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Georgia Tech Football: NFL Draft Scouting Report - RB Synjyn Days

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With the NFL Draft Approaching, we'll be taking a look at each of Tech's NFL hopefuls, assessing their strengths, weaknesses, fits at the next level. First up: RB/FB Synjyn Days

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Several different areas are going to be assessed in these evaluations. First, we'll take a look at their Georgia Tech careers, summarizing stats and other information. Next, we'll analyze their pre-draft measurables and compare them to others in this draft class. Then, the film will be analyzed to take a look at what the numbers don't tell. Finally, we'll discuss fits. What will they bring to the table, and which NFL teams could utilize their skills?

College Career

Rushing Receiving
Year Att Yards Avg Long TD Rec Yards Avg Long TD
2014 157 924 5.9 69 9 3 33 11 17 1
2013 27 93 3.4 14 4 4 48 12 18 0
2012 23 142 6.2 41 1 0 0 0 0 0
2011 48 237 4.9 30 4 0 0 0 0 0

For NFL teams evaluating Days, the fact that he has only had significant production for one year will be a significant red flag. In fact, Days has only had about half a season of significant production in his college career. After bouncing around to three different positions in Georgia Tech's Spread Option offense, there wasn't many opportunities until an injury to B-back Zach Laskey finally opened a door.

Days was originally recruited by Paul Johnson to play quarterback, the position he played in high school. In 2011, he was the backup to Tevin Washington, and saw a limited number of significant snaps.

In the offseason prior to 2012, he lost the backup QB job to Vad Lee and was transferred to A-back. The coaches felt he was too good of an athlete to not see the field. However, Days was unable to get many carries in either of his two seasons at the position.

He was occasionally able to see the field, however, due to his skill as a lead blocker. In 2014, he cross-trained between the A-back and B-back positions, but was primarily a B-back. At the start of the season, Laskey was the entrenched starter, and got almost all of the B-back carries. However, Laskey was injured during the seventh game of the season, and that was when Days' season became remarkable.

At first glance, the total season doesn't look like much. Days didn't quite get to 1,000 yards, but that he did it in only seven games of heavy workload is a more impressive feat. In order to give a better representation of how he did during this stretch, let's take a look at his performances during the second half of last season.

Rushing Receiving
Opponent Att Yards Avg Long TD Rec Yards Avg Long TD
Pittsburgh 22 110 5 13 0 0 0 0 0 0
Virginia 24 147 6.1 33 1 1 17 17 17 1
NC State 19 157 8.3 53 1 1 6 6 6 0
Clemson 20 89 4.5 22 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 16 94 5.9 15 0 0 0 0 0 0
Florida State 19 67 3.5 17 3 1 10 10 10 0
Mississippi State 21 171 8.1 69 3 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 141 835 5.9 69 8 3 33 4.7 17 1

Over this stretch, the only teams to really slow Days down were Clemson, who had an excellent run defense, and Florida State. He left the Georgia game late with an injury. His numbers against NC State and Mississippi State were astounding, posting over eight yards per carry and over 150 yards total in each game. Days was able to run for 835 yards in the season's final seven games, averaging nearly six yards per carry and at an average of 119 yards per game.

It's a huge risk, however, for an NFL team to take a player with only such a small window of success. Many players who have successful final seasons after years of limited production bust in the NFL, while others become stars. Drafting or signing a player with the track record of Days would be a calculated risk on the part of any franchise.

Pro Day Results

Height Weight 40 Yard Dash Vertical Jump Broad Jump 3-cone Short Shuttle Long Shuttle Bench Reps (225 lbs)
6'2" 230 lbs 4.63 sec 31 inches 9'8" 6.99 sec 4.33 sec 11.78 sec 22

Size is Days' best asset here. The workout numbers are mostly average among this year's running back prospects, with the exception of the of the bench press and the 3-cone drill. Days' 22 reps on the bench would have tied him for tenth at the combine, and his 3-cone time would have been seventh best outright, showing his ability to fluidly change direction without losing a lot of speed.

