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Georgia Tech Football: NFL Scouting Report - RB Zach Laskey

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Our NFL Draft Scouting Reports continue with a fan favorite who brings a lot to the table and has drawn significant intrigue from multiple NFL teams.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

College Career

Rushing Receiving
Year Att Yards Avg Long TD Rec Yards Avg Long TD
2014 171 851 5.0 26 9 6 49 8.2 24 1
2013 84 485 5.8 33 7 3 54 18.0 24 1
2012 133 697 5.2 56 1 6 122 20.3 70 2

Laskey's stats could have been much better over the course of his career, but he never really got the chance to be the go-to guy at B-back for the entire season. In his freshman year, Laskey was nothing more than a punt returner. He also played some as a defensive back that year.

In his sophomore year, Laskey made the move to B-back and made an impact almost immediately. In the second game of the season, against Presbyterian, Laskey carried the ball 12 times for 116 yards and scored a touchdown. He exploded for another 100-yard rushing performance against Boston College later that season, rushing 17 times for 101 yards. He had at least 10 carries in six games, and went for at least 50 yards in as many games as well.

After gaining more rushing yards than incumbent starter David Sims and finishing with 819 all-purpose yards, there were some who thought Laskey might overtake Sims for the starting job in 2013. That was not the case, however, and Laskey was forced to play second fiddle once again to Sims.

His two best games of the season came against Syracuse, where he ran for a career-high three touchdowns, and against Virginia, where he ran the ball 16 times for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, his numbers decreased due to Sims remaining healthy for his entire senior season.

The next season, Sims had graduated and Laskey was in line to become the starter and finally get his chance to show everybody what he could do. The production that was needed from him only increased after the departures of backups Travis Custis and Donovan Wilson.

Laskey did a good job as the lone guy at B-back for the first seven games of the season, averaging just over 17 carries per game for 85 yards per game. His best game in that set was against Miami where he helped the Jackets hold onto the ball for over 40 minutes of that game with his career-high 29 carries for a then-career-high-tying 133 yards.

It was shortly after that career performance that Laskey was hurt late in the game against North Carolina and Synjyn Days came to start in his place. After rushing for over 400 yards in the three games Laskey missed, Days overtook Laskey for the starting job for the rest of the season, forcing Laskey to once again play the role of backup.

Did that stop him from giving everything he had to this team? Certainly not. Against Georgia, Laskey went on a hot streak and ended up finishing the game with 26 carries for a new career-high 140 yards and three touchdowns (including the game-winner).

Pro Day Results

Height Weight 40 Yard Dash Vertical Jump Broad Jump 3-cone Short Shuttle Long Shuttle Bench Reps (225 lbs)
6'1" 225 lbs 4.58 sec 35 inches 10' 4" 6.94 sec 4.17 sec 11.20 sec 19

The biggest takeaway from Laskey's measurable numbers is that he's very athletic for his size. When compared to the 36 running backs who attended the NFL Combine, Laskey's 40-yard dash time would have tied him for 15th, his broad jump would have tied him for 5th (out of 34 participants), his 3-Cone drill would have put him at 7th (out of 27 participants), and his short shuttle would have been good for 10th (out of 27 participants). Keep in mind two things here: first, the field he's being compared to here include some huge names on the national scene last year -- Georgia's Todd Gurley, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, Alabama's TJ Yeldon, South Carolina's Mike Davis, Miami's Duke Johnson, Florida State's Karlos Williams,  and Boise State's Jay Ajayi, just to name a few. Second, Laskey displayed all of this athleticism after weighing in at 225 pounds, which makes him heavier than 75% of the field. Simply put, Laskey is more athletic than most likely would have given him credit for, and athleticism is something NFL teams always tend towards when selecting players.

Film Study

For this study, I'm watching Laskey's games from Miami, uga and Florida State. Miami and uga were his two best and FSU was his worst game.

Strengths

Receiving

It's no secret that Laskey was Georgia Tech's best receiving option from the B-back position. That was perfectly evident from one of the first plays we ever saw from him. On the first snap of the 2012 home game against Virginia, Tevin Washington dropped back with Laskey out on a wheel route. Washington found Laskey mismatched against a linebacker, and 70 yards later Georgia Tech had an early touchdown on the board.

