Syracuse running back Sean Tucker possesses electric speed and an endearing social-media presence. In three seasons with the Orange, he’s become a much-loved and highly productive college football RB with multiple accolades and records to his name. However, his NFL Draft stock doesn’t match the CFB attention. Does Tucker’s scouting report suggest a smooth transition to the NFL level?
Sean Tucker NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Running Back
- School: Syracuse
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 5’9″, 207 pounds
A two-time All-MIAA “A” Conference honoree during his high school career for Calvert Hall, he was named to the Baltimore Touchdown Club “Super 22” team as a result of consecutive 14 touchdowns and 1,000+ rushing yard seasons. That production didn’t translate to the recruiting trail, but Tucker found a home at Syracuse as a three-star prospect in the 2020 class.
Considered a redshirt candidate heading into his freshman season, injury opened the door for Tucker in 2020. In seven starts, he tallied 626 rushing yards and four touchdowns while compiling three 100+ yard games (Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, and Liberty).
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Tucker established himself as one of the top running backs in the nation as a sophomore. Registering a ridiculous nine games of 100+ yards, the sophomore sensation set a Syracuse RB single-season record with 1,496 rushing yards. Additionally, he found the end zone 12 times. As a result of his electric performances, Tucker earned All-American and All-ACC honors.
In his final season with the Orange, Tucker further asserted himself on the Syracuse record books. Another 1,000+ yard season, combined with 254 receiving yards, made him the first player in program history to post consecutive seasons with over 1,000 rushing and 250 receiving yards. In declaring for the draft, he finished third in ‘Cuse history for career rushing yards.
Sean Tucker Scouting Report
The 2023 NFL Draft running back class has a very clear consensus at the very top. Once you maneuver past Bijan Robinson, things began to become a little more convoluted with a pick-your-poison approach to ranking backs that bring different qualities and skill sets to the NFL level.
Coming into the 2022 college football season, it was felt that Tucker might slide into the “best of the rest” group behind Robinson. While his scouting report might indicate that the slide is a little further, his strengths provide optimism that he still has a role to play at the next level.
The hallmark of Tucker’s scouting report and college success at Syracuse is a combination of explosiveness and speed. A former 55m, 100m, and 200m sprint champion, he boasts legitimate track speed. As we’ve seen before, that doesn’t always translate to the football field, but in the Syracuse RB’s case, it most certainly does.
Find yourself a linebacker or defensive back who can go toe to toe with Tucker down the length of the field, and you’ve found a rare talent indeed. Once Tucker’s in the daylight, it’s goodnight for his opponent, leaving them only with dreams of catching him and nightmares of the 5’9″, 207-pound shadow monster that has just effortlessly glided past them.
Yet, it isn’t just speed that Tucker possesses. The 55m sprint is the ultimate track and field test of acceleration, and there’s no coincidence that the Syracuse RB was champion in consecutive years while at Calvert Hill.
Tucker possesses excellent explosion, with the ability to create easy space and yardage off the tackles. Meanwhile, if he finds a hole to exploit in the interior, he’s quickly able to hit that and turn the opportunity into a big gain once his long burners take over from his rocket-propelled takeoff.
Additionally, Tucker is fleet of foot, with light and rapid footwork that enables him to change course with relative ease. The Syracuse RB has also demonstrated the ability to plant his foot and cut to leave defenders grasping at air, even within the tight confines of the line of scrimmage.
In open space, Tucker utilizes cuts and stutter steps to put his opponent in a pickle and create extra yardage. A compact running back who rushes with a low center of gravity, the Syracuse back displays good contact balance and has demonstrated the ability to extend runs beyond contact.
Beyond his athletic ability and low-slung running back style, Tucker has enough ball carrier vision to effectively follow rushing lanes. This ability between the tackles may mitigate some of the concerns teams may have about him being a smaller back.
