Should Hassan Haskins be the RB target for the Denver Broncos in the 2022 NFL Draft?

Michigan Wolverines running back Hassan Haskins (25) stiff arms Ohio State Buckeyes safety Bryson Shaw (17) in the second half at Michigan Stadium.
Nov 27, 2021; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Hassan Haskins (25) stiff arms Ohio State Buckeyes safety Bryson Shaw (17) in the second half at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos are likely to target a running back at some point in the 2022 NFL Draft, and one name they should keep their eyes on is Michigan man Hassan Haskins.

Haskins was an unknown commodity that exploded onto the scene in 2021 and became one of college football’s most productive running backs. In his final season in maize and blue, Haskins tallied over 1,450 yards from scrimmage and scored 20 touchdowns for the Wolverines, as he fueled the offense towards the College Football Playoff.

Should Denver target the former Ann Arbor star in the draft? Let’s look.

Strengths

Haskins isn’t an athletic freak, unlike many of the additions Denver’s made since George Paton took over, but he still has a few very impressive traits that should translate well at the next level.

For starters, Haskins is a very strong back. This primarily shows up through his impressive contact balance and ability to shake off would-be tacklers. That contact balance paired with Haskins’ excellent vision and body control allows him to find and squirt through the tiniest holes in the defensive front, for solid gains.

His contact balance also helps him bounce off tacklers, stay upright, and keep sprinting downfield. He’ll explode into contact and either fall forward, or knock them off of him, allowing him to continue the play. His balance almost gives him an added level of elusiveness, which he could use, as he isn’t especially springy.

Haskins definitely still has some bounce though. At times he’ll make explosive lateral cuts to break a defender’s ankles, and he probably would’ve led the NCAA in hurdles last season if there was a stat that tallied hurdles.

He also does an excellent job of scanning for and spotting incoming second- and third-level defenders, and manipulating their leverage and momentum to slip by and continue downfield.

 

The other aspect of his game in which his impressive strength shows up is in pass protection, which will allow him to contribute on all three downs immediately at the next level.

Haskins has the core strength and frame to anchor against incoming linebackers and has excellent vision, to help spot pass-rushing creepers. He also enjoys the contact and makes a point to seek it out. When he does find the contact he’s searching for, his power allows him to pack a solid punch at the point of attack.

That love of contact showed up when Haskins played on special teams early in his career, so he could also help there for the Broncos.

He should also be a great fit for Nathaniel Hackett’s offensive scheme, as two of Haskins’ best traits when carrying the ball are his high-end vision and discipline. He looks like a veteran in the way he balances his aggression to explode through holes when they open, and his patience to let those holes develop.

Lastly, his usage should be appealing to Denver. While at Michigan, he totaled just 476 touches and was injured only once, meaning he has experienced a limited amount of wear and tear. Plus, across those 476 carries, Haskins didn’t fumble once.

Concerns

If you want a lightning-type back to pair with Javonte Williams, Haskins won’t be your guy. He lacks top-end speed and his short-area burst is fairly pedestrian, despite showing flashes of explosiveness.

As a result, he struggles to create plays on his own. If there’s a hole, Haskins will almost certainly find it and get the most out of that crease, but if there isn’t a hole, Haskins is S.O.L.

That lack of burst also prevents him from being a perfect fit for this scheme, as you would like someone that could beat defenders to the edge more consistently, but Haskins’ vision and patience help make up for it.

One bad habit in Haskins’ game is that he frequently runs upright with a high pad level, somewhat hindering his contact balance.

Haskins also has very limited pass-catching experience, and it was clear Michigan didn’t think too highly of his ability to impact the game through the air, as they would often turn to one of the other backs on the roster when they wanted to send one out for a pass.

He tallied just 24 receptions for 171 yards during his time in Ann Arbor, and just 18 receptions for 131 yards this year, during his breakout campaign. That means just 6 percent of his 2021 touches came on receptions.

Verdict

The Broncos would be hard-pressed to do better at running back, on the third day of the draft, than Hassan Haskins.

His lack of elite athletic traits and pass-catching ability are legitimate issues the Broncos will have to be comfortable with, but his other abilities are able to comfortably make up for these shortcomings.

He isn’t a pass-catcher, yet, but he’s going to be an excellent pass protector from day one, so you don’t have to worry about him only being a two-down player. He doesn’t have the top-end speed you’d hope for, but he’s so disciplined and perceptive that you can live with it.

That natural feel and vision for the play paired with his terrific contact balance allow him to get the most out of nearly every carry.

Hassan Haskins would be a wonderful selection for the Denver Broncos.

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