Over his career, Laskey recorded 15 catches for an average of 15 yards per reception and 4 touchdowns, largely in a backup role. That doesn't seem like much, but it's considerable when put next to the combined 7 catches for 3 touchdowns that David Sims had as a full-time starter between 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Quickness

One advantage Laskey does hold over Synjyn Days is his quickness in hitting the hole. Laskey carried less weight and was able to burst right through the holes the O-line opened up pretty easily. He proved to be a very downhill runner with little hesitation upon seeing a gap to run through. For evidence of this, of Laskey's 388 career carries, plays that went for a loss consisted of a combined 5 lost yards. Put another way, Laskey gained 2,038 yards in his career and lost only 5 yards, for his career total of 2,033 yards. Whatever happened in front of him, Laskey could always be counted on to get back to the line of scrimmage at the very least, and he almost always found ways to create some sort of positive yardage.

Athleticism

As documented above, Laskey may be the most athletic B-Back to play at Georgia Tech outside of Jonathan Dwyer. He showed great speed and versatility, not only adding value up the middle on B-Back dives, but also on the edge on speed options and in the passing game with his hands. Laskey is much more than a simple one-trick pony and could add value to an NFL offense in all phases of the game.

Weaknesses

Power & Physicality

Laskey's speed and athleticism make him tough to catch in the open field, but if someone happens to get in his way, more often than not he struggles to break the tackle. From watching his film, he was definitely the more finesse runner of Tech's two B-backs. As a three-down back in the NFL, the ability to run between the tackles and break through to the second level is crucial. It doesn't bode well for him as an NFL prospect that, even with his athletic gifts and big frame, Laskey routinely struggled to break tackles and win physical battles against opponents' front sevens at the college level. Part of this could be explained (and remedied) by...

Leverage

It's no secret and it's one of Laskey's worst features that he runs by virtually standing straight up. His natural tendency not to run behind his pads takes away from his ability to run over players and negates the advantages that his size could offer. If he's able to learn to run with a lower pad level, it would make his speed and size so much more valuable and dangerous, validating him as a legitimate running back at the NFL level. Until then, this may be his Achilles' heel as a prospect.

Taking Himself Out of the Play

On plays where Laskey isn't really involved (such as an A-Back toss), he doesn't typically even try to get to where the action is and help with blocking or anything. It's unclear if this issue is caused by a lack of effort or understanding or a perceived lack of self-importance in those instances. One thing that is clear, though, is that if Laskey wants to make it into the NFL, he'll have to get into the fray when he's not involved in the play.

NFL Fits

New England Patriots

All of these fits for Laskey are teams which know how to use versatile players like Laskey. If anyone can find a way to use any player ever, it's Bill Belichick. The man is a genius of a head coach and with Laskey's combination of athleticism and determination, the two could make for a fantastic combination. With the Patriots, Laskey could do virtually anything he wanted to. He could easily fill in at running back, including as a third-down back. He could also prove to be a useful slot receiver for Tom Brady in an offense that isn't afraid to split out running backs.

Philadelphia Eagles

This one is more of a system fit. While they're not exactly the same, there are certainly some similarities between Chip Kelly's offense and Paul Johnson's. In the Eagles' offense, Laskey could be capable of filling the role that the Eagles wanted James Casey to fill last season: the H-back role. Laskey would give them a player in that role who could provide a credible receiving threat while also having potential as a more power-oriented ball carrier. The other major duty of this position would be serving as a blocker, particularly in the rushing game, which hasn't been Laskey's best quality but also isn't a glaring weakness.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are one of the first teams that come to mind when thinking about making use of versatile players. No one would expect Laskey to come in and unseat Marshawn Lynch as the starter, but like with the Patriots, he could prove to be a useful third-down back or slot receiver. The Seahawks are in need of players with potential as receivers, and Laskey's skill set would help to fill that need.

Verdict

Laskey was a good B-back for Tech and a big fan favorite. It's not entirely clear how his skillset will translate to the NFL, but with his patience and determination, I'm confident in saying he will make an impact somehow. It might turn out, though, that his impact will be in a less traditional role, such as that of a fullback, H-back or slot receiver. He's not the biggest, the strongest or the fastest, but is a strong all-around athlete who will work hard and at the very least provide excellent depth no matter who he ends up with. His blocking and receiving abilities could very easily give him a spot on a team as an H-back, which is a position Laskey could very well thrive in. However, with the relative lack of production in college and the nature of Georgia Tech's offense, it's unlikely that Laskey gets drafted. Even still, he will certainly be picked up and given a chance to prove himself, and that's all he'll need.

Prediction: UDFA