In a Yale career that was abbreviated by his transfer from the University of Western Ontario following his freshman year and an injury-riddled season a year ago, Tyler Varga has nonetheless produced whenever he has suited up. A typical Yale football player has the opportunity to play 40 games over the course of his career. Varga has only played in 24, yet his 2,985 rushing yards — good for a spectacular 124.38 per game — are fourth-best in Yale’s storied history.
Varga’s eye-popping numbers, along with his unique brand of athleticism, has turned him into a top professional prospect. He is currently ranked the second-best overall prospect for the 2015 Canadian Football League draft, an avenue he might pursue should an opportunity in the NFL not present itself. But, after his senior year and his performance at the Senior Bowl, the prospect of playing on Sundays in the NFL could become a reality.
Still, Varga will need to register clean medical exams for the teams at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine and by team doctors in private examinations. The most devastating of athletic injuries often cause the victims to lose the ability to ever play that sport again. In Varga’s case, he nearly lost a foot. The concerns still linger over his torn peroneal tendon, a muscle connecting the calf to the foot.
Doctors soon began to worry his foot might be in jeopardy, as compartment syndrome dangerously restricted the blood flow in his lower leg. Undeterred, Varga plowed through the injury. Still, the foot problems again hampered him in 2013, causing him to miss four games.
Varga is a productive north-south runner who has excellent power and agility. He is quite nimble for a player of his size, showing fluid change of direction skills as a runner, and shows good arm extension going for the ball as a pass catcher. He has above average quickness and very good feet and balance for his position. He has that sudden burst going up the middle, very good leg strength and natural acceleration past the line of scrimmage.
His balance allows him to keep his feet after initial contact and his leg drive sees him consistently push past the pile and make up field cuts that will generally see the tackler miss. He demonstrates the ability to quickly gain advantage into the crease, showing the suddenness to make the initial tackler miss. He has the pad level to stay square through his runs and shows a fluid step on his lateral movement.
One of the things that set Varga apart from other big backs is his ability to stay low in his pads, which allows him to generate leg drive needed to run through small seams. For a player of his size, Varga is very elusive taking the ball between the tackles. He is a fluid strider who can accelerate to the second level. He has that pull away burst and top-end speed needed to beat the slower linebackers when operating in space.
Varga is quicker than he is fast, but he shows good acceleration getting to the outside. He might not try to wiggle and shake off a defender, but with his balance and body control, he can make the sharp cuts, showing the vision to spot the cutback lanes without having to throttle down or gather. He is a load to bring down one-on-one and has that body lean that allows him to get good movement after the initial hit. He is a powerful runner inside, who has the ability to carry tacklers on his back for additional yardage.
The Yale Bulldog has good field vision and is stronger than his frame indicates. He shows good intent and aggression when making contact and will face up and take defenders on, but needs to do a better job of staying on his blocks when leading through the hole and attempting to widen the rush lanes. He is more efficient when anchoring in order to sustain in pass protection. He shows good hip snap as a blocker, and in 2014, he greatly improved his hand jolt in attempts to push the linebackers out of the lanes more.
Tyler Varga Scouting Combine measurables
30 3/8-inch arm length
10 5/8-inch hands
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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