There were 24 running backs invited to this year’s NFL Draft Combine. Indiana’s Stevie Scott was one of them.
Of course, due to the pandemic, there was no actual Combine this winter. The invitations were just a courtesy, a respectful nod to the players who might’ve been ticketed for Lucas Oil Stadium had the state of the world been just a little bit warmer and brighter. Even so, the invite was an appreciated gesture for players such as Scott, who is hoping his inclusion on the list of top prospects — along with his overall body of work at IU — bodes well for landing an NFL job in the coming days.
“Getting an invite to the Combine was like a dream come true for me,” Scott said earlier this spring.
The three-year All-Big Ten honoree hopes to realize another dream during this weekend’s NFL Draft, when he’s looking to become the third Indiana running back selected in the past six events. The two Hoosiers to get picked in that span, Tevin Coleman (2015 third round) and Jordan Howard (2016 fifth round), were products of running backs coach Deland McCullough’s tutelage during the assistant’s first stint at IU. And while McCullough did not recruit or work directly with Scott during the Syracuse native’s three years in Bloomington, the second-term IU running backs coach has seen plenty of Scott’s work while breaking down film of recent IU offenses.
To McCullough, who rejoined IU’s program in February after a two-year stint with the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s clear that Scott will soon be receiving an NFL shot, one way or another.
“That opportunity is going to be there whether he gets drafted or not,” McCullough said. “What I see is a draftable guy, but I don’t make those determinations. I think he worked out well. I think he had a better-than-solid career and he’s got some traits that will definitely cross over to the NFL level.”
Those are traits such as strength and patience, and power and poise. After setting IU true freshman records with 1,137 yards, 228 attempts, 10 touchdowns and six 100-yard games, Scott went on to finish fourth in program history with 30 rushing touchdowns, fifth with 32 total scores and ninth with 2,543 rushing yards. He’s also in elite company in the IU record books, joining Anthony Thompson and Antwaan Randle El as the only Hoosiers to tally at least 10 rushing touchdowns in three consecutive seasons.
As good as he was as a short-yardage back, Scott was also adept at shielding his quarterbacks — a trait that his coaches at IU lauded in each of his three seasons. Once viewed as a possible option at linebacker, Scott never shied from contact in his own backfield.
“Pass pro is something that I take great pride in, just because you have to be able to protect your quarterback and make sure your quarterback can be able to deliver the ball,” Scott said. “It’s something I focus on every offseason because I love to see my teammates do well and I know that if I could be back there and have my quarterback’s back and he can have full trust in me, then that’s what we can use to build our consistency and confidence in one another.”
The biggest knocks on Scott are his lack of high-end speed and burst, limiting his ceiling at the next level. He reportedly ran a 4.66-second 40-yard dash at IU’s Pro Day earlier this month, which would’ve ranked 26th among running backs at the 2020 Combine. NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein believes Scott’s running profile most likely means he’ll be a priority free agent once the draft concludes.
But no matter how the NFL opportunity comes, Scott is eager to seize it.
“(I’m) ready to take my talents to the next level and try to go to another organization and try to do the same thing that I feel like I did here with IU,” Scott said, “which is turn the program around, get it going in the right direction and possibly lead them to a championship or Super Bowl.”
Scott Draft Profile
Weight: 231 pounds
NFL.com assessment, per Lance Zierlein
Tremendous physique with muscles on muscles.
Freight-train finisher once he gains momentum.
Patient and powerful with above-average vision near goal line.
Drops pads and explodes through contact to put it in the paint.
Had 10 rushing touchdowns in each of his seasons at Indiana.
Surprising footwork when working in tight quarters.
Rarely runs with any panic.
Steers second-level defenders right into the block.
Pass protection should improve with more coaching.
Yards per carry dropped substantially in each of his last two seasons.
One-speed runner lacking functional, NFL-caliber burst.
Running style is plodding and devoid of creativity.
Unable to outpace defenders to the corner.
Missing lateral quickness to stack his moves.
Just five of his 30 touchdowns came on runs of more than 10 yards.
Unreliable pass catcher lacking awareness in space.