An impressive, highly durable running back with the durability to carry a heavy load upon his back, has done nothing but impress for the Wolfpack when scouting him this season ahead of April’s 2017 NFL Draft.
Largely underrated entering this his senior campaign, his performances for a resurgent ACC force have been a fundamental piece in the jigsaw of Dave Doeren’s success.
A diminutive player for the position, standing at 5’9″, who plays the game anything but, aided by a muscular upper body and lower torso power, who runs with outstanding leverage, keeping his pads low at all times when initiating contact. His pad level and associated low centre of gravity is utilised expertly by the senior, allowing him to get beneath would-be tacklers at the line of scrimmage and his strong build making him a tough proposition to wrap up, consistently falling forward and keeping his legs chugging to gain additional yardage.
In fact his prowess in this area has resulted in a staggering 47% of his total career yardage coming post contact. This past season, Dayes amassed a hugely impressive 1,166 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground, having cemented his place as the sole ball carrier out of the backfield for the Wolfpack, despite opposing teams preparing for him.
Most striking is his attacking mentality once the ball is handed off to him, not losing a step and actively seeking contact, taking the game straight to the opposition, rarely wasting a step nor bouncing around or avoiding the defence by heading outside. However, Dayes is not just a ‘banger’ up the middle, he consistently demonstrates his heady, intelligent vision for the position, attacking the hole intelligently with force and much quickness out of his signature one-cut style, running over any initial contact that comes his way, with a refusal to go to ground, even though his opponents know what is coming, as we saw in both the victory over Notre Dame and the oh so painful overtime defeat on the road against the eventual national champions in Death Valley, that should have resulted in the win his team sorely deserved.
The temptation within the NFL’s corridors of power, is to all too often shoehorn running backs into defined characteristics; scat-back, workhorse, change of pace etc. However, the Fort Lauderdale, FL. native ticks all of the boxes as a dynamic, multi faceted talent. While I have no concerns whatsoever about his ability to sustain a heavily workload, Dayes stands out thanks to his impressive ability out of the backfield both in the passing game and in the slot as an intermediate receiving option, catching the ball with his dependable hands and cutting in an instant, running after the catch in his physical, heady manner as if he had the ball has been handed off to him. He additionally catches the eye with his consistently excellent pass protection ability, utilising his low centre of gravity, strong anchor and upper body strength to jolt pass rushers on the blind side before they can turn the corner.
Dayes certainly made the most of every moment of his final season in Raleigh, NC. excelling on the national stage as the Wolfpack enjoyed greater televised attention, resulting in NFL scouts re–evaluating their conclusions of him. His all-around ability will be highly attractive as a true three-down back, who will not need to come off the field at the next level.
You can safely add the ACC standout to what was already an unbelievably deep running back class. I have him at this stage as a round 2-4 prospect, something of a sleeper who will be a steal on the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft, starting on Thursday April 27th.
Credit: Pack Insider/packinsider.com
If you enjoyed this you can read our scouting reports on all the eligible draft prospects in the 2017 edition of our NFL Draft Guide, available here from the 1st April (All proceeds are donated to Muscular Dystrophy UK) (£5).