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Who We're Watching: Bishop Sankey

1/28/2014
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The time between the All-Star games and the NFL scouting combine is the perfect time to grind through tape, making it one of the most productive periods of the year.

Here’s a breakdown of Washington running back Bishop Sankey, based on the video of his games against Stanford, Arizona State, Oregon State and UCLA.

Sankey's ability to make defenders miss in the hole, bounce outside after pressing the line of scrimmage and exploit cutback lanes speak to his above-average lateral quickness. His ability to make crisp cuts isn't the only reason he’s an effective cutback runner, either. He reads the second level and the flow of the defense well.

He’s not an elusive ankle breaker in space, despite that lateral burst. He has above-average, open-field instincts and makes safeties pay for taking subpar pursuit angles by cutting back, but he doesn't shake as many defenders one-on-one as you’d expect.

It will also be interesting to see how he runs at the combine, because he doesn't show breakaway speed as a ball carrier or after the catch on tape.

Listed at 5-10 and 203 pounds, Sankey's a determined runner with good balance, but he has explosive power, not brute strength, and he’s not going to push the pile in short-yardage situations. He needs a full head of steam to pick up yards after contact and that can be an issue between the tackles, where he appears indecisive and wastes too much motion when he doesn't get a defined seam.

As far as his skills on third down are concerned, Sankey can catch passes thrown outside his frame and away from his body. He has the burst to separate and develop into an effective route-runner, but there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to tempo and setting up his breaks.

Pass protection is Sankey's biggest weakness in this area. He gives too much ground when he doesn't cut the legs out from under defenders, and he can be more aggressive attacking his assignments.

Finally, Sankey fumbled once during the four-game evaluation. He didn't keep the ball tight enough to his frame when he tried to cut back early in the UCLA game, but his overall ball security was sound for the most part.

At this point in the process, Sankey projects as a late-Day 2 or early-Day 3 pick. They are built differently and Sankey will likely run better, but Sankey reminds me of Dallas' 2013 fifth-round pick Joseph Randle out of Oklahoma State. Atlanta and Houston are two possible landing spots for Sankey.