Ohio State Running Back Mike Weber Stands Out In What May Be A Loaded 2018 Running Back Class.
Mike Weber, Ohio State, Running Back, 5’10”, 212 lbs
Mike Weber, after some back-and-forth with Michigan during the recruiting process, ultimately decided to commit to Ohio State. He was redshirted as a freshman and made his debut last year. There were exceptional expectations going into the season, and despite the relatively low workload, he flashed the ability to live up to those expectations. His expectations for next year will be even higher.
There are a lot of really good running backs that will be eligible for the 2018 NFL draft. Mike Weber has the opportunity to elevate his game this year and be among the top tiers of this year’s running back class. All of the areas that he could stand to improve in are areas that he has the tools to excel. Unlike last year, he should have the opportunity to shoulder the bulk of the workload in this upcoming season. By the season’s end, we should have a much better picture of how Weber stacks up with the top names in this class. Here is a preseason look at Weber’s skill set and how he projects as a prospect going into this year, and for more on upcoming Ohio State prospects, check out this overview by Cory Hayes.
In 2016, Mike Weber only carried the ball 182 times. This was an exceptionally small workload for an Ohio State running back. Even with the lesser workload, Weber managed 1096 yards, averaging six yards per carry while notching nine touchdowns on the ground. He also added 23 receptions for 91 yards in his 13 games. Given the limited usage, Weber was extremely productive, and should have the opportunity to show that he can continue to excel in a more consistent role in Ohio State’s offense.
Mike Weber has displayed excellent vision both at the line of scrimmage and at the second level of the defense. Ohio State’s perennially good offensive line helps make Weber’s job a lot easier in this regard, but you can’t fault him for having a talented group in front of him. Weber does an excellent job of diagnosing the defense in real time and finding the correct hole.
He isn’t the type of player that is going to wow you with his ability to find a hole multiple gaps away and cut back, but he does a good job of anticipating what is in front of him and getting to the holes at the right time.
At the second level, Weber does a nice job of reading blocks and defenders and forcing them to adjust their angles to get the most out of his runs. He doesn’t try to do too much, and isn’t a guy that is going to find lanes to reverse field or do anything spectacular in this category, but he does a nice job of finding ways to utilize his vision and football intelligence to pick up extra yards in the open field.
Patience is something that Mike Weber has rarely been required to use when running the football. This is another area that his offensive line really affected his play style. With the holes that Ohio State’s offensive line was able to open for Weber, patience wasn’t something that Weber needed to utilize much.
This isn’t to say that Weber is incapable of being a patient runner. When the situation required it, Weber showed that he had the ability to slow down, wait for a play to develop in front of him, read the hole, and get there. This is the ideal scenario for a running back. He isn’t patient to a fault, where he is passively making his way to a hole, but shows the instincts to know when he needs to slow down and let the blocking develop.
Hitting The Hole
This is one of the strongest parts of Mike Weber’s game. Weber doesn’t hesitate when he finds daylight. He doesn’t dance in the backfield. He aggressively attacks the defense when he finds a seam. If there is yardage to be gained, Weber is going to get it. He shows decisiveness and the ability to quickly process where he needs to go to maximize the run and gets there quickly.
His burst through the hole is excellent. He is explosive when getting upfield, and uses this ability to help accent other areas of his game.
This is an area where Mike Weber struggles. Weber doesn’t do well when the offensive line collapses. This can be said for most running backs, but the best backs find ways to make something out of nothing. Without forward momentum, Weber struggles to fight through contact to get back to the line of scrimmage. He also doesn’t generally exhibit the elusiveness to make a man miss in the backfield and keep a play alive.
Mike Weber was used extensively out of the shotgun and on counter plays. These plays are generally not helpful to a player’s forward momentum. Playing behind the quarterback allows a running back to get a head of steam heading into the hole. This was something that Weber was not afforded often. Despite this, Weber’s burst through the hole, aggressive attacking of the defense, and his decision making speed make his momentum a strength of his game.
When Weber has the opportunity to get past the line of scrimmage, his forward momentum can carry him deep into the defense and gain yards through contact.
Mike Weber, due to his more powerful play style, often has his speed overlooked. Despite the fact that Weber welcomes contact, he has the top-end speed to run away from defenders. He generally doesn’t utilize this until he has a clean lane. He won’t be racing defenders to the sideline, and Ohio State’s offense didn’t ask him to run to the corner very often, but when he gets in the open field, he isn’t going to get caught from behind.
This is something that we may see more of in this upcoming season. While Mike Weber has played more to contact in the past, he definitely has the tools to beat people with his speed as well as his power. This upcoming season should give us a better look at whether this will be a part of his game at the next level or whether it will be more of an extra luxury for a guy who plays a more power-back kind of role.
