Draft Review: Jamaal Charles
Kansas City's all-time leading rusher is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time
GOSSELIN DRAFT ANALYSIS: Jamaal Charles was a legend before he ever arrived on campus at the University of Texas. He earned Parade All-America acclaim at Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial High School after breaking the city rushing record held by Joe Washington for more than 30 years. Charles rushed for 2,000 yards in each of his last two seasons. He also was a member of the stchool’s 4×200 relay team as a sophomore that set a national prep record, then won state titles in both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles as a senior. He scored 11 touchdowns as a freshman at Texas, won a national title as a sophomore and earned All-Big 12 honors as a junior with 1,619 yards and 18 touchdowns. His best game was a 33-carry, 290-yard effort against Nebraska with touchdown runs of 80, 40 and 25 yards. He also was the Big 12 100-meter dash champion and earned track All-America honors. Charles elected to skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft in 2008. He measured 5-11, 200 pounds at the NFL combine and clocked a 4.41 40-yard dash. Gosselin rated him as the fifth best running back in the draft and placed him at No. 30 in his Top 100 board. The Kansas City Chiefs drafted Charles in the third round with the 73rd overall selection.
Here’s what 15 NFL talent evaluators said about Charles leading up to his draft:
Scout: Quick with a great burst. The only problem is his size with that slender build, slender legs. But I’d like to have him. When he hits that hole with daylight, he’s gone before the linebackers and defensive backs have a time to react. He’s a late 1, high 2.
Scout II: Third-round, a specialty-type back. Tremendous feet and good hands but not an every-down, pounding-type back. He’s not a physical runner between the tackles so durability will be an issue. Let him bounce outside with his speed. He’s not a complete back, more of a complementary back.
Scout III: Legit speed and quickness but has a history of fumbles – double digits in his career.
Scout IV: Good kid. Ideally he’s your second back. They tell him not to change hands in the open field because fumbling is such an issue.
Personnel director: Late 1, fifth-best RB.
Personnel director: One of the Top 2 backs in this draft.
Offensive coordinator: A much better inside runner than (Felix) Jones and he can still take it to the house. All they run (at Texas) is the belly and he’ll make you miss.
Offensive coordinator II: All his productivity is based on his speed and quickness, not his running ability. Plays smaller than Felix Jones. He’s a willing blocker, which shows me his toughness. Watch the Nebraska film. He’s got nothing going on until the fourth quarter and then he busts a couple 80-yard runs (216 yards in the fourth quarter).
Offensive coordinator III: His 6 reps on the bench press (at the combine) bother me. He should have stayed in school. Made an unbelievable Eric Dickerson-type run against Nebraska.
Head coach: Love him.
General manager: Lacks size and a fumbler, plays like he weighs 175.
General manager II: Late 2, question his toughness. Typical Texas back.
General manager III: Fifth-best RB. His fumbles are a correctable issue.
General manager IV: Not a fan – 1) Texas guy, 2) track guy, 3) fumbler.
General manager V: Second round. Question his durability. But what he does well he does really well.
HALL OF FAME RESUME: Charles spent his rookie NFL season on the bench behind veteran Pro Bowler Larry Johnson. But he took over the starting position in his second year in 2009 and rushed for the first of his five 1,000-yard seasons over the next six years. The only time he missed was 2011 when a knee injury in the second game ended his season. Charles rushed for a 1,500-yard season in 2012, a 1,400-yard season in 2010 and a 1,200-yard season in 2013. He also led the NFL with 12 rushing touchdowns that season. Charles went to four Pro Bowls and twice was a first-team all-pro. He averaged 5.4 yards per career carry with touchdown runs of 91, 80, 76, 63 and 46 yards. Charles spent his first nine seasons with Kansas City, then closed his career with a season at both Denver and Jacksonville. He left Kansas City as the franchise’s all-time leading rusher with 7,260 yards. Charles is in his first year of eligibility for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Rick Gosselin spent 20 years as the NFL columnist for the Dallas Morning News, including 20 offseasons studying and researching prospects for the NFL draft. He didn’t watch any tape – he was a writer, not a scout – but he talked to the men who did watch tape. He built a network of NFL general managers, head coaches, personnel directors, scouts and assistant coaches from all 32 teams who would share with him their analyses of players. Gosselin used their insights to build his own draft board, Top 100 board and mock drafts. For 10 consecutive years he had the best Top 100 board in the country (2001-10), according to the Huddle Report, and three times he produced the best mock draft.