to make his mark as part of a committee once he enters the NFL and while many teams employ running back rotations, there might be fewer teams in need of a complementary back than you'd imagine.

The Giants always seem to be on the lookout for help to boost their head-scratchingly confusing rushing attack, with a motley crew of characters occupying the depth chart behind Rashad Jennings. After Carlos Hyde, the 49ers' running back cupboard is bare which could offer an opportunity for Coprich. The Seahawks appear to have struck gold with Thomas Rawls who, like Coprich, played at a smaller school and found his draft stock plunge after off-field issues. Perhaps they could have that same appetite in order to add running back depth in the wake of Marshawn Lynch's retirement. And Washington ... well, who knows what their future will be at running back. But adding more bodies couldn't hurt, right?

Early fantasy draft projection

The questions about Coprich's ability to play against top-level talent will continue to dog him throughout the draft process and might not be answered until we see him perform in an NFL training camp. If he can translate his game tape into a requisite facsimile at the pro level, then his ceiling might be higher than anyone has given him credit for. Until then, there's little reason to think Coprich will be taken in redraft leagues and might be only worth an end-of-draft flier in dynasty leagues.

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Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for Follow him on Twitter @MarcasG.

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