Weber’s legs don’t stop moving. It doesn’t matter how many guys pile on him. He just keeps churning ahead and fighting for yards. This is one of my favorite traits in a running back. Every yard counts, and this is especially true in the running game. The willingness to fight for every yard and scrap for every inch is something that cannot be overlooked in a back. This is something that Mike Weber is already excellent at. There are very few backs that succeed at the NFL level who let themselves go dead on contact. This will not be a concern for Mike Weber.
Power and Balance Through Contact
In my opinion, this is the best part of Weber’s game. Mike Weber is a powerful running back. Weber doesn’t get taken down by arm tackles. That just doesn’t happen very often. He is excellent at adjusting his body, forcing defenders to adjust their angles and making sure that he doesn’t take a lot of clean hits.
When defenders try to arm tackle him, he shows the ability to not only run through the tackles but lose very little speed doing so. This is a testament to the downhill momentum that he gets as a result of his burst through the hole and his top-end speed.
When defenders hit him without wrapping up, he shows excellent balance, due to a nice, low pad level, and is able to bounce off the defender and keep moving up-field. This combination of balance and power makes him very difficult to take down. It usually takes multiple defenders landing hits in succession to bring Weber to the ground.
While this isn’t a huge part of his game, when Weber gets moving to the outside, he has shown that he has a strong stiff arm that can help him pick up extra yards to the sideline. This may be something that we see him utilize more often in the upcoming season, and would be an intriguing addition to an already very complete power aspect to his game.
Even when a defender gets Mike Weber squared up, lands a solid hit, and wraps up, Weber shows the ability to win in one-on-one collisions. He isn’t usually a guy that will truck and keep moving, but when Weber lowers his shoulder and takes on a defender, he has shown that he will often fall forward for a few extra yards.
This is an interesting part of Mike Weber’s skill set. He has top end speed. He has excellent burst through the hole. Weber shows good vision and good use of his blockers. These are all usually traits of a player who also excels in making defenders miss in the open field. This isn’t really something that Weber does on a consistent basis.
Weber doesn’t really juke defenders. He doesn’t break ankles. In the open field, it is usually one cut to try and get past a defender and get upfield. He then uses his speed and power combination to either get past the defender with that cut or take the defender a few yards up the field with him.
Judging by his athleticism and skill set, I think Mike Weber definitely has the ability to add elusiveness to his game. It just hasn’t happened yet. This is something that I look forward to looking for in this upcoming season. If he can show the ability to translate his explosiveness to making defenders miss on a more consistent basis, it will be a huge addition for him as a prospect.
Running backs who can catch the ball out of the backfield are becoming more and more valuable as the NFL shifts its focus more and more toward the passing game. Weber was utilized extensively in this area last season, given the amount he was used in the run game.
Weber catches the ball fairly well. He lets the ball get into his body, not uncommon for a running back, and this sometimes results in drops. That said, Weber generally does a good job catching the ball and has shown the ability to catch passes away from his frame from time to time.
Ohio State really didn’t ask Mike Webber to do much in terms of his routes. He usually was just a check-down option in the flats. Even when he lined up split out as a receiver, he was seldom asked to make cuts in his routes or create any sort of separation from defenders. This isn’t uncommon for college running backs, but this is something that I will be paying attention to in this upcoming season. I’d like to see him get the opportunity to shake linebackers in coverage to give a better idea of his viability in the passing game at the NFL level.
After the catch, he is the same player he is as a running back. Mike Weber catches the ball and is a no-nonsense RAC producer. He gets upfield, welcomes contact and fights for every yard.
Receiving is definitely an area where I expect to see excellent production from Weber this next season, especially with the losses of some of the focal points of Ohio State’s passing attack.
This is always one of the most underrated parts of a prospect’s game. It isn’t exciting to watch. It isn’t fun to evaluate. But it is important all the same. The ability to pass block keeps a running back on the field, and the more a player is on the field, the more he can contribute to his team.
Weber needs some serious work as a blocker. He has all of the physical tools to excel in this area but clearly lacks experience. Part of this is due to his extensive usage in the passing game. He often looks lost when trying to determine where he needs to be. When he finds a defender to block, he often fails in the engagement process. Once engaged, his blocks don’t hold for long.
Most college running backs struggle in pass blocking, so this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise for a player who only has one real season of college experience, but it is definitely an area that needs improvement.
While Mike Weber is not among the elite ranks of Saquon Barkley and Derrius Guice, he is very much in the conversation for the next tier. Weber’s excellent combination of speed and power, coupled with his excellent vision and decisiveness make for a very good NFL prospect. He has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, fight through tackles and pick up extra yards after contact. These are all valuable traits in a running back that Mike Weber already demonstrates.
In addition to continuing to exhibit those traits with a more consistent workload, I would also like to see him improve his ability in the open field. His approach to running the football helps him at the line of scrimmage and in traffic, but more finesse might help him better utilize his straight line speed and burst in the open field.
If Mike Weber can take steps forward this year with more carries, he should have the opportunity to be an excellent running back prospect heading into the NFL draft.
For more on upcoming Ohio State prospects, check out this overview by Cory Hayes.