In the first 14 games of 2011, Evan Royster barely saw the field, playing only 41 snaps. In the last two, Royster had a couple of very impressive performances:
Keep in mind that both the Vikings and Eagles had absolutely nothing to play for in Weeks 16 and 17, respectively, not to mention the Eagles were the 2nd worst tackling team in the NFL in 2011, according to PFF. Also, Royster was fresh, whereas the defenses he was facing had a full season under their belts. Still, I wanted to take a look at him on film, and I really liked what I saw. PFF had him down for 8 broken tackles in those two games. There is no way that is accurate, as I saw far more. What I see is a very tough runner that is deceptively fast, with good cutback ability and the knack for consistently getting yards after contact.
First, a couple plays from the Vikings game:
Here, he has already made a cut at the LOS, and is into the second level with a head of steam. The two safeties, Jamarca Sanford (33) and Mistral Raymond (41), are closing in.
First contact is made by Sanford at about the 39 yard line:
Royster blasts right through both defenders. Five yards later, Sanford is left trying to grab whatever he can (red arrow: he gets Royster’s hand warmer) as Royster chugs by, while Raymond is somehow left grabbing onto his own teammate.
Three more yards later, Raymond has fallen off the truck, and Sanford, clinging to Royster’s hand warmer, is comically being dragged along like Niedermayer being dragged by the horse in Animal House. Linebacker E.J. Henderson (56) also now has him in a bear hug:
Four more yards later, Sanford is STILL hanging onto Royster’s hand warmer and being drug along for the ride, along with Henderson.
After all that effort, Sanford has finally fallen off, and his teammates finally stop Royster’s progress at about the Viking 47.
Royster carried defenders for 14 yards.
Now, let’s take a look at a true star player trying to tackle Royster, 6x Pro Bowler and 5x All Pro DT Kevin Williams. Here’s Williams (93) with a chance to get Royster down at the LOS:
Williams gets both arms on Royster:
But arm tackles aren’t going to get it done, even if you’re Kevin Williams, as Royster blasts through the line for an 11 yard gain:
It was more of the same against the Eagles. Just a bunch of broken tackles, and hard, physical running. A very short sampling:
It’s kind of crazy that Evan Royster is Penn State’s all-time leader rusher, and he was drafted in the 6th round. Paired with the shifty, speedy Roy Helu, the Redskins may have a nice 1-2 punch at RB on their hands. I started to try to think of comparable RB duos to Helu and Royster, and I considered Julius Jones and Marion Barber back in the days when the Cowboys were a SB threat. I think Helu and Royster can actually be better. I also began to think of them as sort of a poor man’s version of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, but that’s a pretty unfair comparison. I think we’ll just have to wait and see how Mike Shanahan deploys his RB duo, but those two can be a potent tandem.