D’Vonte Price, FIU RB | NFL Draft Scouting Report

When looking at his scouting report, can D'Vonte Price be the first FIU RB ever selected to the NFL as he heads to the 2022 NFL Draft?

Florida International running back D’Vonte Price may not be a household name as an NFL Draft prospect. However, the powerful rusher has been on the radar of the Senior Bowl since last year, and his invite to the must-attend event in Mobile is sure to propel him into the national consciousness. Price has pro potential, and we dive into his scouting report to discover what makes the FIU RB so well respected ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft in April.

D’Vonte Price NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Running Back
  • School: Florida International
  • Current Year: Super Senior
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 215 pounds

D’Vonte Price Scouting Report

When Price heads to the 2022 NFL Draft, he’ll be looking to break new ground as an FIU running back. FIU has never had a player at the position selected to the NFL. In fact, you can count the total number of NFL Draft prospects that the Panthers have had picked in the annual selection event on two hands (10).

Nevertheless, we’re not in the business of discrediting prospects based on the program they’ve performed for. There’s an adage, “scout the player, not the helmet.” Price, amongst others, is why this saying exists. His scouting report demonstrates his pro potential and explains why so many scouts are excited about his projection to the next level. 

The running back position contains a myriad of styles. Price fits firmly into the mold of a downhill runner who does his best work between the tackles. At 6’2″ and 215 pounds, he has the lower body strength and density to bully his way through traffic on the interior. Despite his height, Price routinely demonstrates the ability to bulldoze through defenders by lowering his shoulder to initiate contact. 

Once contact is initiated, his lower body strength allows him to grind out extra yardage. He also displays impressive contact balance, rarely collapsing on first contact. Furthermore, Price routinely falls forward, ensuring that there is no wasted yardage. 

A bulldozer who also possesses finesse and impressive long speed

For a player of his size, Price demonstrates some finesse when running between the tackles. While he can bulldoze forward, he shows impressive vision rather than blindly barreling into battle. Additionally, the FIU RB displays an exceptional ability to get skinny through the gaps he identifies. He has showcased excellent footwork and the ability to cut when presented with a roadblock in his way. 

What happens when he is through the trenches sets Price apart from other bigger backs in this NFL Draft class. The Panthers product possesses impressive long speed, ensuring he can break away from chasing defenders and generate big runs to the end zone. 

Evaluating running backs is more than just ticking a box to say the guy can run. As the NFL covets “three-down backs,” they need to possess blocking ability and receiving prowess. As you’d expect from a back of Price’s size, he’s a physical blocker, showing no fear regardless of who his opponent may be. 

However, he also possesses some impressive technical qualities. He embraces rushers with a low pad level, absorbing contact well while displaying awareness and routinely looking for work. The FIU running back also showcases some impressive handwork as a blocker at times. 

Areas for improvement 

As you can see from the start of Price’s scouting report, he has pro potential. Still, some areas of his scouting report will require improvement. At present, he should be considered a Day 3 selection, and some of these limiting factors are why. 

Thankfully for Price, the Senior Bowl will allow him to present improvement in at least one area. Although he has 45 receptions for 307 yards and 1 touchdown during his career, Price isn’t used routinely in the passing game. With the NFL increasingly wanting to see that ability, Price will need to demonstrate reliable catching techniques during practices in Mobile. 

As we alluded to earlier, running backs can be grouped by style. While some backs blur the lines of these style groupings, Price firmly fits in the “downhill thumper” role. Although he has shown some excellent footwork and cutability, he isn’t going to create a ton of yardage with multiple cuts, spins, jukes, hurdles, etc. 

While Price has had a relatively clean bill of health throughout his college career, he is currently out with a lower body injury. He also missed two games of his freshman season. Although it shouldn’t impact his NFL Draft stock, it is something to be aware of. 

D’Vonte Price Player Profile

There’s a well-known saying in scouting circles, “if you can play, they’ll find you.” While the phrase usually applies to FCS or DII and DIII players, it could just as easily be used for Price in this 2022 NFL Draft class. With precious little production relative to some of the other prospects in the class, coming from a conference without a reputation for producing game-changing running backs, Price has rushed under the radar.

