Last month, the Jets announced that they had signed several players to futures deals. We've been reviewing their strengths and weaknesses. Today we take a look at running back Jeremy Langford.
The 26-year old Langford is listed as 6'0" and 211 pounds and was a fourth round pick out of Michigan State in 2015. He rushed for 737 yards, caught 41 passes and scored 11 touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Chicago Bears but did not play last year as he spent time on the Ravens' practice squad.
When Langford arrived at Michigan State, he was initially converted to cornerback, then spent time as a wide receiver before converting back to the running back position. After two years, he had rushed for 23 yards and recorded five tackles, a sack and a fumble return for a touchdown.
Over his last two seasons, as a replacement for Le'Veon Bell, Langford rushed for almost 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns and added 39 catches including one for another touchdown.
Langford was rated as a mid-round pick and selected by the Bears in the fourth round. He had a slow start in his rookie year but then was called into action due to an injury to Matt Forté.
In his first two starts he racked up 142 and 182 yards from scrimmage and looked well on the way to being a potential star. However, he moved back into a reserve role when Forté returned and wasn't as effective in his second season.
He failed to make the Bears roster this season but spent time on the Ravens' practice squad before the Jets signed him to their practice squad in December.
Let's look in more detail at what Langford brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
Despite his experience as a wide receiver, Langford has been employed mostly as a conventional back. He has played some snaps out wide and in the slot but not contributed much from those positions.
Langford's workout numbers were mostly about average, but his 4.42 40-yard dash definitely boosted his stock. You can see a breakdown of his numbers below:
He didn't do the bench press at the combine due to a shoulder injury. He did 19 reps at his pro day.
Langford only averaged 3.6 yards per carry in his rookie year and 3.2 in his second season. He only broke one 20-yard run in each year. His preseason averages were higher in 2015 and 2016, but in 2017 he averaged less than three yards per carry.
He has good burst and makes good cuts in the open field but doesn't break a lot of tackles and scouts have said that he sometimes has a tendency to bounce to the outside too early.
Here's a good run with a nice burst through the hole and a good move to elude the tackler at the second level:
One issue is that as he breaks into the open field, he sometimes seems to start to lose his balance and this can slow him down.
Langford had a couple of fumbles in his senior year at MSU and two more in his rookie year, but has none since. Here was one of the ones in his rookie season:
Langford was used a lot as a short-yardage back with the Bears. He has 10 rushing touchdowns in the NFL, of which eight were from the goal line and one was a two-yard run. The only one that wasn't a short-yardage run was a six-yarder where he was untouched up the middle.
He has a good nose for the goal-line and has enough burst to find a lane to the end zone. On this play, he showed good instincts to realize he had no room and reverse his field to get to the goal line:
Despite his previous experience as a wide receiver, virtually all of Langford's receptions at the NFL level have been on dump-offs. He showed good open-field running to turn this one into an 83-yard touchdown:
The only example of him making a downfield catch at the NFL level was this nice diving catch over the top:
However, his concentration can let him down. Although he only dropped one pass in his senior year at MSU, he had 10 drops in two years with the Bears including eight in his rookie year which led all NFL backs. This third down drop, late in a tied game, proved very costly as the Vikings got the ball back and kicked the game winning field goal:
Langford has plenty of experience as a pass blocker and didn't give up any sacks in his first two years, although he did get beaten for some pressures. On this fourth-and-short play, he double-teamed to his right as a blitzer came unblocked up the middle:
He had one holding penalty in regular season action.
Langford doesn't appear to have any kick return experience but has contributed in kick coverage. In his redshirt sophomore year, he had a special teams tackle in four straight games. He's also been used on the punt rush team and as a blocker.
He's also had a couple of tackles and a holding penalty at the NFL level in regular and preseason action.
Langford's open-field running instincts are pretty good and he didn't seem to blow any obvious assignments. As with anyone who's played multiple positions, he probably benefits from that.
Langford's perseverance as he worked his way into the starting running back role with the Spartans has been praised. Evidently he has a good work ethic and a determined attitude.
Langford has been slowed at times with an ankle injury. This caused him to miss time during the 2016 season and in preseason last year. He was placed on the practice squad injury list with an undisclosed injury in September.
Langford's running style would seem suitable for the kind of one-cut system they'll probably install with Rick Dennison as the running game coordinator.
He has admitted that in the past he often used to try and break a touchdown run all the time, but has learned to do a better job of taking what the defense gives him.
Langford looked like he might be on the road to stardom after a couple of break-out games a few years ago but seems to have been lost in the shuffle in Chicago. He now arrives at a Jets team that may be about to release the guy he used to back up with the Bears.
The Jets are likely to bring Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire back, even though Forté is expected to be released (if he doesn't retire). With the possibility of a draft pick also being used on a back, Langford will have to battle to win a roster spot.
However, if there are injuries and he gets an opportunity, he has produced in the past so perhaps he has a shot at making his mark.