Earlier this week, the Jets announced that they had signed running back Akeem Judd to the active roster. Judd had been on the practice squad since October. We're going to take an in-depth look at Judd's strengths and weaknesses.
The 25-year old Judd is listed as 5'11" and 225 pounds and is an undrafted rookie out of Mississippi. Judd was with the Titans in preseason but ended up on injured reserve.
Judd overcame a rough upbringing to attend a junior college for two years, after which he was able to transfer to Ole Miss in 2014.
After a redshirt year, Judd was used as a change of pace back in 2015. He rushed for 425 yards and three scores while also catching nine passes. In his redshirt senior year, Judd saw more action and rushed for 826 yards and six scores, while also catching 15 passes and his first touchdown reception.
He ended up with four 100-yard games in that year, including three over the last four games, as he established himself as a possible NFL prospect.
After going undrafted, Judd signed with the Titans and rushed for 55 yards on 11 carries in three preseason games. He also caught one short pass. After being released from injured reserve in October, Judd signed to the Jets' practice squad and was elevated to the active roster earlier this week.
Let's look in more detail at what Judd brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
While he was used as a change of pace back in college, Judd is more of a conventional power back than a scatback type. He doesn't have much experience of lining up out wide or in the slot.
Judd's pro day numbers were not bad but mostly below average. He did post 21 bench press reps though.
His 4.54 timed speed is adequate, but it's apparent from his film that he doesn't really have breakaway speed:
Despite that lack of speed, Judd averaged over five yards per carry in each of his seasons with the Rebels, mostly with a direct running style. He wasn't a big play threat, as he had just one run of over 30 yards in those two seasons.
Here he shows a good stutter-step move in the open field, though:
Judd perhaps doesn't have elite cutback ability, but does a good job of picking a running lane and hitting the hole hard. Despite being a bigger back, he shows an ability to get skinny through the hole on this play:
One impressive stat from his senior year was that he only lost a total of two yards on plays that went for a loss all season. However, he gained 40 of his 55 preseason yards on one play, which means his 10 other carries netted just 15 yards.
Judd is difficult to bring down and does a good job of falling forward at the end of a play. He ran over a defensive back in spectacular fashion here:
Judd shows an effective ability of punching the ball in from short range and his skill-set would seem suitable for that role, although he only had 10 touchdowns in two seasons and not all of them were from close to the goal line. Here was a touchdown he scored against the LSU Tigers:
Judd hasn't been much of a pass catching threat in collge, mostly just catching dump-offs. He had one downfield catch on a wheel route for a 21-yard gain.
Here was his only touchdown as he was a wide open checkdown option and made some good yards after the catch:
Judd had a few drops in college and doesn't look particularly comfortable catching the ball. A lot of the time his assignment was simply to sprint out to the flat to draw a defender out of the middle.
Judd was required to pass protect a lot more often in his senior year so he has some experience of being used in that fashion. He gave up a sack to Jeremy Cash - his future and former colleague on the Jets' practice squad - in preseason, but he also showed an ability to pick up the blitz on this play:
In college, Judd gave up a few sacks due to being overpowered as the pocket collapsed. However, he also gave up some pressure due to not moving his feet fast enough, as on this play which led to an interception:
Judd didn't play on special teams in college, but he had one tackle in coverage in preseason. He also got driven back while in punt protection on one play, leading to pressure on the punter.
He is probably too slow to be a viable option to return kicks and has no real experience of having done so before now.
Judd seems to have pretty good vision and open field running instincts, but displays some rawness as a receiver and pass blocker. He had just one penalty at Ole Miss and none in preseason.
Judd's toughness and resolve just to make it into the NFL are impressive. He had a tough upbringing, growing up in a rough area, losing family members and being surrounded by a drug culture. He also took a long road to get to the NFL by attending a junior college first.
Judd was placed on injured reserve after preseason due to a thumb injury but was healthy throughout his two years at Ole Miss. However, he struggled with injuries while playing at the junior college level.
With Matt Forté not healthy enough to practice and constantly a game-time decision and Elijah McGuire also limited this week, the Jets obviously brought Judd up for cover. However, if both or maybe even only one of those two is able to play, then Judd might not get to play.
If he does play, Judd could provide the team with a short yardage option, which could be useful because that's somewhere the Jets have struggled all season.
You never know what to expect from a running back once they get a chance to carry the rock, especially if they are completely fresh and seeing action at the end of the year when everyone else is banged up.
However, Judd doesn't immediately stand out as a player that has elite potential. Running behind this offensive line, it could be difficult for him to make an impression - if he even gets an opportunity to play.