Yet, he is used to overcoming smaller surroundings to emerge on a grander stage. Price hails from Punta Gorda, Florida, a town with just over 16,000 inhabitants. Additionally, the town has something of a retirement reputation, with an aging population. Price attended Charlotte High School, ranking in-state for the 110-meter hurdles as part of their track and field team.

Yet, the Florida native did his best work on the football field. In a 32-game career for the Tarpons, he amassed 1,265 rushing yards with 11 rushing touchdowns. He also added 12 receiving scores, 4 of which came during a senior campaign where he helped Charlotte to a 12-1 record and a state semifinal.

Despite the success, Price was under-recruited coming out of Charlotte. The three-star recruit was the 112th running back in the class as per 247 Sports. While he had interest from SEC school Kentucky, the majority of his offers came from Group of Five schools, particularly Conference USA. With its proximity to home and a bond forged with other recruits on his visit, he committed to FIU in December 2016.

Price’s career at FIU

Despite a deep RB rotation at FIU, Price was able to get some early snaps in as a true freshman. Although he missed two games with an ankle injury, he made 10 appearances. Moreover, he earned his first career start against Western Kentucky. He flashed his power and versatility in that game as a special-teams coverage man, logging 2 tackles and returning a fumble to the house for his first career touchdown.

As a true freshman RB, his statistics weren’t overwhelming. In fact, on the surface, they were unimpressive. He managed just 131 rushing yards, adding another 45 on receptions and 17 on kick returns. Regardless, scraping beneath the rushing total, Price averaged 8.7 yards per carry.

That earned him a bigger slice of the running back pie as a sophomore. In the season opener against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Price rushed for his first 100-plus-yard game, with his first 2 rushing touchdowns. His 70-yard score would remain the longest rushing play of the entire 2019 season for the Panthers.

It was also the first of two games with over 100 yards, the second coming against Western Kentucky. Price had tallied 560 rushing yards with 5 touchdowns by the end of the year and added another 183 all-purpose yards. Price appeared to be ascending, but in 2019, he suffered a down year with just 249 yards at 5.0 yards per carry.

Responding and rebounding to professional and personal adversity 

The mark of a man is defined not by how he celebrates success but by how he responds to tough times. A difficult campaign on the football field in 2019 gave way to a personal tragedy just before the start of his senior year. Mixed in with the disruption of the 2020 college football season, there was a confluence of influences that could have crushed him.

Yet, Price responded and rebounded with the best season of his career. With 6.84 yards per carry and 116.2 yards per game, he set school records. In four of the five games he appeared in 2020, Price went over 100 yards rushing. Included in those was a career-high 178-yard performance against Florida Atlantic. Price added 5 TDs to his résumé while earning an honorable mention for the All-Conference USA team for the first time in his career.

As a draft-eligible running back, scouts were paying attention to Price by the end of the 2020 season. Senior Bowl executive Jim Nagy was asked to get the FIU RB down to Mobile. Underdogdynasty.com quotes Nagy as saying:

“The league is always looking for 6’2″, 225-pound backs who display a breakaway gear that can separate themselves from most backs of that size.”

A difficult decision pays dividends

The attention caused some conflict for Price. Due to the disruption of the season, he had extra availability so he could return. However, the option to jump to the NFL was one that many people wanted him to take.

“That was a very stressful decision, to be honest,” Price told underdogdynasty.com. “One day I woke up, I said I’m leaving. The next, I said I’m staying. At the end of the day, I had to block out the outside noise — a lot of which was telling me NFL — and just make the best decision for me.”

That decision was to return to FIU for one final campaign. Price opened the season in dramatic style, rushing for 165 yards and 3 touchdowns against LIU. Most impressively, he did it on just 5 carries. The FIU RB followed that performance with a 111-rushing-yard outing against Texas State.

The decision to return paid dividends for Price. Through nine games, he’s tallied a career-high 682 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns. His average of 5.3 yards per carry means he’s never had a season below 5 yards per carry at FIU. Price also has his Senior Bowl invite, with the opportunity to elevate his stock in Mobile. From the small town of Punta Gorda to the verge of the NFL, Price is about to appear prominently on the national radar.

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter @ojhodgkinson.

RELATED
FANTASY
NFL
RELATED POSTS