Andy Janovich, FB
Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 225 Age: 23
40-yard: 4.81 Bench: 30 (225 lbs)
The best part about drafting a fullback in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft is that you'll have your pick of the litter. With the fullback position being increasingly devalued with every passing year, tremendous all-around football players are falling all the way to day three of the draft. That's exactly what the Denver Broncos got when they selected Andy Janovich.
Rather than drone on about Janovich's toughness and old-school approach to the game, I'll share the thoughts of a Big Ten scout, per NFL.com.
"He's a dude! Loves to bang weights and hunt. My kind of guy. They didn't ask him to catch the ball much, but I think he can do it."
The title of "dude" just about sums up Janovich's attitude. He was called on to do a lot at Nebraska, and he did it all well.
First and foremost for any fullback is the ability to clear a path for the ball carrier. Janovich isn't necessarily big enough to pancake linebackers in the second level, but he routinely moves the defenders off of the mark by winning the leverage game and cutting guys low. Another small thing he does well is aim his blocks. Rather than take a guy head-on and give him the chance to disengage and make the tackle, Janovich will chip linebackers on their inside shoulder and give the back a wide lane to run through. Allow me to illustrate:
(5:00) Nebraska runs a simple hand off and Janovich is isolated against the box safety (Grayson Miller, 44). Janovich simply gets lower than Miller and directs his block right at his inside shoulder and away from the gap. Imani Cross runs for a first down. It's not a play that makes the highlight reel, but it's a consistent move and makes it nearly impossible for a defender to shed. Moving a guy off of his spot does the same thing as putting a guy on his back, and Janovich knows that.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1688594-mhh-premium-how-you-can-s...Blocking ability is what got Janovich off the board when he did, but he adds another dimension when he has the ball in his hands. On a fullback belly or a quick pass to the flat, he runs with surprising fluidity and picks up extra yards with a devastating shoulder charge. When he's running in space, Janovich almost looks like a rugby player weaving around various defenders on his way to scoring a hard-earned try. In 2015, Janovich carried the ball 42 times for a whopping 6.3 yards per clip and caught two passes for 58 yards. If you're keeping score at home, that's 7.3 yards every time he touches the ball. For reference, that's the same as Christian McCaffrey's career average from scrimmage. Not bad.
It's impossible to look at the way Janovich plays without thinking of Peyton Hillis' 2008 season. Much like Hillis, who led the way for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones at Arkansas, Janovich looks like a guy that would be just as comfortable carrying the ball (if injuries pressed him into action) as he is blocking for ball carriers.
What will ultimately separate Janovich in training camp and the preseason is the work he does on special teams, particularly kick coverage. He made 13 total tackles on special teams in 11 games, all with the same fervor with which he approached offense in college.
If you had to pick out something that Janovich lacks, it's his size. At 225 pounds, he isn't as big as other fullbacks that Gary Kubiak has employed like Vonta Leach. To be fair, that could be concerning against big hybrid end/linebackers like Tamba Hali or Khalil Mack. But with the reckless abandon that he plays with, Janovich's 225 pounds probably feels like two tons of pure avalanche.
Also, with just two catches last season, it's hard to judge how natural a pass-catcher he really is out of the backfield. The small sample size suggests ability, but the truth will be on display on many a Kubiak bootleg this season.
As a sixth-round pick and the only pure fullback on the roster, Janovich is almost a lock to make the roster. He'll compete with Juwan Thompson to start at the position, who has only taken a handful of snaps at fullback in his career. Thompson has the size and aggressiveness to challenge the rookie, but even if Janovich doesn't start immediately, he provides value as a special-teamer.
Everything Janovich has put on tape suggests that Denver got a steal in the sixth round. Regardless of position, you always want gamers on your roster that will happily run through a brick wall upon request.
Of course, Andy Janovich might actually be the brick wall.
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Will Keys is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @WillKeys6.