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Similarly, despite being the focal point of the Syracuse offense with almost 600 carries on his college résumé, Tucker’s ball security was a plus point in the games studied. It’s easy to see that the Syracuse RB takes pride in ball security and routinely secures the ball in a manner where it’s difficult for his opponent to force a fumble.
As NFL teams demand more from their backs, evaluating a college rusher’s ability to contribute as a pass protector and as a receiving weapon is important. Tucker almost doubled his receptions in 2022, at times showcasing a natural, reliable pass-catching technique.
I don’t think anyone is expecting pass protection to be Tucker’s selling point to an NFL team in the upcoming draft. However, there are positive signs of both willingness and some ability in this regard. The Syracuse running back will attempt to halt progress to his quarterback and is not afraid to lower his shoulder into contact.
Area of Improvement
There’s a very clear alluring element to Tucker’s scouting report as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect. The Syracuse running back has a rare brand of speed and explosion and has proven to be a near unstoppable force when working off-tackle. However, there are some areas of concern that will likely cause pause for teams.
Tucker is unlikely to ever be a north/south power runner. While he’s not the smallest back in the class, there’s little from his college tape to suggest that he possesses an element of physicality to be a bully between the tackles. He won’t be a short-yardage, goal-line threat at the NFL level.
Meanwhile, there are some question marks over Tucker’s vision and decisiveness as a pure rusher. If his initial path is blocked, he’s more likely to be taken down than find another avenue to exploit. Furthermore, he didn’t hit the hole with the same aplomb in his junior season as previously demonstrated.
A secure running back with the ball in his hands, the same can’t be said for his contribution as a receiver. While there are some positive pass-catching contributions on his tape, as mentioned earlier in his scouting report, Tucker can be prone to deviate from the correct technique with drops the inevitable conclusion — of which there were several on my exposure to the Syracuse RB.
His value as a three-down back in the NFL is likely to be further devalued by a lack of stellar pass protection capability. The same strength and power deficiencies that are likely to limit his role as a pure rusher inhibit his potential to be a physical blocker while his technical approach will require some refinement.
Finally, while he has received clearance now, Tucker was ruled medically ineligible to perform at the 2023 NFL Combine and only received clearance late in the process. Information as to what caused his exclusion from Indianapolis hasn’t been made available, but expect NFL teams to do their due diligence.
Current Draft Projection for Syracuse RB Sean Tucker
Tucker entered the 2023 NFL Draft cycle with exciting potential as an explosive rusher with excellent speed and the ability to rip off chunk plays for fun. That element remains, and teams looking for a running back to be a threat off the tackle will love the positives of the Syracuse running back’s 2023 NFL Draft scouting report.
However, with his lack of reliability as a receiver and almost non-existent value as a pass protector, Tucker’s stock will likely be impacted by a presumably limited usage at the NFL level — especially in a deep class of running back talent. As a result, it may be Day 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft before the Syracuse RB hears his name called.
Sean Tucker NFL Combine Measurements and Results
- Wingspan: TBC
- Arm: 30″
- Hand: 9 1/2″
- 40-Yard Dash: N/A
- 10-Yard Split: N/A
- Vertical Jump: N/A
- Broad Jump: N/A
- 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A
- Bench Press: N/A
Tucker was expected to be one of the star participators at the 2023 NFL Combine due to his explosion and straight-line speed. However, the 2023 NFL Draft prospect was medically excluded from participating in Indianapolis and subsequently from the Syracuse Pro Day.
On Mar. 18, Tucker used his significant social media presence to post a video of a private workout where he completed several of the tests carried out at the NFL Combine.
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While stressing that there is no official corroboration of those numbers, the video included a 41.5″ vertical jump and two attempts at the 40-yard dash. Tucker ran a 4.39 seconds time on the first run, followed by a 4.33 seconds attempt on the second run.
An average of the two times would have matched Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs as the second-fastest running back at the Combine. Having received medical clearance just over a week before the draft, Tucker will hold a private workout at Syracuse on Apr. 24.