How Does D'Onta Foreman Fit With the Houston Texans?
Today's NFL leaves very few opportunities for incoming "workhorse running backs."
When I say workhorse, I mean running backs who are able to accrue a sizable portion of the team's running back snaps, carries, and receptions.
At first glance, D'Onta Foreman may not seem like he has that potential in the NFL after being selected in the third round (89th overall) by the Houston Texans, but make no mistake about it, it'd be unwise to doubt Foreman's ceiling as he moves on to the next level of competition.
D'Onta Foreman: The Prospect
Foreman showed his workhorse potential last year, when he averaged nearly 30 carries a game en route to a 2,028-yard, 15-touchdown season.
|Year||Games||Rush Att||Rush Yds||Rush TDs||Rec||Rec Yds||Rec TDs|
I mentioned the term "workhorse" to include receiving work, but the offense at Texas didn't really provide a path for Foreman to showcase his skills there.
I'm not ready to declare that Foreman's a subpar receiver just because he wasn't given the opportunity to prove us otherwise. In fact, Foreman reportedly excelled in the pass-catching drills at his pro day, not dropping a single pass. ProFootballFocus also gave Foreman one of the best pass-blocking grades among this year's class.
According to PFF, Foreman also ranked fourth in the nation in forced missed tackles (64), but he had a terrible habit of turning the ball over (7 fumbles, 6 lost). Ball security should be one of his main concerted efforts to focus on while learning the Texans' playbook.
A stress fracture in his foot kept Foreman out of most drills at the NFL Combine. Outside of weighing in and taking measurements, he was only able to do the bench press, where he put up a rather disappointing 18 reps of 225 pounds. Fortunately for Foreman, he was able to show up in a big way at Texas' Pro Day.
The 6'0", 233-pound running back posted a 4.45-second 40-yard dash, 33-inch vertical, and 10-foot broad jump at the Longhorns' Pro Day. Those numbers, combined with his draft stock, (third round), provide a pretty set of comparables for Houston fans to get excited about, according to our database.
|2005||Ronnie Brown||Round 1, Pick 2||95.52%|
|2012||Bernard Pierce||Round 3, Pick 21||91.80%|
|2005||Carnell Williams||Round 1, Pick 5||91.33%|
|2002||Lamar Gordon||Round 3, Pick 19||90.45%|
|2010||Ryan Mathews||Round 1, Pick 12||90.28%|
|2014||Carlos Hyde||Round 2, Pick 25||90.19%|
|2014||Terrance West||Round 3, Pick 30||90.12%|
|2002||DeShaun Foster||Round 2, Pick 2||89.99%|
|2008||Matt Forte||Round 2, Pick 13||89.81%|
|2007||Marshawn Lynch||Round 1, Pick 12||89.14%|
It should be noted that Foreman's numbers were primarily used from his Pro Day here due to his injury, and that this won't provide as clear of a one-to-one comp as other players (Pro Day numbers are often better than the combine). That being said, there's still plenty of terrific players on this list that have gone on to have success in the league.
In the comps listed above, several of the players there went on to have NFL receiving success despite not having a ton of receptions in college.
Carlos Hyde's career-high at Ohio State was just 16 receptions. He's coming off a 27-reception season in which he only played 13 games. Ryan Mathews had a career-high of just 11 receptions at Cal. He had a 50-reception season his second year in the league.
Just because a player wasn't asked to do something in college, doesn't necessarily mean he's incapable of doing it.
D'Onta Foreman: The Houston Texan
Joining a Texans' backfield spearheaded by Lamar Miller, Foreman will have some tough competition for touches to start his career. Miller is in the second year of his four-year, $26 million contract and coming off a 268-carry, 1,073 -yard season where he scored 5 rushing touchdowns.
Head coach Bill O'Brien has mentioned a desire to keep Miller fresh next year. "I think [Miller] probably carried it a little bit too much early on," O'Brien said during the NFL combine. "We feel like we have a pretty diverse group of running backs so I think in order to get him at his best in January, we probably need to cut down on that early in the year."
O'Brien looks to have found his solution in Foreman. Under O'Brien, the Texans have formed a heavy run-play offense that finished top-12 in run play percentage for three straight seasons.
The addition of Foreman will likely lower the touchdown ceiling of Miller. Miller has missed three games over the past four years, showcasing durability, and should continue to keep Foreman at bay from seeing a sizable percentage of the touches early in his career.
That being said, Foreman has a terrific opportunity to come in for valuable red zone looks when the Texans are able to get inside their opponent's 20-yard line. Houston tied for the fourth-fewest red zone trips per game last year (2.8), but that has a decent chance to improve with Deshaun Watson coming to town.
Even if the Texans get a marginal increase in red zone opportunities with Watson under center, they should utilize Foreman almost exclusively when they get there.
Last year, Houston ranked 31st in red zone touchdown percentage (44.0 percent), with Miller scoring all 5 of his rushing touchdowns from within the five-yard line last year. Whether it was play poor calling or just variance, the Texans need to be able to score from farther out. Foreman can bring that right away after scoring touchdowns from all over the field at Texas (1, 1, 2, 4, 4, 9, 18, 19, 22, 22, 37, 38, 47, 62, and a 74-yard touchdown).
For dynasty fantasy football players, Foreman will be going to a team with a solid offensive line and one of the best defensive units in the league. There should be plenty of rushing opportunities for Houston (and Foreman) moving forward under a run-heavy head coach.
I'd be comfortable spending as early as the 2.01 in typical 12-team rookie drafts and riding out the remaining inefficient days of Miller. Foreman is just a Miller injury away from significant playing time, and given the draft capital Houston spent to acquire him, he makes for a terrific late-round stash in redraft leagues as well.
For now, Houston fans can be excited for the "Big Playmaker" and what he brings to their team.