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NFL Draft Prospect Preview - Rodney Hammond Jr.

by J.T. Toth


Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics.


At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.


Today’s Spotlight - Pitt, Running Back, Rodney Hammond Jr.


Name- Rodney Hammond Jr.

Pos- Running Back

Team- Pitt

HT/WT- 5’9” 195 lbs.

Born- 9/20/2002

Home – Norfolk, VA


Coming out of Booker T. Washington High School in Virginia, Hammond Jr. was rated as one of the top 20 running backs in the nation by ESPN. As a junior, he ran for 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns while intercepting 6 passes as a defensive back. He selected the Panthers over several other Division 1 offers.


As a freshman for the Panthers, Rodney Hammond Jr. played in 12 games and ran for 504 yards on 102 carries and also scored 5 touchdowns. He also hauled in 8 receptions for 57 yards and 2 more scores.


Last season, Hammond Jr. missed 5 games after getting hurt in the season opener against West Virginia. He played in 8 games, starting 2 and was second on the team in rushing yards with 460 and scored 5 touchdowns. He was named the MVP of the Sun Bowl after rushing for 94 yards and scoring 2 touchdowns on 25 attempts.


In Rodney Hammond Jr.’s first game of 2023, he ran the ball 5 times for 25 yards and 2 touchdowns.


Hammond Jr. is a compact running back who has a lot of power in his 5’9” frame. He runs low to the ground with a good burst and is hard to wrap up. He breaks tackles and is always looking for contact. He’s the type of runner that excels at yards after contact and will run a player over if it means getting a first down or getting to the goal line. He is a handful in the open field and has breakaway speed to separate from defensive backs. Though he is on the smaller side, he will step up and block a bigger defensive player in pass protection. His blocking is not a strength but if he adds weight to his frame, he may become more efficient in this facet of his game.


Hammond Jr. lacks patience on some of his carries and prefers to bulldoze through the line instead of letting his offensive line make a block or two. This won't work well at the next level and he will need to learn to let the blocking schemes play out before hitting the hole. He has the ability to make you miss but at times, will try and run you over instead. Again, this may not go as well at the NFL level as it does in college ball. There are times when he loses concentration on swing passes and has his share of drops on film, though this can be rectified with him getting more opportunities (and practice) as a receiver out of the backfield. With his style of play and his smaller body size, injuries will always be a concern.


An NFL comparison to Hammond Jr. may be NFL legend Frank Gore. Hammond Jr. has a long way to go to be compared to a potential future Hall of Famer, but their running styles are strikingly similar. Though Gore played around 20 lbs. heavier than Hammond Jr., they both seek contact and excel at gaining yards afterward. Gore was injured coming out of Miami and was sort of an afterthought after being selected by the 49ers in the third round. As Gore’s career went on, he became a viable receiver out of the backfield and Draft 412 sees no reason why Hammond Jr. can’t do the same.



Strengths


  • Lower body strength

  • Compact build

  • Aggressive

  • Tough to tackle


Weaknesses


  • Size

  • Lacks patience

  • Pass receiving

  • Injury concerns



Final Analysis


Rodney Hammond Jr. does not have to enter the draft next season, but many runners recognize the shelf life of an NFL running back gets shorter and shorter each season. The more tread that’s off the tire from college playing time may limit his future earnings potential in the league. And in Hammond Jr.’s case, staying an extra year may or may not improve his draft stock appreciably enough to stay at Pitt for his senior campaign.


Draft 412 DRAFT PROJECTION - 4th or 5th round


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