Scouting Report: Why C.J. Prosise (RB) is the Perfect Fit for Adam Gase’s Offense
After losing out on Lamar Miller and C.J. Anderson in free agency, the Miami Dolphins need to find answers. The running back position went from being one of the few areas of the roster in good shape to being a serious weakness for the team. The Dolphins cannot count on Ezekiel Elliott in the first round, due to both his projected value and the other needs on Miami’s roster. So, they will have to look towards the later rounds.
When the Dolphins are on the clock at the end of April, they will have to discuss fortifying the backfield with their 2nd-4th round picks. If they choose to use one of those picks on a running back, it could very well be C.J. Prosise that is boarding a plane for Miami.
Background & Stats:
C.J. Prosise was heavily recruited as a defensive back out of high school. He played receiver and safety at Woodberry Forest School. Prosise, while racking up gaudy stats on the football field, was also a track athlete, winning the 55-meter and the long jump at multiple events.
Prosise was not active during the 2012 season, but managed to make it onto the field as a receiver and played special teams in 2013. He started three games at receiver that season. During the 2014 season, Prosise began his path towards playing running back full-time. While making big plays at receiver, he started taking some handoffs. By 2015, an injury forced C.J. Prosise to become the starting running back, where he was able to shine for the Irish.
In 2015, he racked up 1,032 yards and 11 TDs, all in just 10 games.
C.J. Prosise is a very raw prospect. He is still getting used to the position, and was not expected to understand the nuanced elements of playing RB in 2015. With that being said, it is more important to focus on the physical traits that Prosise could use to apply a greater understanding of the position in the future.
Prosise possesses a unique combination of size and speed. He is 6’0” and weighed in at 220 lbs. in Indy. Often, players of his size struggle with cuts or nimble maneuvers through the hole. Prosise, while he might struggle with his decisiveness, does possess good vision, which becomes a strong asset when paired with his cutting ability.
On this play, Prosise has outstanding help from his offensive line. He is able to see the hole develop in the middle of the field and quickly change directions to exploit a hole in the USC defense. He might not be outstanding in terms of decision-making, but he is able to see plays develop and has the physical ability to make adjustments when cutting.
It is also rare for a player of Prosise’s size to be able to accelerate as he does in open space.
C.J. Prosise shows good speed, acceleration, and vision here. Often, Prosise struggles to make good decisions because he doesn’t understand the blocking scheme (he’s new to the position). However, when he does know how the play is developing, he can be lethal. When he finds himself just a few players removed from breaking the run for a touchdown, he shows the ability to kick it into second gear and leave his competition in the dust. Yes, he can do all of this at 220 pounds.
Prosise can also use that large frame to his advantage in the power run game. Here is an example from the team’s matchup with USC:
On this play, the blocking fails and Prosise is swarmed in the backfield. He is able to use a spin move to evade the tackles, then pushes his way into the end zone. Prosise struggles with some of the technical elements of the position, but one thing he clearly understands? When in doubt, just keep those legs churning.
Prosise also demonstrates toughness in his willingness to block.
Like all facets of Prosise’s game, his blocking lacks technique. However, he seems to have a general instinct as to where he needs to be when helping protect the quarterback. For players heading into the NFL at skill positions, half of the battle is making sure they are willing to throw their weight around and work against linemen. For Prosise, there is a clear willingness to do the dirty work.
C.J. Prosise has all of the physical traits you can ask for in a running back. However, this is also true of many players who don’t pan out in the pros. What separates the gifted from the great? A true understanding of the intricacies with which their position is played. Prosise is new to the running back position, and it often shows. He will need to improve in his technique across the board when he gets to the NFL.
Prosise also needs to consistently lower his pad level when running in the pros. He currently opens himself up to tacklers unnecessarily and would be much more efficient if he could bring down his pads. This is something that players often struggle with immediately upon switching to the running back position.
Prosise might have good vision, but he often struggles with decision-making. He sometimes will freeze in the backfield, and there is a very fine line between patience and being too slow to make a break. Often, Prosise cannot use his vision because he simply doesn’t understand the blocking scheme in front of him.
Pass protection was also somewhat of an issue for C.J. Prosise. He is willing to throw his body at defenders, but does not understand protection assignments and needs to improve in that area to become a consistent blocker. Rarely do college running backs truly understand what is being asked of them in protection, but Prosise’s inexperience at the position makes it a striking lack of understanding in his case. He is fully capable of becoming a good pass protector, but it will take time.
There is also a durability concern with Prosise. He has suffered several nagging injuries during his career at Notre Dame.
Comparison: Arian Foster
Foster’s size and physical abilities make him an easy player to draw a parallel to for C.J. Prosise. Both players manage to maneuver with quickness, make strong cuts, and use their size to their advantage. There are ceiling comparisons, and there are floor comparisons. This is a ceiling comparison for Prosise, as he has the physical abilities to succeed in a similar fashion to Arian Foster.
Prosise, like Foster, has very good vision. However, Arian Foster is also a very decisive running back. If Prosise wants to have success in the pros as Foster has, he will need to work on his decision-making and pass protecting ability.
Fit in Miami:
Other than Ezekiel Elliott (who fits in any system), there aren’t many better running backs for what Adam Gase wants to accomplish than C.J. Prosise. His time at receiver obviously lends itself to elite ability as a pass catcher. He is raw, but willing to block. He also could benefit from being in a committee system, given his durability concerns and lack of technical knowledge.
C.J. Prosise would be a good fit for the Dolphins, and the Dolphins would be a good fit for Prosise. Adam Gase would have a pass catching running back who has the ability to break a game open thanks to his physical gifts, and Prosise would land in a spot that allows him to develop his skills without the burden of immediately having 20+ touches per game. Splitting time with Ajayi would allow Prosise to develop his skills and potentially become a serious weapon for the Dolphins.
C.J. Prosise is about as raw as a prospect could be at the running back position. He has only started at the position for one season, and prior to that he had only taken 10 handoffs at the collegiate level. However, it says something about Prosise’s ability that teams are still considering drafting him as high as the second round.
The Miami Dolphins would be hard-pressed to find a running back that better fits the Adam Gase offense than C.J. Prosise. His experience as a receiver lends itself well to his productivity out of the backfield catching the football, an element of the position that Adam Gase places great value on.
If the Miami Dolphins are able to draft C.J. Prosise in the 3rd round, it will be considered a success by the team. Getting him in the 4th round would be a highway robbery.
The Dolphins desperately need help at running back, and if C.J. Prosise is able to sure up his technical proficiency at the position, then he could be a very productive player in the NFL for a long time. However, the risk is clear in that he will never be able to reach his potential if he is unable to pick up the intricacies that go along with playing running back.
When it comes down to which team gambles on C.J. Prosise, you should be very excited if that team happens to be the Miami Dolphins.