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Draft Darlings: Audric Estime is better than his testing shows

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By: Nate Christensen

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Hidden in this offseason is the Chiefs’ need to find a complementary running back to Isiah Pacheco.

The running back position is an underrated need for the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason.

With Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire being free agents, the Chiefs need to invest in the position. Not only do the Chiefs need more bodies in the running back room, but they also need a good candidate to complement Isiah Pacheco.

Pacheco has been valuable to the Chiefs, but he’s also partially responsible for the problems with the Chiefs’ run game last year. His physicality and speed are needed, but his lack of vision and agility can complicate Kansas City’s run schemes. They can’t get to certain runs — particularly outside zone runs — because Pacheco doesn’t have the vision to read zone plays consistently well.

It would make sense for the Chiefs to pursue a running back who is good at the outside zone runs as a complement to Pacheco. And, if they’re looking for that, Notre Dame’s Audric Estime makes sense.

Background

Estime was a four-star running back prospect from Montvale, New Jersey. Estime committed to Notre Dame, where he would play three seasons. Estime has been Notre Dame’s primary running back for two seasons, rushing for 2,247 yards on 365 carries (6.2 yards per carry) and 29 touchdowns.

Estime broke out the most in his junior year, posting 1,341 yards on 209 carries (6.4 yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns. Estime was a second-team All-American for USA Today, CBS Sports, Associated Press, and The Sporting News.

Estime didn’t have the best Scouting Combine performance, particularly in the 40-yard dash. His 10-yard split of 1.58 was adequate (53rd percentile), but his 4.71 40 time (10th percentile) was underwhelming for what I expected. Still, there were positives for Estime at the combine. He weighed in at 221 lbs. and was 5’11” — which backs up his size and physicality shown on tape.

While Estime didn’t run a great time, he still jumped 38″ in the vertical jump (86th percentile) with a 10’5 broad jump (87th percentile). While he might not have elite long speed, his explosiveness and short-area speed are outstanding.

Film evaluation

Estime’s primary run at Notre Dame was outside zone runs.

Notre Dame operated largely from the pistol because their quarterback Sam Hartman isn’t comfortable throwing from under center. They would run variations of the outside zone with different pin-pull concepts, but the main objective was to get Estime to the perimeter.

Estime excels at these runs. He’s not the most explosive player from the blocks, but once he gets some buildup speed, his speed between five and 25 yards is outstanding. While he might not have an elite fifth gear, his second-to-fourth gears are superb. With good blocking, he can use his long strides to build momentum. Estime is an explosive play waiting to happen at all times with his size and explosiveness.

Estime isn’t agile in making explosive jump cuts, but he does play with good agility. He has a quality change-of-pace for a bigger back, being able to decelerate to zero and letting defenders fly past him. Even for a bigger running back, he doesn’t struggle to regain speed. Estimes likes to bob and weave in multiple directions when a defender faces him one-on-one, creating extra yards in space.

Finally, his vision and size are outstanding. Estime can read zone blocks very well, displaying excellent patience to weave through gaps. When defensive linemen start working horizontally, Estime can read angles well, either using his speed to work horizontally or decelerating to zero to cut back. His size also allows him to finish runs in the red zone well, adding another dimension to his game.

How he fits with the Chiefs

Estime would be a great fit with Pacheco. Pacheco excels at one-gap runs where he doesn’t have to use vision and just work downhill, but Estime would allow the Chiefs to use more outside zone runs. He’s big enough to also do those power runs, so defenses wouldn’t be able to key in on that.

The Chiefs would still need a receiving back in their rotation, but between Estime and Pacheco, the Chiefs could access any run they need. Both running backs would also continue the theme of adding physicality to the running back room, which fits the Chiefs as they build a more physical offense.

The bottom line

Estime’s athletic profile might suggest my grade is too high for him, but when I sat down and watched his film, I came away loving it. Yes, he might not have the elite high-gear speed to create huge runs, but those runs rarely come in the NFL anyway. What I care more about with a running back’s speed is whether they can run perimeter runs and create between five and 25 yards, where Estime excels.

The Chiefs finding a complement to Pacheco to round out their run game is important. There are other running backs in this class that can run outside zone well, but few also provide the size element Estime has on top of the elite vision and patience.

He’s a rare player where his film doesn’t match his testing. Sometimes, that can be a bad thing, but in this case, I don’t worry about his long speed. He’s a very good football player, and I wouldn’t worry about that 40 time. Watch his film; Estime is fast on a football field.

Grade: Round 2

Originally posted on Arrowhead Pride