The bench numbers were good, but I honestly expected him to do better than this considering his size and power. Ameer Abdullah, who is only 5'9" 205 lbs, was able to get two more reps on the bench than Days. Bench press is, however, a terrible measure of functional strength. The most disappointing numbers were the two jumps. The bad jump numbers show a lack of burst, which we'll see again in the film study.

Film Study

For the film study, I focused on three games: NC State, Florida State and Mississippi State. The NC State and Mississippi State games were Days' best statistically, while the Florida State game was his worst.

Strengths

Power

Considering his frame, a certain amount of power is to be expected from Days. On film, it shows in a big way. He doesn't make many plays where he bowls over the top of defenders, but he consistently gets Yards after Contact (YAC) by dragging defenders with him. Days also does a good job of falling forward when he goes down, even when met at the line of scrimmage. This makes him incredibly hard to throw for a loss, and means he can reliably convert in short yardage situations. This play from the NC State game gives a good illustration of how Days adds yards to each carry. The play isn't flashy by any means, but he is able to gain solid yardage after being hit and wrapped up by several defenders.

There are things Days could work on as a power runner, however. He needs to do a better job of breaking tackles. On film, it's clear he can finish runs, but he his better at dragging tacklers than he is at breaking tackles. This makes Days a reliable runner, but not an explosive one. Days also goes down too easily when hit low, and needs to do a better job of clearing his feet from the tackle attempt.

Fluid Runner

Days doesn't do a great job of making defenders miss with his cuts, but he does have the ability to change direction without losing much speed. This allows him to bounce runs outside much more effectively than his counterpart, Zach Laskey. Days is an instinctive runner who makes quick decisions when changing directions, while having good body control and bend for his size. This fluidity allows Days to navigate the trash well or bounce outside if the hole has collapsed.

Pass Protection

As an A-back in the Spread Option, Days learned how to cut block effectively, a technique that translates well to picking up blitzing defenders. His ability to pick up the blitz worked well with quarterback Justin Thomas, who is comfortable outside of the pocket. Often, Days would cut the blitzing player to the ground, allowing Thomas to escape and find an open receiver, as can be seen in the following clip:

It should also be noted that Days was called for holding on a later play in this game, but there were more plays where he blocked well than plays were he blocked poorly. The NFL continues to be a passing league, and the ability to protect the QB is a requirement for any RB hoping to be drafted, so his ability to pass block is definitely a strength.

Vision

During a triple option play, the B-back is at a disadvantage reading the hole for two reasons. Not only does he not know whether or not he will be getting the ball, but he also has to remain heading in the same direction through the entire mesh, which, as one would expect, takes longer than a normal hand off.

Days was able to shine, however, in situations where there was a designed dive. At full speed, the dive looks just like a triple option, but upon closer inspection, the blocking scheme is different, and the quarterback isn't making any reads.

While executing these plays, Days showed that he could identify which holes were opening, and knew when to bounce outside or drive up the middle. Days' first touchdown from the Orange Bowl is a good example. After the hand off, he is patient and waits for his blocks to develop. Once he recognizes that the trap block has been executed successfully, he finds a cutback lane and goes in for the score.

Weaknesses

Burst

This is the biggest thing missing from Synjyn Days' game. In his pro day workout, he didn't test exceptionally well in the drills measuring acceleration, and his film backs those numbers up. Days was never able to hit the hole as fast as Zach Laskey and isn't particularly quick in and out of his cuts either. Thus, he isn't great in space and rarely makes defenders miss. He adjusts to his blocking well without losing much speed, but he can get caught from behind occasionally because he doesn't explode out of his cuts.

Drive Blocking

If teams look at Days in more of a fullback role in the NFL, he'll need to show that he can lead runners through the hole without cut blocking. This is something he didn't do much at Georgia Tech. As an A-back, Days almost exclusively threw cut blocks. This habit followed him to the B-back position, and will have to be coached out of him at the next level.

Cut blocking works for pass protection, blocks in space, and cutting off backside pursuit, but doesn't work well for lead blocks up the middle. During the game against NC State, Days leads Tim Byerly up the middle on a QB run, but chooses to throw a cut block. Byerly is able to find the end zone, but a drive block in this situation would have given him a much cleaner hole through which to run.

