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Rating the top fullbacks in the 2017 NFL Draft with an eye on Chiefs’ needs

Virginia Tech running back Sam Rogers runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine on March 3 in Indianapolis.
Virginia Tech running back Sam Rogers runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine on March 3 in Indianapolis. AP

Included in measurables are height, weight, age they turn this year (if available) and 40-yard-dash time. Grades and rankings are based on film study (at least six games worth, whenever possible) and proprietary reporting. Quotes are harvested from conference calls, individual interviews and television broadcasts. Grades are intended to convey a general sense of the draftee’s value, and where he might be selected. Only two players are listed because the fullback class is considered to be weak this year.

The Kansas City Chiefs could target a receiver, such as Western Michigan's Corey Brown, or a quarterback with the 27th overall selection in the NFL draft.

1. SAM ROGERS, Virginia Tech

Measurables: 5-10, 231, 22, 4.93

Bio: Three-year starter who rushed 67 times for 283 yards and two touchdowns in 2016. Also caught 24 passes for 301 yards and four touchdowns. Zero fumbles.

Strengths: Team captain in 2016. No-nonsense runner who churns forward. Displays decent lateral agility and feel on zone runs. Runs hard and shows the ability to make a man miss in space. Took some direct handoffs. Trusted single-back pass protector out of the gun, where he uses his natural leverage well to stonewall oncoming rushers. Aware and slides his feet well and steers them away from the quarterback. Shows soft hands and can help in the passing game, where he shows natural comfort. Occasionally splits out wide and even shows a little juice out of his breaks. Definitely has some upside in a West Coast offense. Former walk-on who gives good effort in all areas and is exceedingly durable.

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Weaknesses: A tad undersized, even for a fullback, with a notable lack of length that will limit him to fullback-type duties (as opposed to the “move” tight end stuff he did at Virginia Tech). Only 19 bench-press reps; will need to get much stronger to stick in this league. Doesn’t have much thump as a blocker — he has trouble winning in the phone booth — so he has to win with positioning, a problem that will only be exacerbated in the NFL if he doesn’t become a more explosive blocker. Straight-linish as a run blocker who has some trouble redirecting.

Grade: 6.1

Games watched: North Carolina 2015, Tennessee 2016, Boston College 2016, Pittsburgh 2016, Notre Dame 2016, Highlight reel 2016

2. FREDDIE STEVENSON, Florida State

Measurables: 6-0, 234, 22, 4.75

Bio: Three-year starter who rushed 13 times for 90 yards and four touchdowns in 2016. Also caught one pass for six yards and one touchdowns. Zero fumbles. Missed one game in 2016 with an anle injury.

Strengths: Posted 24 reps on the bench press at the Combine, among the best at his position. Quick feet for a fullback projects well to a zone-blocking scheme. Gets around the corner quickly as a lead blocker on tosses. Has a little shake with the ball in his hands; good athlete who runs hard and hurt you with his legs between the tackles or in space. Received some goal-line carries in 2016 and found paydirt twice. Has the athleticism to be a good receiver out of the backfield. Lined up as a “move” tight end. Effort as a run blocker was better in 2016. Cut block was fairly effective.

Weaknesses: Hardly an enforcer; doesn’t try to bury guys. Positional blocker who lacks consistent oomph. Catcher as a lead blocker in the running game who sometimes stops his feet upon contact. Looks like the former linebacker he is sometimes; needs to be a tad more aware as a blocker. Had limited opportunities as a receiver. Wasn’t given many opportunities as a pass protector in passing situations.

Grade: 6.0

Games watched: Louisville 2015, Louisville 2016, North Carolina 2016, Miami (Fla.) 2016, Florida 2016, Highlight reel 2015-2016

OTHERS TO WATCH

Alex Armah, West Georgia; Algernon Brown, Brigham Young; Marquez Williams, Miami (Fla.).

GRADING SCALE

7.5-7.1: Top 10 pick

7.0: picks 11-20

6.9: 21-32

6.8: Top half of the second round

6.7: Bottom half of the second

6.6: Top half of the third

6.5: Bottom half of the third

6.4: Fourth-round pick

6.3: Fifth-round pick

6.2: Sixth-round pick

6.1: Seventh-round pick

6.0: Priority free agent

5.9: Non-prospect

2017 NFL DRAFT PREVIEW: FULLBACKS

Chiefs’ need at this position: Low. Anthony Sherman is entering the final year of his deal, but he took a paycut to stay a month ago and should make the roster. Sherman, 28, is a core special teams player and someone who could probably stand to be used more on offense, so it would make sense if he returns beyond this year. Someone like Virginia Tech’s Sam Rogers looks like a nice fit for the Chiefs, but if they don’t select him expect the Chiefs to bring in an undrafted rookie free agent - or some young player - to potentially groom for down the road in case Sherman isn’t a Chief beyond 2017.

QB: With no consensus on draft’s top QB, Chiefs could have plenty to choose from | rankings

RB: Chiefs could draft big-play threat from loaded crop of running backs | rankings

FB: Chiefs try Lindenwood’s Connor Harris at fullback during local pro day | rankings

WR: Story | rankings, to come

TE: Mizzou’s Sean Culkin eager to prove he can do more in the pros | rankings

OL: Story | rankings, to come

DL: Story | rankings, to come

EDGE: Story | rankings, to come

ILB: Story | rankings, to come

CB: Story | rankings, to come

S: Story | rankings, to come

The Terez A. Paylor All-Juice Team: 2017 (to come) | 2016 | 2015

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