Jay Ajayi Player Evaluation

Scout's Dave-Te Thomas breaks down Boise State running back Jay Ajayi.

The 2014 season will be a year to remember for Jay Ajayi, as he ranked second in the nation with 32 total touchdowns, 28 scoring runs and 347 attempts, piling up 1,823 yards on the ground while snatching 50 passes for 535 yards. He is a creative open field runner with that sudden burst of speed that allows him to immediately gain advantage through the rush lanes. He is an elusive cutback runner with precise plant-&-drive agility. He has the body control and lower body flexibility to stop and go with no wasted motion and is effective at utilizing head fakes and his hip wiggle to set up the opponent.

Ajayi’s hip-shake and wiggle lets him change direction in an instant to run through the cutback lanes. He can cut on a dime and reach the corner, as he has the speed to go the distance. He explodes out of his stance through the rush lanes and is very decisive attacking the holes. He has the loose hips and wiggles to make the initial tackler miss and stays low in his pads to burst through the pile. He gets to top acceleration in an instant and has crisp moves in and out of his cuts.

The Bronco’s suddenness lets him gain instant advantage, even when he doesn’t have the luxury of open lanes in front of him. He will not hesitate to take the ball up the gut, but because of some size limitations, he has to rely on his line to create space for him. He is the type of player that needs room to run and can get bottled up inside, where his leg drive is only adequate. He is good at picking, sliding and accelerating through the holes, but he is not the type that will run through and punish tacklers.

Ajayi will run the ball hard up the gut, but unless he redirects or bounces wide, he is not the type that can break many tackles taking the ball up the middle. He has good weight room strength, but needs room to operate and seems to get too narrow with his base when having to power through arm tackles. He just lacks the leg drive to break those tackles, making him only adequate to gain additional yardage upon contact. He is just not the type that can punish defenders.

Ajayi has good change of direction agility and the vision to locate and settle into the soft areas. He is best used on controlled routes, but has the speed to line wide. He is quick to uncover and has the anticipation skills to work back to the ball. Still, his experience is mostly on dump-offs and screens. He is an explosive runner once he gets to the ball.

The junior is very deceptive varying his speeds to break free along the perimeter. He has the burst to outrun defenders when working in space and most of his long runs have been the result of his explosive second gear. Fumbling has never been an issue, as Ajayi works hard to maintain proper ball security. He protects the ball well by keeping it close to his body, usually carrying it away from the defender. He has good functional arm strength and does a good job of covering up on contact.

NFL Scouting Combine measurables

6-0/221 (4.57 forty)
32-inch arm length
10-inch hands
19 reps
39-inch vertical jump
121-inch broad jump
7.10 3 cone drill
4.10 20 yard shuttle
11.10 60 yard shuttle

Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.


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