2022 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Jerome Ford (Fantasy Football)

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The Cincinnati Bearcats were one of the best stories of the 2021 college football season. They went undefeated in the regular season and became the first team outside of the “Power Five” conferences to make the College Football Playoff. You probably already know about their quarterback Desmond Ridder, who’s due to be selected in the upcoming NFL draft. Another key piece to the Cincinnati offense was running back Jerome Ford. He had a massively productive season in 2021, but it took his collegiate career a while to get going.

Let’s take a deeper dive into Ford’s draft profile.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2022 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the UDK+ for 2022.

College Production

Year School Games Attempts Yards Yards/Att Rush TDs Rec Receiving Yards Yards/Rec Rec TDs
2018 Alabama 4 7 37 5.3 0 0 0 0
2019 Alabama 4 24 114 4.8 3 2 11 5.5 0
2020 Cincinnati 10 73 483 6.6 8 8 51 6.4 0
2021 Cincinnati 13 215 1319 6.1 19 21 220 10.5 1

Ford played his high school football in Florida, a hotbed of college recruiting. He was rated as a four-star recruit and ranked as the number six all-purpose back in the 2018 high school class by 247 Sports. He received plenty of big-time offers but decided to head to Tuscaloosa and play for powerhouse Alabama.

He wasn’t the only star recruit on the roster. The crowded Crimson Tide backfield included Josh Jacobs, Damien Harris, Najee Harris, and fellow 2022 draft prospect Brian Robinson Jr. Not to mention quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, who each had more rushing yards than Ford in 2018. After playing sparingly in just four games, Ford was given a redshirt for his first season.

Things began better for Ford in his sophomore season. He earned the starting role in the season debut against Duke, in which he rushed ten times for 64 yards and a touchdown. That was the peak of his season as Najee Harris quickly took over the backfield. Ford fell out of favor and finished as the fourth leading rusher on the team behind Harris, Brian Robinson, and Keilan Robinson. It was clearly time for a change of scenery.

Ford transferred to Cincinnati where he immediately formed a one-two punch with Gerrid Doaks in 2020. He finished third on the Bearcats in rushing behind Doaks and quarterback Desmond Ridder. Still, it was easily his most productive collegiate season as he led the team with an average of 6.6 yards/carry and found the endzone eight times.

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Ford was finally given the chance to lead a backfield in 2021, and he didn’t disappoint. He saw double-digit carries in 12 of 13 games, including three games with 20 carries. He averaged 6.1 yards/carry on a 215 carry workload and found the endzone 19 times, including three touchdown runs of 70+ yards.

Measurables

Height Weight 40-Yard Dash  Vertical Jump Broad Jump
5’11” 210 lbs 4.46 31” 118”

Ford weighed in at 210 pounds at the combine, ten pounds lighter than his listed playing weight in college. Given these measurements, his height, weight, and 40-time put him in the same class as Dalvin Cook, Miles Sanders, and Marlon Mack.

His 40-yard dash time clocked in at 4.46 seconds. Not as fast as Breece Hall or Kenneth Walker, but a respectable 12th out of the 28 running backs to get timed in Indy. Ford’s size and speed are not questions as he heads to the NFL.

What’s on Tape

Games Viewed: Alabama (2021), Indiana (2021), UCF (2021), Houston (2021), Tulane (2021), Navy (2021)

Ford doesn’t waste any time when the hole is there 

When the offensive line executes, Ford takes advantage. This may seem like an obvious and fundamental trait for a running back, but Ford excelled at it. He had numerous long touchdown runs where he would hit the hole and sprint untouched to the endzone. When there’s daylight, he runs to it.

He can get the tough yards

Ford doesn’t shy away from contact. He routinely fights for extra yards, especially when near the first down sticks and goal line. He consistently succeeded in short-yardage situations with continuous leg drive and forward momentum. Plays like this lead to earning a coach’s trust and high-value fantasy touches.

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His hands are unquestioned

Ford wasn’t used extensively in the passing game, but it wasn’t for a lack of skill. According to Pro Football Focus, he didn’t have a single dropped pass in his four years of college football. He caught a respectable 21 passes in his final collegiate season, and that number could have been higher. He was frequently open as an outlet when the primary reads weren’t, but quarterback Desmond Ridder regularly took off running instead of checking down to his running back.

What’s NOT on Tape

Individual playmaking ability

While Ford was explosive in open space, he rarely creates that space himself. There aren’t any highlight-reel jukes, spins, or stiff arms of note on tape. According to Pro Football Focus, Ford averaged just 3.07 yards after contact/attempt and generated only 0.24 missed forced tackles/attempt, ranking outside the top 60 collegiate running backs in both metrics last season.

Multi-dimensional usage

Ford is a traditional running back. He lines up in the backfield, gets plenty of straight-ahead handoffs, and is occasionally used in the passing game. He doesn’t shift or go into motion before the snap. He’s never seen split out wide or in the slot. Ford was good with his role, but it was very one-dimensional.

2022 Fantasy Outlook

Ford won’t be drafted in the first round. In fact, he’s most likely to be selected on day three. Grinding the Mocks gives him an expected draft position of 175 overall. While not ideal, that kind of draft capital isn’t a fantasy death knell for running backs. Just last season, we saw Elijah Mitchell take over the backfield in San Fransisco after being drafted number 194 overall. If he lands in the right situation, Ford could be a fantasy contributor by the end of the season. Of course, you can’t bet on that situation when it comes to your fantasy drafts in August. Ford is a player to keep an eye on this preseason and have on your waiver wire radar for redraft leagues. In dynasty leagues, he’s a perfect late-round dart throw that could hit if all the pieces fall into place like they did with Mitchell last season.

Comments

teamtimmypolk says:

Please update Dynasty Trade targets following NFL draft! Have not been updated for months, am not sure if values still are accurate.

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