Darius Anderson wants to be called Jet.
He made a name for himself in the pre-draft process with that declaration, but failed to fly up the draft boards after running a 4.61 at the Combine. Though he doesn’t possess elite speed for a starting running back, he sees the field well and has enough burst to get up field. With only four career fumbles and a resume that proves he’s a capable receiver out of the backfield. He has also proven that he can return kicks and punts with success.
One of Anderson’s biggest weaknesses is in pass-protection, where he hasn’t been very good. In the NFL, this is a prerequisite to getting on the field, and may limit him to a back-up role at the next level. He isn’t a gamebreaker, but he maximizes every carry and fights for every inch on the football field, things that make him valuable in short yardage and obvious running situations. He hits the hole hard and finds space, but doesn’t necessarily create his own lanes as effectively when the blocking breaks down.
For TCU fans, Anderson was a fire and ice type player; he would put together unbelievable performances (160 yards in an upset over #6 Oklahoma State, 154 yards and a 93 yard touchdown against the Buckeyes, 179 yards and two scores at Purdue), but he had just seven 100-yard games across his four year career, and outside of a three game stretch in 2019 (179 at Purdue, 161 against SMU, and 115 against Kansas), he rarely strung together back to back high-level performances.
All of that being said, the upside is high for Jet, who has proven he works well in a shared backfield and that he can be a threat as a runner and pass-catcher. In the right system, he is the perfect change of pace guy, and the type of player that has enough upside to be intriguing. He’s played at least 11 games in each of his four seasons, and though he has dealt with some injuries, he has a lot of tread left on the tires with just 430 career attempts — for reference, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor had 320 carries last season alone — something that makes him likable despite being a four-year running back in college.
Anderson’s projections for the 2020 Draft are all over the map; some scouts like him as early as the third round, while most expect him to go towards the end of the process, in the 6th or 7th. He is built like an NFL back and will likely have staying power, but he doesn’t flash on tape the same way that his former teammate Sewo Olonilua does, as just a freak athlete. That being said, I anticipate he will come off the board early Saturday and carve out a role for himself in his first two years in the league.