He started on and off for three years and was implicated in Ohio State's recent NCAA troubles and forced to sit out the first five games of his senior year. He is an effective slasher-type with third- or fourth-round value. He would need to play special teams to make a 53-man roster and has displayed the physicality to do so.
He can quickly get to top speed and will accelerate throughout the play; he has deceptive top end speed. He is secure with the football and a good receiving option out of the backfield. Boom is tough and will stick his face in front of rushing linebackers effectively.
As a redshirt freshman, Herron stepped in admirably when Wells went down with an injury (89 rushes for 439 yards and six touchdowns, six receptions for 29 yards). He split carries with Brandon Saine in 2009 (153-600-7 rush, 11-66-1 rec), also losing some time due to a left ankle injury, before taking the lead as in his first-team All-Big Ten junior season (216-1,155-16 rush, 19-180 rec).
Herron will only have about one-half a season to set his draft status after being suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of 2011 for selling parts of uniforms he wore during games. But NFL teams won't see that as a major impediment to his having a very good pro career, as his straight-line speed, quick feet, and strength between the tackles should allow him to be picked in the top half of the draft.
Inside: Runs with some lean and toughness between the tackles, plows through traffic with lowered pads and usually falls forward for an extra yard. Sidesteps defenders in the hole, finds his way through creases inside. Usually follows his fullback but still veer off if he sees a large hole. Lacks size to be a true power back, will not move piles at the next level.
Outside: Possesses quick feet and straight-line speed to pick up chunks of yardage in the open field. Improving patience as a runner, following pulling guards and makes good decisions on his cut. Will switch ball to outside hand. Lacks a true burst through the hole and elite speed to break away or get the corner against NFL defenses.
Breaking Tackles: Runs through arm tackles in traffic and steps through wrap attempts in the open field, sometimes carrying defenders while churning his strong legs. Difficult to bring down one-on-one in space, regularly sidesteps would-be tacklers and uses off-hand to use oncoming defenders' momentum against them without slowing down significantly. Usually holds ball high and tight, only one career fumble when holding ball in front on jump over short-yardage pile.
Blocking: Offers little in pass protection. Lacks great technique cut blocking, fails to do more than slow down blitzers by laying down in front of them. Gives effort to get in the way of linebackers when leading from two-back set but does not sustain due to lack of aggression and strength.
Receiving: Adequate bringing swing passes in the flat and quick throws over the middle. Shows toughness running through poor tackle attempts after the catch. Inconsistent hands, makes the easy catch on the soft toss or throw into his chest but does not always adjust to low or wide throws.
Intangibles: Team player, willing to do what is necessary to win and often giving credit to his line and coaches. Brother, David, is an NFL linebacker after playing at Michigan State. Missed time in 2009 with a left ankle injury. Missing the first five games of the 2010 season due to suspension for selling parts of game-worn uniforms."
Nevertheless, is a naturally strong kid who gets better as the game goes on. Runs with a good forward lean when pressing the hole. Keeps his pad level down, is decisive when asked to pick his way through traffic and does a nice job setting up blocks inside. Isn’t overly fluid laterally, but displays impressive footwork/balance and has the ability to consistently side step/break tackles in tight areas.
Runs with a good foundation, is tough to knock off balance and once he slips/breaks a tackle, he accelerates quickly into the open field. Likes to finish runs into daylight, but isn’t overly dynamic in the open field. Possesses only average straight-line speed -- 4.5 range -- and can be tracked from behind. However, has the ability to create his fair share of long runs because of his ability to break tackles inside and at the second level.
Looks coordinated in pass protection, takes good angles toward his target, will drop his pad level into contact and routinely can cut his man to the ground. And has the type of demeanor to hold his own in blitz pick-up in the NFL.
Also, can catch the football out of the backfield. Isn’t going to create vs. man, but plucks throws off his frame and quickly snaps his head around, settles himself and can make a defender miss initially. Will miss the first five games of the season for being part of the Ohio State scandal where he was said to have sold memorabilia for benefits.
Impression: Isn’t dynamic really in any athletic and/or physical aspect. However, he runs with a strong base, has impressive short-area quickness and a natural feel between the tackles. Can certainly contribute early in his NFL career in a rotation and will create for himself if he has to."
Runs hard and has quick feet to elude tacklers in space, but his hip flexibility, vision and instincts are just average.
Lacks power to move the pile inside and too often tries to bounce runs outside instead of taking what is given."
Bold Statement: Herron will be the Delone Carer of the 2012 NFL Draft: A hard running middle-round running back with promise.
Games Viewed: (All 2010) Arkansas, Michigan, Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Miami
• Has good acceleration to work between the tackles, but not the next gear to break open big plays up the middle.
• Herron has a strong frame to take a hit and have tacklers bounce off his frame.
• Runs with a good amount of power in his base and does a nice job keeping his legs moving through the hole.
• Has been used very much in the passing game at Ohio State. Has shown on dump offs and short screens that his hands are decent.
• Doesn't elude trouble as well as you'd like, which makes you question his running vision to a degree.
• Came up big in Ohio State's biggest games in 2010, rushing for 456 yards and four touchdowns against Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan."
Has good vision and makes decisive cuts; also does a nice job setting up blocks; compact runner keeps pads low and legs driving and does not go down without a fight; more quick than fast, though, and lacks elite breakaway speed and explosion; also isn’t very shifty or elusive in the open-field;
Ran for almost 1,200 yards and 16 scores in 2010, but is one of several Buckeyes who will miss the first five games after being suspended for accepting improper benefits; also hasn’t been all that durable as he missed parts of 4 games in 2009 with an ankle injury and 2 more the previous year with a concussion."
Does a good job of staying tight to his blockers when he cuts... Although he's not very fast, has good acceleration and gets to his top speed fairly quickly... Tough to contain in short areas... A willing pass blocker who takes on his assignments... Good finisher, always fighting for the extra yard...
Great receiving ability out of the backfield, displays soft hands and is a natural at setting up the screen... Split carries for his first few years at Ohio State so he hasn't been banged up much... Has no durability concerns... Despite the suspension last year, by all accounts is a hard worker and a good locker room guy with good intangibles.
Negatives -- A one-speed runner who lacks a second gear and has trouble getting to the corner at times... Will shuffle his feet too much at times rather than just planting and going up the field... Was always a power runner in college, but at his size he will struggle to run that way in the NFL, will not be able to run through linebackers at the next level...
Missed the first six games of 2011 after being suspended as part of the Ohio State scandal, found the end zone just three times in seven games coming back from suspension compared to 16 TDs in 13 games as a junior...
A bit of a tweener, will have hard finding a niche as an NFL runner... Has small nine inch hands which make it harder to hold onto the football."
Aside from the apparent off-field concern, Herron is a nice combination of size, speed, vision, power, and quickness. He isn’t Adrian Peterson by any means, but Herron is the type of guy who can definitely grow and succeed in the NFL. Quicker than fast though when he gets into the open field he is hard to bring down. Not really a change of pace back, but a guy who can make plays for you.
I would put him in the fourth round discussion at this point, though some have him rated higher. He has excellent agility, but is not a great zone or outside runner. Power runner between the tackles who is at his best in open space. Definitely the type of back that likes to stick his shoulder down and drive ahead rather than use finesse or speed."