Speed

Days playing speed on film was decent, but not spectacular. His lack of burst and elite speed greatly limited the number of explosive plays he could generate. He did have a few breakaway runs during the season, but not many. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that he ended last season over 240 lbs. He has slimmed down the draft process, and could show teams improved speed in private workouts. Improving on his pro day speed and acceleration numbers will be essential to gaining more draft interest from NFL teams.

More Clips

Here are a few more of Days' plays of interest from last season.

Clip 1

This one is from the Orange Bowl, and is a pretty good example of how well Days can pass block. He absolutely destroys the rusher coming off the edge, and allows Justin Thomas to escape and find Darren Waller for the first down.

Clip 2

The next clip show some of the versatility that Days has in his game. He starts this play by pass protecting, then disengages and goes down field to provide a safety valve for Justin Thomas. After catching the ball, he finishes off the run by lowering his shoulder and meeting the defender head on for a good gain.

Clip 3

Against, NC State, Days had a long run for a TD that was both a positive and a negative. He showed good speed on this play, and was able to break away from the secondary, but he also was barely touched the entire play. One might ask "how is that a negative?" One of the knocks on Spread Option B-backs is that their production is more due to the play of the offensive line than the B-back himself.

This is another symptom of the "three yards and cloud of dust" myth that surrounds this offense. So the question here is, did Days put up big numbers because of his own skill, or did he only get what the offensive line gave him? Simply looking at the numbers can answer this question.

Days averaged 5.9 yards per carry in 2014, which is almost a whole yard more than fellow B-back Zach Laskey. If all of his production was due to his blockers, Days and Laskey would have put up more similar numbers. On top of that, almost 6 yards per carry is way too much to be completely credited to the offensive line. Days was great at getting YAC, and it shows in his statistics.

Clip 4

The final clip is arguably Days' best run of his career at Georgia Tech and shows some of the improvements he made over the course of the season. In my film evaluation, I criticized Days for not being able to break tackles and failing to clear his feet from defenders who go low. I also criticized the fact that he often loses his feet when taking on tacklers. He does none of these things during this play, making great moves in space and staying in bounds after getting hit near the sideline.

NFL Fits

Carolina Panthers

By NFL standards, the Panthers' offense is somewhat old fashioned. It's built around the run, and the team carries a FB/HB hybrid in Mike Tolbert and a FB/TE hybrid in Richie Brockel. I could see Days fitting either or both of these roles. Tolbert will turn 30 this season, and that's never a good thing for a RB who has been battling injuries. With his skillset, Days could become "Riverboat" Ron Rivera's fourth down ace in the coming years. He could easily put the required weight on his frame, as he reportedly played in the mid 240s at the end of last season. I think this type of role may be what's best for him in the NFL.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona signed former Yellow Jacket Jonathan Dwyer last offseason to be a powerful complement to the versatile Andre Ellington. With Dwyer's off-the-field trouble this season, they may move on to someone else. Ellington, who excels as a receiving back, would be well-complemented by Synjyn's power. Days could also be an excellent pass protector for Carson Palmer, who is nearing the end of his career and coming off a major injury.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have reportedly shown interest in Days, and he has tweeted out messages hinting at a private workout with the team. With new Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan, a player like Days makes sense. He likes a physical runner who can run between the tackles, and made good use of FB Darrel Young with the Redskins. Days would also complement Devonta Freeman well, creating a dangerous tandem.

Verdict

Days is a risky prospect who showed excellent production during the second half of his senior year. NFL teams often will take gambles on prospects who have limited film, but many of these prospects have great athletic upside. Days pro day numbers and lack of burst don't show a great upside, so it will be imperative that he improve on his numbers in private workouts. Improved workouts will provide an incentive for teams to take the risk and draft Days. The team that eventually picks him up through either the draft or free agency will have to utilize his strengths well. Lining him up in the traditional tailback role every down won't cut it. Days needs to be utilized primarily between the tackles in short yardage and red zone situations. His pass blocking could also get him a lot of snaps on third down at the next level.

Prediction: 7th Round-UDFA