Drafting Running Backs: The Value of Pass Protection and Receiving Skills

Drafting Running Backs: The Value of Pass Protection and Receiving Skills

Are you looking to enhance your knowledge of drafting running backs for your fantasy football team? In this article, we will delve into the importance of pass protection and receiving skills when selecting running backs. We will discuss how these skills can greatly impact the success of your team and provide valuable insights into making informed decisions during the drafting process. Whether you are a seasoned fantasy football player or a beginner, understanding the significance of pass protection and receiving skills will give you a competitive edge. Read on to discover the keys to building a winning team with running backs who excel in these areas.

The Importance of Pass Protection

Pass protection is a crucial aspect of a running back’s skill set in football. It refers to the ability of a running back to effectively block defensive players and protect the quarterback from being sacked or pressured during passing plays. Understanding the role of pass protection, recognizing its impact on the quarterback, and mastering key techniques for effective pass protection are essential for any running back looking to excel in today’s game.

Understanding the Role of Pass Protection

Pass protection is not just about physical strength and size; it requires a deep understanding of the offensive scheme and the ability to read defensive formations. Running backs must be able to quickly identify potential blitzers and adjust their blocking assignments accordingly. Their primary responsibility is to prevent defenders from reaching the quarterback, allowing him time to find open receivers and make accurate throws.

The Impact of Pass Protection on the Quarterback

Pass protection plays a significant role in the success of a passing play. When running backs effectively pick up blitzing defenders, the quarterback has more time to scan the field, make progressions, and deliver accurate passes. On the other hand, if the running back fails to execute proper pass protection, the quarterback may be hurried, sacked, or forced into making ill-advised throws under pressure. A running back’s ability to provide reliable pass protection can directly influence the success of the offense.

Key Techniques for Effective Pass Protection

To excel in pass protection, running backs must master several key techniques:

  1. Footwork and Positioning: Proper footwork and positioning are essential for maintaining balance and leverage while engaging with defenders. Running backs must be able to quickly shuffle their feet, stay square to the line of scrimmage, and maintain a solid base to absorb contact and anchor against bull rushes.

  2. Hand Placement and Punching: Correct hand placement allows running backs to control defenders and steer them away from the quarterback’s throwing lane. They should aim to strike defenders with a powerful punch, using their hands inside the defender’s chest plate to maintain control and redirect their momentum.

  3. Recognition and Communication: Running backs must be adept at recognizing blitzes and communicating with their offensive line and the quarterback. This involves understanding defensive formations, identifying potential threats, and effectively communicating blocking assignments to ensure everyone is on the same page.

  4. Awareness and Adjustments: Pass protection situations can be dynamic, with defenders attempting various moves to get past the running back. It is crucial for running backs to have the awareness to anticipate these moves and make quick adjustments to neutralize the threat. This may involve using cut blocks, chip blocks, or recognizing delayed blitzes.

In conclusion, pass protection is a vital skill for running backs in football. Understanding the role of pass protection, recognizing its impact on the quarterback, and mastering key techniques are essential for running backs to excel in this aspect of the game. By providing effective pass protection, running backs can contribute significantly to the success of the offense and ensure the quarterback has the necessary time and space to make accurate throws.

The Value of Receiving Skills

Receiving skills have become increasingly valuable for running backs in today’s NFL. With the evolution of the passing game and the emphasis on utilizing running backs as versatile weapons, their ability to catch passes has become a crucial aspect of their overall value. In this article, we will explore the importance of receiving skills for running backs and how it can benefit both the individual player and the team as a whole.

Expanding the running back’s role as a receiver

Gone are the days when running backs were primarily expected to run the ball and occasionally block for the quarterback. In today’s game, running backs are frequently utilized as receiving threats out of the backfield or even split out wide as a slot receiver. By expanding the running back’s role as a receiver, teams are able to create additional opportunities for offensive production.

When a running back has the ability to catch passes, it opens up a multitude of possibilities for the offense. They can be used as check-down options for the quarterback, providing a safety valve when the primary receivers are covered or the pocket collapses. Additionally, running backs with receiving skills can be utilized in screen plays, where they can use their agility and elusiveness to gain significant yardage after the catch.

Creating mismatches in the passing game

One of the biggest advantages of having a running back with strong receiving skills is the ability to create mismatches in the passing game. Linebackers and safeties are typically responsible for covering running backs in the passing game, and they often struggle to keep up with the quickness and agility of these versatile players.

When a running back is lined up against a linebacker or safety, it creates a favorable matchup for the offense. Running backs with receiving skills can exploit these matchups by running crisp routes, utilizing their quickness to create separation, and using their reliable hands to make difficult catches. This puts the defense in a bind, as they must allocate extra resources to cover the running back, potentially leaving other areas of the field vulnerable.

Developing reliable hands and route-running abilities

To truly excel as a receiving threat, running backs must develop reliable hands and route-running abilities. Catching the ball consistently is of utmost importance, as drops can lead to wasted opportunities and even turnovers. Running backs must work on their hand-eye coordination, focus, and concentration to ensure they can make difficult catches in traffic.

In addition to catching the ball, running backs must also hone their route-running abilities. They need to be able to run crisp routes, create separation from defenders, and be in sync with their quarterback’s timing. By developing these skills, running backs can become reliable targets in the passing game and contribute to the overall success of the offense.

In conclusion, the value of receiving skills for running backs cannot be overstated. By expanding the running back’s role as a receiver, creating mismatches in the passing game, and developing reliable hands and route-running abilities, teams can maximize the potential of their running backs and gain a significant advantage on the field. As the NFL continues to evolve, running backs with strong receiving skills have become a prized asset for any team looking to enhance their offensive firepower.

In conclusion, when it comes to drafting running backs, the value of pass protection and receiving skills cannot be underestimated. While a running back’s ability to gain yards on the ground is certainly important, their contributions in the passing game can make a significant impact on the overall success of an offense. By effectively protecting the quarterback and being a reliable target in the passing game, a running back can become a valuable asset in both the running and passing attack. As teams continue to evolve and place a greater emphasis on the passing game, the importance of these skills will only continue to rise. Therefore, when evaluating running backs in the draft, it is crucial for teams to consider their pass protection and receiving abilities in order to maximize their value on the field.