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The Cleveland Browns added a versatile offensive weapon with their final selection in the 2021 NFL draft. In the sixth round, the Browns drafted UCLA running back Demetric Felton with the No. 211 overall pick.
Felton had an interesting college career for the Bruins, one that left different evaluators with some pretty mixed opinions before the draft. Here’s a sampling of what some of the more prominent scouting reports had to say about Felton in the pre-draft guides.
The NFL’s official website valued Felton as a fifth/sixth-round prospect. Analyst Lance Zierlein liked the versatility as both a receiver and a runner as well as his return specialist potential,
Hybrid talent with experience as both a runner and volume pass-catcher who might be targeted to make a full-time transition to the receiver position. Felton’s Senior Bowl week showed off improved route running and an ability to compete against press. His run-after-catch talent gives his draft profile a boost at receiver, but clever offensive coordinators might be well-served to maintain his versatility as a two-position player to help create more options from a personnel grouping and matchup standpoint. With an ability to carry the ball, catch the ball and return kicks, Felton offers scheme and roster flexibility that could push him up the board.
The player comparison is a fitting one, with Zierlein noting the similarities between Felton and veteran Theo Riddick, who moved from slot receiver in college to receiving-oriented RB as a 6th round pick by the Lions in 2013.
The Athletic/Dane Brugler
Veteran analyst Dane Brugler didn’t even rate Felton as a running back. Instead, The Athletic views Felton as a receiver–and not a great prospect as a WR, either.
The No. 26-ranked wideout, Brugler notes of Felton that he “uses his body to finish catches” and “unnecessarily jumps at the catch point”. Yet the overall assessment paints a somewhat useful picture of Felton, albeit as a receiver and a return man,
Primarily a running back in college, Felton will require time to sharpen his awareness and skills, but his route construction, break quickness and ball skills were impressive during Senior Bowl practices at receiver. Regardless of how he gets the ball, the explosive movements and speed are there for him to threaten opponents in different ways. Overall, Felton comes with fit and refinement questions, but he can be a matchup weapon with his flexibility out of the backfield or at receiver. He projects best in the slot and as a return man.
The scouting team at Ourlads tabbed Felton as a sixth- or seventh-round prospect. Written in scout-speak, the evaluation harps on several familiar negatives,
Top end speed is limited. Doesn’t have the speed to run away from defenders
in space. Short area quickness doesn’t have the next gear. Easy to take down for defenders when they get two hands on him. Won’t be overly effective as an inside rusher. Too many false steps as a route runner when he is split out. Needs to get off the line with more assertion. Small catch radius and doesn’t have great staying power in traffic.
But the positives also sing familiar notes, and they are very appealing for the role envisioned for Felton in Cleveland,
He is someone who should not be restricted to one spot on the depth chart. His quickness, acceleration with the ball, and vision can be used in a variety of ways. He can run routes and catch the ball like a slot receiver and
knows how to press the running lane like a seasoned running back. Is
a unique and versatile threat who should add multiple options to an offense. Advanced route running tactics that stem from elite stop-and-go quickness and foot speed. Can shake his way in and out of contact with a defender. Stays clean and free from contact by cover corners and linebackers alike. A hard guy to even touch in space. Excellent vision and anticipation of angles with the ball in his hands. Can set would-be tacklers up and make them miss in tight spaces.
The Draft Network
The crew at The Draft Network also ranked Felton as a receiver and not a running back. Of their No. 299 overall prospect, TDN had this to say on Felton,
Demetric Felton aligned at running back and in the slot for UCLA’s spread offense. He is a very good athlete, as evidenced by his dynamic agility, change of direction, and body control. He’s been effective in the run game when used on the perimeter. He runs with the inclination to get outside and use elusiveness and wiggle In space. In the passing game, he is very good due to his effectiveness with the ball in his hands. He is competitive and willing in pass protection situations. He demonstrates good catching skills on screens and on check-downs. He is a good route-runner out of the backfield and linebackers have a difficult time covering him in space. He doesn’t have the prototypical size for the NFL. As a result, he will likely be a slot wide receiver or a “package guy” in the NFL.
He is tabbed as a “bottom of the roster slot receiver” and ranks outside their draftable grade range.
Pro Football Focus
The summation of PFF’s scouting report on Felton in its draft guide says a lot,
“Felton is a modern slot-running back hybrid who can create mismatches in the passing game.”
In giving the 5-8, 189-pound Bruin a fourth-round grade, PFF notes his “tremendous shiftiness” and calls him a “true passing game weapon”. Their negatives sure paint a picture of a running back who probably shouldn’t ever run the ball, however:
Still hesitant between the tackles. Not your bellcow from a carries standpoint.
Quicker than fast. Not a home-run hitter despite size.
Goes down too easily on contact. No power element.
Still haven’t seen a ton of him. Only 234 career carries.
The player comparison is Justin Forsett, an effective change-of-pace back with decent receiving skills who bubbled up to have one fantastic season in nine otherwise nondescript years.