Demetric Felton’s Scouting Report would not be complete without first discussing the curious state of the UCLA football program. The UCLA Bruins have not had a winning season since 2015. Over the last five years, they have compiled a record of 20-36. However, the Bruins took some steps in the right direction during this most recent season under Chip Kelly. Offensively, much of the success the Bruins sustained this past year came through the running game. The Bruins were led by the two-headed monster of Demetric Felton and Brittain Brown in the backfield. Felton was the workhorse for UCLA and his monster season was responsible for the surge in his draft stock over the last few months.
UCLA finished second in the PAC-12 behind only Oregon State in rushing yards. Felton saw the majority of the carries for UCLA and he capitalized on those opportunities by being the fourth-leading rusher in the PAC-12 last year. Over the season, Felton averaged 111.3 rushing yards per game, scored five touchdowns on the ground, had 159 receiving yards, and scored three touchdowns in the passing game.
During his junior and senior seasons at UCLA, Felton had an uncanny ability to make defenders miss in space. Felton was clocked running a 4.55 40-yard dash at UCLA’s recent Pro Day. He’s not the fastest player on the field, but some guys just know how to work angles and wiggle through traffic. However, Felton turned in a vertical of 31.5 inches and a broad jump of 9’6″. Those numbers aren’t exactly earth-shattering for a running back or potential slot receiver.
Don’t let that fool you, though. Demetric Felton is special with the football in his hands. He also has great body control at the point of contact as well as when he makes cuts. Plenty of guys have straight-line speed, ridiculous verticals, and awesome three-cone drill times. However, when the lights are on they struggle to shake soccer moms driving around Toyota Sienna’s in the local Safeway parking lot. Give me Felton all day long.
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Demetric Felton’s most alluring talent at the next level is his ability as a natural pass catcher. Over his final two seasons at UCLA Felton caught 77 balls for 753 yards and seven touchdowns. Felton is an above-average route runner, has solid hands, and linebackers in the NFL will have a very difficult time covering him in space. As a Bruin, Felton was awesome both in the screen game and as a check-down. At the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Felton was running routes with the wide receivers and he performed very well. It will be interesting to see if Felton ultimately makes the switch to wideout at the next level.
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Underrated Running Back
The fact of the matter is that Felton will never be a first and second down back in the NFL. He stands 5’10”, and 200 pounds. However, I think he’s a guy that you can work in as a third down back. A team can give him anywhere from four to seven touches a game and he has the potential to make some plays. Granted, a lot of the run calls for Felton will likely be out of the shotgun and to the outside towards the numbers of the field.
However, I’m not buying the argument that he can only play slot receiver and run outside. At UCLA, Felton showed toughness as a runner, stayed up after first contact, and just flat out had instincts with the ball in his hands. Felton is versatile and whichever team drafts him would be wise to use him in a number of different ways. Don’t limit him from the get-go and immediately transition him to a wide receiver. See what you have in him as a third-down back before going that route.
Lacking Prototypical Size
As mentioned above, Felton stands just 5’10”, and 200 pounds. If he had blazing speed this maybe wouldn’t be so much of a concern. However, he does make up for some of that with his wiggle and agility. Nonetheless, NFL teams will be concerned about Felton’s size and how it will translate to playing running back at the next level. It’s also worth noting that Felton will no longer be going against the well documented weak defenses in the PAC-12.
The size and speed at the next level is going to be very different and there are legitimate question marks about whether Felton will be able to hang at his current position. While NFL front offices and scouts might consider Felton’s size a negative I would deem it more of a question mark. If nothing else, he will have the ability to transition to slot receiver and make an impact exclusively in the passing game.
Finishing Catches Through Contact
There were times at UCLA where Felton struggled to retain catches at the point of contact. Whether he remains a 3rd down back at the next level or ultimately does become a slot receiver, this is something he will need to work on. A big part of this is just developing his instincts as a pass catcher. Felton is already fluid in his motions as a receiver, so it should just take repetition and putting in the work. Numerous sources that cite this similar issue.
Demetric Felton was a running back at UCLA. He just happened to be a great receiver out of the backfield too. While he did work on running routes and catching passes as a back in college, he never exclusively focused on developing the skills that a receiver does. It’s important to note this, especially for a player that might be making a position change at the next level.
Demetric Felton’s versatility is certainly intriguing. His ability as a playmaker is something that is coveted by NFL team’s. Will he be a slot receiver? A third-down back? A gadget guy? Only time will tell. However, you don’t pass up on guys in the draft that can be difference makers for your team because you aren’t immediately sure where you’re going to put them on the field. That’s what Felton has the potential to be — a difference maker. Expect Felton to be off the board some time in rounds three or four of the draft. Felton makes a lot of sense for teams that run a wide-zone scheme. Keep your eyes peeled for when San Francisco, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta are selecting in those rounds.