After missing the past two and a half games, Dedrick Mills made his return to the Nebraska offense against Purdue. Mills may have only had 16 carries for 60 total yards, but the senior running back was able to give the offense a much needed boost that they have lacked while he was gone. In this week’s Scouting Perspective Article I take a look at the senior running back and what his NFL future may be.
What Went Well
A big part of the Huskers success rushing the ball was attributed to the offensive line that often gave Mills, Robinson and Martinez open holes and reset the line of scrimmage throughout the game. But that doesn’t mean that Mills had it easy and throughout the game showed the ability to find the hole and use his burst to get to the second level.
Mills is at his best when he is able to put a foot down and make a hard cut to get upfield. Early in the first quarter Mills was able to show that off as he moved laterally to his right before making that hard cut and bursting forward for a six yard gain. Even in the second quarter Mills was able to attack at the line and then make a hard cut through the hole generating power to run through a couple of arm tackles for a ten yard gain.
What was also impressive about Mills in this game was his vision. In the third quarter Mills had two great runs where he was able to see the blocks developing and use his quickness to exploit the opening. The first run saw Mills cut back but read Austin Allen coming across the formation to seal off the edge defender and was able to cut up into the crease and then lower his shoulder for a nine yard gain.
But my favorite run of the day was late in the fourth quarter and Mills got the ball heading right and saw a free defender on the edge. Mills pushed like he was going to try and bounce it outside but quickly put a foot down and burst inside, freezing the defender and making him have to dive to try and make a shoestring tackle.
I don’t want to say there isn’t a chance that Dedrick Mills gets drafted, but it’s going to be an uphill battle. Devine Ozigbo was more of an all around back and he went undrafted. That doesn’t mean that Mills can’t have success in the NFL as we’ve seen undrafted running backs shine if they go to the right system.
For Mills that right system is a heavy zone blocking scheme because it will allow Mills to be that one cut runner who can see the hole fast and make his move. What can hold Mills back is he isn’t a great route runner and has average hands. So it all depends on fit and finding a team that could use a solid between the tackles back.