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Tyjae Spears is a Dynamic Changeup | NFL DRAFT '23

Updated: Mar 27, 2023


By Adam Aniba


This year's draft class features some intriguing running back prospects with Bijan Robinson headlining the class. Although Robinson is the only back with a 1st round grade, game changers can also be found later in the draft.


A few backs are projected to be drafted on Day 2 and Day 3 with Tulane's Tyjae Spears being one of the most dynamic.


Spears opened eyes during the Senior Bowl with his ability as a pass catcher, in addition to his silky smooth route running. A few draft evaluators downgraded Spears based on his 4.47 second forty time during Tulane's pro day (some expected a sub 4.3 time), but his game tape should ease concerns for scouts.


Tyjae Spears

5'9" 204 lbs | RB | TUL

Draft Proj 4th Rd

Career (33 Games)- 427 rush att for 2,910 yds & 31 TDs (6.8 yds per rush)

*Receiving- 48 rec for 564 yds 3 TDs (11.8 per rec)

'22 Stats (14 Games)- 229 rush att for 1,581 yds & 19 TDs (6.9 yds per rush)

*Receiving- 22 rec for 256 yds 2 TDs (11.6 per rec)

Background

Spears grew up in Ponchatoula, LA attending Ponchatoula HS. The running back led his team to the 5A District 6 Championship with a 10-3 record and had 1,800 all purpose yards his senior season (800 rec yds & 920 rush yds).


As a 3-star recruit in '18, Spears committed to play for Tulane University for the 2019 season. During his freshman season, Spears rushed for 192 yards in a reserve role, in addition to 133 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns.


The following season, Spears rushed for 274 yards and averaged 7.4 yards per carry in the first three games before tearing his ACL in '20. Spears rebounded over the next two seasons, averaging over 6.0 yards per carry and displayed his ability as a reliable pass catcher.


Spears had an excellent '22 season in which he registered 1,837 all purpose yards with 21 total TDs and only 1 fumble lost. The Tulane back is extremely shifty and displays the ball security coveted by NFL teams.


Spears only had 2 kick returns during his time at Tulane, but profiles as a legit option to immediately contribute on special teams in the NFL.


PROS

  • Extremely shifty and understands how to avoid the big hit, effectively utilizes his low center of gravity

  • Clean route runner and gets in & out of his breaks with little wasted movement

  • Reliable pass catcher that's a threat to score in the open field

  • Offers the versatility to line up in the backfield, slot and on the outside

  • As a runner, has a knack for getting out of tight spots, which often times led to big runs

CONS

  • Pass protection needs refinement

  • Slight frame will hold him back from being a bell cow back early on

  • Ironically was used on 3rd down passing situations less than 60% of the time

  • Has the makeup of a high ceiling special teams returner, but only has 2 career kick returns

  • Guilty of concentration lapses on routine receptions

Outlook

Although Spears wasn't utilized more than a handful of times as a kick returner while at Tulane, he profiles as a year one plug & play returner. While he's getting his feet wet on special teams, getting Spears on the field as a changeup would give an offense a new dimension.


Ideally, utilizing Spears in multi-back packages early on, would be an excellent way to utilize his explosiveness as an overall weapon in the run and pass game.


*Games Watched- 9/24/22 vs S.MISS, 9/30 vs HOU, 10/15 S.FL, 11/5 vs TUL, 11/12 vs UCF, 11/25 vs UC, 12/3 vs UCF & 1/2 vs USC


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