Michigan State University Spartans
John Glenn High School
While Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley are the consensus favorites to earn first round status from the tailback draft class, the rest of the field is a bit crowded, with Langford, Ajayi, Tevin Coleman, Ameer Abdullah and Javorius Allen all vying to be the next back off the draft board. The Spartan ranks third in the Big Ten Conference with 22 touchdown runs this season, handling the ball 276 times for 1,522 yards (5.5 ypc) out of the backfield.
Since moving from the secondary to tailback, he’s gained 2,967 yards with 40 touchdowns on 577 carries (5.14 ypc). Langford seemed primed for a breakout career as a ball carrier, having excelled as a cornerback and wide receiver earlier in his career. As a junior, he “snuck up” on the league leaders, pacing MSU in rushing yards (1,422), carries (292), total touchdowns (19), rushing touchdowns (18), scoring (114 points) and all-purpose yards (1,579), as he rushed for more than 100 yards in a school-record eight-straight games.
He has that short, pitter-patter step style to slip through and avoid traffic, doing a great job of planting and redirecting on a dime. He is a very quick darter in space and has good success moving the chains, whether turning the corner or running between tackles.
Langford is faster than “Speedy Gonzalez” when turning the corner, where the lethargic defender gets to see him execute his second and third gears, mostly from a distance. He also attacks the inside creases with tremendous explosion, getting to top speed in a hurry and appears faster than his verified speed. He gets a solid jump and some of the best movement on the ball than any other runner in this draft crop.
Even though his timed speed is well above average, Langford displays game-breaking quickness and the ability to consistently make defenders miss in space. He has natural hands and while not used often in the passing game, he has efficient receiving skills, as he does a nice job elevating for jump balls and shows ease-of-movement getting his head turned around to pull the ball in without having to throttle down.
You can see the urgency he shows getting out of his stance and into the line, knowing that he has the crisp cutback agility and stop-&-go action that leaves defenders grabbing at air. He is an excellent athlete, with explosive quickness, agility, and balance. He shows above average strength attacking the holes and outstanding change of direction agility. In isolated coverage, he will generally win any foot race. He has swivel hips, rather than veer and weave.
Langford has good field instincts, vision and feel for the rush lanes. He’s almost had to “learn on the fly,” as the prep running back and safety was first utilized as a boundary cornerback, before switching to receiver and tailback, often making those changes late in fall camp or early in the team’s respective season schedules. His ability to grasp the playbook quickly made him a viable option for the coaches to insert on both sides of the ball.
Langford flashes superb quickness on the move. His explosion is his best asset, as he can quickly pick and slide through trash. Into the second level, he has the ability to get up to speed quickly, but when operating in tight quarters or near the pile, he can easily turn into a jitterbug type that stays low in his pads and executes very good forward body lean to generate additional yardage after the initial hit.
The MSU ball carrier has the vision needed to locate the rush lanes and clear the line of scrimmage and doesn’t need gear down in order to make things happen when executing the cutback. He quickly gains advantage over the defender. He can change gears and accelerate through the holes. Once he gets into the open, his hip swerve and burst gets him free from the defenders quickly.
A lethargic defender is soon grasping at air when Langford executes his stop-&-go motions, as he generates an explosive burst off his hard cuts and has that ability to accelerate around the edge, where he has become highly effective at out-running angles.
With his outstanding balance, quick feet loose hips and plant-&-drive agility, Langford has developed into a top-flight slippery open field runner. He is very conscious in protecting the ball closer to his body on the move, and he has above average run instincts, especially with his effectiveness trying to slide and dart through the crowd. His playing speed is “make you miss” type and he has that natural anticipation for rushing lanes, seeing creases and defenders to instinctively burst and elude.
For a player lacking great bulk, Langford has a lot of “Warrick Dunn” and “LeSean McCoy” in him, as he will lower his pads, sink his weight and square his shoulders to drive up the gut. He does a good job of planting and driving, showing the body lean to bounce off tackles and escape the crowd. It is rare to see him stop his feet on contact and he has that uncanny ability to jump-cut and power through the small creases.
When he accelerates, he uses his arms well to distribute the ball away from the oncoming tackler and uses his body to absorb the pigskin in attempts to prevent the costly fumbles. He has the valid speed to go the distance (see 2014 Michigan and Nebraska games), as he is very effective at maintaining his balance when bouncing wide to race down the side-lines. He moves well as an option running back, also, where he is able to capitalize on his quickness, along with demonstrating a quick plant for the cutback.
Langford gets a lot of space to pull away from the defender, thanks to his lateral slide and dart ability. He generates explosive acceleration out of his cuts and has the vision, quick change of direction agility and burst to consistently make the first defender miss. In the open field, he is much more than just a one-cut runner, but his speed does vary going long distances and he can be caught from behind on long runs.
Langford is never going to be a pile mover in the Le’Veon Bell mold, but he does have deceptive strength, mostly from his lower body. He can uncoil on contact and flashes that low pad level to navigate through traffic, but is best when he has space in order to be more effective. When he squares his shoulders, maintains balance and drives with his legs, he will break a fair share of tackles and with his body lean, as he does a very nice job of falling forward.
Langford has shown impressive durability and has never missed any game action due to an injury, but did enter the Spartans’ third game on the 2014 schedule vs. Eastern Michigan nursing a left ankle sprain that forced him to miss several series when he was hurt by Jacksonville State defenders delivering questionable late hits after several rushing piles in the season opener. "It got twisted up under the pile," Langford said, "but I don't know what happened." He was not fully healed in time for the 46-27 loss at Oregon a week later. "I wasn't all the way 100%, but I tried to do my best to work hard to get the yards that we needed," Langford said. "But I feel better now,” prior to the team getting ready to face Eastern Michigan. "I feel good going into this game," Langford said. "I feel healthy now. … Especially just practicing one time last week and then having the weekend off and getting to sit around and just relax and not do too much. I feel like I'm getting back up to speed."
4.42 in the 40-yard dash…1.55 10-yard dash…2.58 20-yard dash…4.32 20-yard shuttle… 11.73 60-yard shuttle…7.24 three-cone drill…34 ½-inch vertical jump…9’-10” broad jump… Bench pressed 225 pounds 21 times…31 ½-inch arm length…8 ¾-inch hands…75-inch wingspan.