When people think Mike Leach’s Air Raid, they don’t normally think of running backs. The first impression of the offense would lead you to believe that it’s the quarterback and receivers who get most of the glory with the running backs are left to pick up the scraps. The first part of that statement is true but the second couldn’t be further from it.
Running backs have accounted for most of the offensive touches in the offense in the last three years for the Washington State Cougars thanks, in large part, to the presence of Jamal Morrow. The Southern California native topped 1,000 total yards each of the last two seasons, putting his versatility through the air and on the ground on display.
So what are his chances of being taken in the NFL Draft? Probably not great. But that aforementioned versatility could help him make it in the NFL.
What we like
Versatility: Yes, I’m using the word again because I’ve misplaced my thesaurus. Morrow’s rushing and receiving numbers last year were damn near identical and came on 146 total touches. The senior got involved in the offense and got involved often.
Morrow could break big runs out of the backfield (as he did near the end of the game against USC) and can also go for long yardage on passes coming out of the backfield (like he did against USC for the final WSU touchdown ... remember that game? When they beat them? It was neat!). Morrow also has good hands while he’s actually out in the slot as a receiver and WSU is running five wide.
Elusiveness: Morrow is a very, very hard guy to bring down while he’s in the open field. He’s adept at avoiding tackles and finding open lanes to fit through to pick up extra yardage. For a smaller guy, he has also been known to truck a defender or two so sometimes merely being in his way isn’t good enough either.
Love of cheeseburgers: College aged me didn’t have the palate he has now but even I, to this day, love pretty much any cheeseburger I can get my chubby little fingers on. WSU had five straight home games to start the year in 2017 and that left Morrow missing one thing: cheeseburgers.
““I’m really excited to play an away game, I’m not going to lie,” Jamal Morrow told the media last week. “I like to just get on the flight and... You know, those little cheeseburgers they have on the airplane. It’s like one of the greatest cheeseburgers of all time. Alaska [Airlines], shout out to them.”
What we’re unsure of
Size: Morrow is listed as a very, very generous 5’9” and 203 pounds which would seem to be a standard roster size exaggeration. That size is fine in college but with the game speed in the NFL being what it is and the players in the NFL being the size they are, it’s hard to survive at that size. Some players have done it and done it well but they are the exception and not the rule.
Versatility: Weirdly, we’re back where we started. Morrow did two things pretty well in college but he didn’t blow you away with one skill or the other. He’ll be listed and thought of as a running back by NFL teams and his production just isn’t there. NFL teams moving away from one feature back could help him there but Morrow only totaled up about 1,800 yards in four full seasons from handoffs.
Morrow is a likely candidate to go undrafted and, if he was only going to end up in the 7th round anyway, this is probably a better outcome considering he can pick where he goes.
I’d be very, very willing to bet Morrow will have to be open to move from running back to inside receiver. He’s not a prototypical NFL back but at his size and speed, he’s exactly what a lot of teams are looking for in the slot. He could find a good home there in the NFL.