In the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens selected Harvard fullback/tight end Kyle Juszczyk.
Playing in the Ivy League, Juszczyk was a rather unknown commodity while in college, but when he arrived to the Senior Bowl in January, he immediately became the top fullback in this year’s draft after displaying his impressive, versatile set of skills.
He’s technically a fullback, but that’s as far from his job description as can be. He’s the traditional offensive weapon. No, not in the terms of Tavon Austin or Percy Harvin, but with respect to the fact that he can line up at numerous spots along the offense and have success at each position.
Eventually, he figures to be the heir to Vonta Leach at fullback. But, when he takes on Leach’s role, he won’t be purely a blocker in the mold of Leach. Instead, he’ll be used as both a tight end and slot receiver to complement his fullback role.
He won’t struggle to find playing time while Leach is still a Raven, as offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell has endless ways to use Juszczyk and his skills will translate quickly to the NFL.
Let’s take a look at where Juszczyk can play and how versatile (and good) he really is.
First, let’s look back at 2011.
In a matchup against Yale, Juszczyk is lined up in the slot.
He runs about eight yards downfield before turning to catch a pass with a defender on him.
He easily catches the ball, and then uses his quick movement to turn to his right, begin to run upfield and quickly outruns the Yale secondary for a touchdown.
Now let’s move on to a 2012 game against Princeton, when Juszczyk’s versatility was fully on display.
Here, he is lined up as a tight end off the line, and after the snap, he pulls to the left.
After pulling to the left side, Juszczyk turns upfield to open up a hole and block for his running back. He engages with his defender and easily latches on.
He uses his strength to pancake the defender into the ground, allowing the running back to easily run by.
The play is a model presentation of Juszczyk’s ability to pull to the side, engage with his defender and open up a hole for the ball carrier.
In the same game, he was once again lined up in the slot.
He runs a short down and out, catches the pass, and quickly shifts his momentum so that he turns back toward the middle of the field.
He’s noticeably shifting his weight back toward his right, which allows him to gain more yards after the catch instead of either getting tackled or running out of bounds.
He turns back upfield and is able to gain about 10 extra yards after the catch.
Here’s another play from the Princeton game in which Juszczyk displays his blocking ability.
He’s lined up behind the line, but in front of the quarterback and running back.
The quarterback decides to take off running, which leads to Juszczyk pulling to the right side and turning upfield to block for the ball carrier.
He finds a defender, engages with him and allows his quarterback to break through and take off for a considerable gain.
The play by Juszczyk is one of his best blocking displays, as he shows his ability to pull, turn upfield, find a defender and engage.
His athleticism allows him to easily get upfield as a lead blocker. He also has the capability of being on the other end of the play, as a ball carrier instead of a blocker. He won’t be utilized much as a rushing option out of the backfield, but his catching ability will lead to success.
He has an innate ability to turn upfield immediately after the catch. If he can do the same in the NFL, he will be much more of a tight end than a fullback, as his receiving ability will bring an added dimension to the Ravens offense.