Michigan RB Blake Corum is the epitome of the quote, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” His diminutive stature causes many to write him off or, at the very least, doubt his NFL projection. I am not one of those people. Corum’s 2023 NFL Draft scouting report explains why he should be near the top of the RB class.
Blake Corum NFL Draft Profile
- Position: RB
- School: Michigan
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 5’8″, 210 pounds
Born and raised in the one-stoplight town of Marshall, Virginia, Corum’s parents knew they would need to make sacrifices to give their son the opportunities he deserved.
Corum received his first scholarship from Toledo before playing his first high school game at Pallotti High School. And just two years later, he held more offers (17) than he had birthdays (16).
However, to further improve his recruitment, Corum transferred to powerhouse St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. As a result, he and his mother would wake up before the sun rose to make the three-hour drive to his new school.
The sacrifices paid off, as Corum exploded for 1,200+ yards and 19+ touchdowns in each of his final two seasons and received Maryland’s 2019 Gatorade Player of the Year. Oh, and when he wasn’t on the football field, he was wrestling, playing baseball, or running track.
But wait, there’s more! Teams didn’t have to speculate about his athleticism, as prior to his senior season, Corum participated in a high school showcase event, recording a 4.44 40-yard dash, 4.22 shuttle, and 33.80″ vertical.
All told, Corum was a highly-sought after four-star recruit, with bids from programs such as Ohio State, USC, and LSU. Ultimately, Michigan earned his signature, adding to an already loaded RB room.
With Chris Evans leaving for the NFL and Zach Charbonnet transferring to UCLA, Corum was next at-bat as a sophomore behind Hassan Haskins in the batter’s box. But the young RB garnered significant playing time, taking 144 carries for 952 yards and 11 TDs en route to third-team all-Big Ten honors.
In 2022, Corum’s skill set has been on full display. He’s the engine that powers a top-four team in the country. And it doesn’t matter what offense you drop him into at the NFL level — he will keep firing on all cylinders.
Blake Corum Scouting Report
Don’t take my word for it; just listen to how Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh speaks about his RB1: “Blake can get so close to a defender, a would-be tackler — within inches — and make a slight move where somebody close doesn’t even touch him. Some backs will make the cut a yard away or two yards away. Corum gets to the point where he can smell their breath.
“Probably no better example of selflessness in the program than Corum. He’s a tremendous worker and a tremendous leader, I can’t say enough good things about him. … He can protect, he can block, he can catch out of the backfield. He’s a five-tool running back — does it all.”
But if you do want to take my word for it … let’s dive in.
Where Corum Wins
First, let’s discuss the elephant — or, in Corum’s case, mouse — in the room. The Michigan RB is listed at 5’8″ and 210 pounds, but no one would be surprised if he is closer to 5’7″, 200. That’s not a knock on his physicality, which we will get to, but rather a statement of quantifiable fact.
Nevertheless, Corum more than makes up for his lack of bulk with sheer will and athleticism. He’s a rocked-up, dense ball of energy with electric dynamism within the tackles and in space. Simply put, Corum is one of the shiftiest and most explosive short-area RBs in college football.
His lateral quickness distorts tackling and blocking angles, generating missed tackles. Sudden and decisive cuts limit the Michigan RB’s time behind the line of scrimmage. And a combination of flexible ankles, a low center of gravity, and a powerful lower body provide a foundation for impressive contact balance.
Corum bounces off shoulder tackles and can absorb low hits while keeping his legs churning. Additionally, he barrels into congested areas with two arms around the ball for maximum security and finishes runs with a consistent forward lean.
Yet, where Corum mesmerizes casual viewers is with his ability to make defenders miss. Anyone foolish enough to volunteer their ankles in the open field will have them broken and put on a YouTube highlight reel where they will live in infamy.
His loose and fluid hips allow him to change directions instantly and string multiple moves together. The Michigan RB can plant and go, using his upper body to feign intent while his lower body initiates a launch in the opposite direction.
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Behind the LOS, Corum deploys lightning-quick feet and jump cuts, and his elusivity, lateral agility, and start/stop ability create an open-field nightmare. But we haven’t even arrived at the trait that will have NFL decision-makers clamoring for the Virginia native: vision.
Corum’s backfield vision is 20/20, and he often looks like he can manipulate time. Yes, Michigan’s offensive line has been one of the best in the country over the last two years. But Corum maximizes their push up front while also remedying inefficiencies on several plays a game.
He patiently allows his blocks to set up before bursting through gaps, often anticipating holes before they are fully open. Furthermore, he has an uncanny feeling for peripheral defenders, causing sure tackles to turn into misses.
When crashing upfield, the Michigan RB squares defenders up and gives subtle movements to trigger overcommitments. He will press holes to draw defenders in before bouncing outside for a chunk again. And he’s been extremely productive in a system that incorporates a healthy variety of zone, gap, and man-blocking schemes.
Lastly, although Corum is largely an afterthought in the passing game, he’s flashed receiving ability in his career. His size helps him slip out of the backfield undetected as a checkdown option or on screen passes. And he brings special-teams experience as a kick returner, taking 18 kickoffs for 400 yards.
Corum’s Areas for Improvement
If you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan of Corum’s game. But there are areas every player can improve. For all the jitterbug-esque tools at his disposal, Corum won’t be as much of a home-run threat in the NFL. He doesn’t own the long speed to outrun hawking defenders.
Speaking of physical limitations, the Michigan RB’s size will limit his usage. All the willpower in the world won’t help against 300+ pound nose tackles and loaded boxes in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Corum can break the occasional arm tackle and bounce off those who don’t wrap up, but he won’t run through defenders as bigger backs can. Another question surrounding his size is how he will hold up as a pass blocker.
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Currently, he’s only asked to throw a shoulder to help his linemen. But in one-on-one blocks, larger linebackers and edge rushers can walk him into the QB’s lap, despite the Michigan RB using his leverage and proper technique. He’s just too small to feel comfortable having him block on key downs.
Moreover, there’s concern over Corum’s durability. He dealt with a high ankle sprain last season, and while he’s been relatively healthy otherwise, it’s fair to ponder his ability to be a workhorse at the next level.
It’s difficult to scout Corum as a receiver because he hasn’t seen enough work to make definitive statements. But there is enough tap to glean an impression from. The Michigan RB is obviously a smaller target for his QB to hit downfield. And he had a few concentration drops last year as he looked upfield before securing the pass.
Current Draft Projection for Michigan RB Blake Corum
There’s no need to beat around the bush — Corum is worthy of Day 2 capital. In fact, I have him in Tier 2 of the 2023 RB class — behind only Bijan Robinson — with Jahmyr Gibbs and Devon Achane. Corum is neither the fastest nor the biggest back in the class, but his skill set easily translates to the NFL.
His discipline, vision, and footwork are a coach’s dream. His dedication and work ethic will endear him to his new teammates. His on-field silent-assassin demeanor, paired with video game-like highlight reels, will captivate NFL fans.
And for the defenders that will face Corum in the pros: “Dread it. Run from it. Destiny arrives all the same.”