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Ohio State Draft Profile: Master Teague has work ethic, versatility to find place in NFL

Master Teague’s career didn’t end on the note he was hoping, but that doesn’t mean the NFL won’t give him a call

Michigan State v Ohio State Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Each and every year Ohio State is one of the leaders in total players drafted to the NFL. In this series, I am going to be profiling the former Ohio State Buckeyes who have declared for the NFL Draft.

After battling through injuries during his last two seasons, Master Teague III’s career at Ohio State did not go the direction he planned. In his career, Teague showed solid vision and had a definitive one-cut style that made him an extremely productive player when given playing time. As the NFL draft approaches his value is in question, but the NFL will come calling for the experienced running back. After being snubbed from the combine, Teague still has a lot to prove before the draft next month.

Teague is a physical specimen whose background in bodybuilding gave him throwback size for the running back position. Despite his size, he never delivered on the bruising style many expected of him, and after the Achilles injury, he suffered he never got his explosiveness fully back. As the NFL takes a look at him, Teague’s size and athleticism give him great value outside of the running back position as well. Teague can be a dominant special team player and a solid change-of-pace back at the next level.

For Teague, he can answer some of these questions at Ohio State’s pro-day. The former Buckeye has all the intangibles teams look for, now it’s time to prove he can do the job at the next level.

Master Teague III Draft Round Projection: 6th-7th Round Pick


NFL Traits

Teague is a throwback type of running back, built out of 1990s lab of football players. His size and style are not the traits NFL teams are looking for in their number one running back. Where Teague adds value is his experience as a special team player and his ability to come in as a change of pace back. The NFL has become a league that relies on smaller more athletic personnel, this means having a bigger, more explosive type back should be a major priority. Teague has great vision, he has decent burst at the line of scrimmage, and his physical makeup gives him the ability to play as a modern-day fullback.

Burst

In his career, Teague ran for over 1,700 yards and had 17 total touchdowns, which is quite a bit of productivity. Despite never becoming the lead back for the Buckeyes, Teague established a role of consistent running and gaining positive yards.

At his size, he wasn’t the fastest running back on the field, but his burst allowed him to be a dangerous red zone weapon. Against Akron this past season, Teague put his explosiveness on full display. In the play, Teague is running a traditional “Inside Zone” and gets a running lane immediately. Once he hits the whole he shows the type of explosiveness that makes him an exciting prospect. After his Achilles injury, he never fully got back to his pre-injury self, but after a light workload last season he will be headed to the league relatively fresh.


Power

At Teague’s size, you would expect a bruising power back in today’s game, but he does leave a little to be desired in this regard. There were times Teague was incredibly hard to bring down, but all too often he wasn’t able to make the first man miss.

In this play we get to see what Teague is capable of, the Buckeyes are in the red zone, and in an obvious run situation. Ohio State runs a “Split-Zone” concept and Teague gets a wide open running lane. As he approaches the end zone this turns into a man-on-man physicality contest to get into the end zone. Teague shows his strength here and gains the two yards needed to make this play a touchdown. If Teague can consistently bring this pad level and physical intent to the next level, NFL teams will love having him as a red-zone weapon.


Pass Protection

You don’t get to the NFL as a late-round running back without being a serviceable pass protector. Even if you’re a change of pace back, you can become an every-down back in a split second. With the emphasis the NFL has placed on passing being a good pass-protection back has never been more important.

In the play below, Teague doesn’t do anything exceptional in pass protection, but it does show why he will be more than serviceable. Teague takes is pass-pro steps and gets nothing in his rush lane. This means moving over to help the next player, the tackle gets beat and Teague is able to keep the pocket clean. His block gives Justin Fields just enough time to pump fake and deliver a strike for a touchdown.


Scheme and Team Fits

Teague played in Ohio State’s basic zone run scheme, this was not really an offensive philosophy that played to his strength. In the NFL, they mix gap schemes into the run game equation much more which should allow Teague to utilize his strength of finding a crease and bursting up the field for a nice gain. At the next level, Teague will want to find a team with a committee style, and if not one that utilizes a lot of heavy personnel packages to help running backs with opening up running lanes.

Tennessee Titans (Round 6): Teague is by no means Derrick Henry who has consistently been in the top tier of running backs the previous four seasons. With Henry’s workload and his recent injury, bringing in a running back with a similar style and skill set would be beneficial. You’d lose a little power, but the one-cut style, as well as the sneaky burst, would allow for little change to the game plan.

Dallas Cowboys (Round 7): Jerry Jones loves his Buckeyes, and I think if he could take one player off looks alone Teague fits the profile. After former Buckeye Rod Smith left, there was a void in the room outside of Ezekiel Elliot at Tony Pollard. They were missing their full back/H-Back, with his size Teague is the perfect replacement on the roster to Rod Smith.

Houston Texans (Round 7 or UDFA): The Texans are in the middle of a complete roster overhaul and definitely need all the help they can get. With their late-round picks, their goal should be to bring in talented players, but more importantly players from strong cultures. Teague brings value to a position of need and has always brought the intangibles the Houston franchise is definitely in need of.


Player Comparison

Kenyan Drake (Las Vegas Raiders): Drake is another player from a blue blood program that was an era too late for the position. With similar questions coming into the NFL about his explosiveness and being too big, Drake has found some success as a change of pace back in the league. Despite not consistently being a number one back, he has been relatively successful everywhere he’s been.

Mike Davis (Atlanta Falcons): Davis took a while to find his footing in the league, but has established himself as a versatile runner for the Atlanta Falcons. Teague shares the same limitations, and Davis has laid out a blueprint to overcome the shortcomings. Both are physically gifted and physically imposing athletes, and Teague can become a serviceable back at the next level.


Scouting Takes

In the name of fairness, here are some other evaluations from “NFL Draft Experts”:

Kyle Crabbs (The Draft Network): “He’s shown explosive short-area burst in the past, although that did appear somewhat compromised in 2020 amid playing on the heels of a significant lower-body injury. Teague offers an angry running style, one that will challenge timid tacklers and allow him to tear through arm tackles without losing much momentum at all. Teague’s mileage from a body blow perspective is light.”

The NFL Draft Bible (Sports Illustrated): “Though he offers promising straight-line traits and has flashed in pass protection, Master Teague III is a very stiff back who struggles to consistently break tackles and make defenders miss; he is not a reliable pass-catching option.”

NFLDraftBuzz.com: “Loses momentum when he gears down to change direction and it takes him a few steps to accelerate back to full speed. Appears indecisive; will dance too much at the line of scrimmage. Lacks natural playmaking ability.”


Final Analysis

Master Teague III is not the most prolific prospect the Buckeyes have to offer, but he has shown that he brings enough juice to the game to make a difference. His weaknesses are there, but he has a tough physical runner. NFL teams value different running styles in their rooms and Teague brings an old-school style to the position. Despite not making any wow plays, he was solid and productive at Ohio State.

As he moves toward the draft process, proving to teams that he is a capable special teams player and a better athlete than perceived will be the two keys to ensuring he gets drafted, As a fringe potential draftee, Teague’s physical ability can separate him from players viewed in the same tier. He will need to improve as a pass-catcher, but if he can show he can be a reliable option in the run game, he will end up making a franchise very happy.

We may not hear Teague’s name get drafted, but the former Buckeye running back will find a home in the NFL.