In our Scouting Reports, we will give you a quick debrief to get you the information you need to know. We’ll also take it a step further and provide an in-depth review showing off examples of what we like, and what we don’t. Included is a date from the initial scouting report, this is so new notes can be added as the year goes on. Those new notes will be dated as well. With that, welcome to the Sean Tucker scouting report!
If you’d like to see more, below are all the completed scouting reports for this season:
|Will Levis||Tank Bigsby||Jordan Addison||TBD|
|Spencer Rattler* (2024)||Sean Tucker||Quentin Johnston|
|Anthony Richardson||Zach Charbonnet||Jaxon Smith-Njigba|
|Michael Penix Jr.* (2024)||Blake Corum* (2024)||Jalin Hyatt|
Playing for Syracuse nowadays means your name may not be the first to come to mind when talking about college prospects. Sean Tucker may change that this year. Tucker rose in analysts’ ranks by ripping off chunk gains weekly. He helped take the Orange from one win in 2020 to five wins in 2021, and hopefully more in 2022.
Date: 09.13.2022 | Update: 10.24.2022
Details: Sean Tucker | RB | Syracuse #34
DOB: 10.25.2001 | 21 years old
H/W: 5’ 9” | 207 lbs
NFL Combine results (updated 03.06.2023):
40-yd dash: N/A
10-yd split: N/A
Vertical jump: N/A
Broad jump: N/A
NFL Draft Projection (updated 03.06.2023):
2nd to 4th Round Pick – Tucker has the athletic profile to be a high pick, and has an added pass catching repertoire shown weekly in 2022. He still occasionally shows poor decision making and hits the hole too upright. However, his excellent burst, speed, hands, position flexibility, and open-field talent should see him drafted in the second or third round…no later than the fourth. With his track background, he probably could have helped his draft stock during the NFL Combine, had he participated. Unfortunately, he opted not to participate, leaving only question marks until his Pro Day.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – 1QB (updated 03.06.2023):
Mid to Late 1st Round Pick – I’ve seen a bit of improvement in Tucker’s game through 2022, which can be seen through Syracuse’s record, that would suggest Tucker self scouts and makes efforts to refine his game. Despite a few flaws, Tucker should be a decent draft pick given his running talents and receiving ability. He should be a solid pick during rookie drafts as well. A perfect landing spot could push him as high as 1.04, though poor draft capital or a bad landing spot could knock him as low as 1.12.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – Superflex/2QB (updated 03.06.2023):
Mid 1st to Mid 2nd Round Pick – Two-to-four quarterbacks will be going early in SF/2QB drafts which would push Tucker down a bit. Even with a less-than-ideal situation, he likely won’t slip too far into the second round.
Sean Tucker is a gifted runner. He shows up to the field with an outstanding first and second gear, incredible stop/start/redirect ability, and he flies in the open field. He’s got good long speed which help him turn simple plays into chunk gains with regularity.
I really like his feet too. He naturally keeps his hips and feet low and ready to reset, allowing him to change directions quickly. This allows him to adjust quickly when he sees a lane open up.
His ability in the open field is great. This has been cause for Syracuse to flex him out wide regularly, and he’s run a number of different routes both from the backfield and while flexed out. This gives Tucker solid position flexibility and keeps him on the field on nearly every play.
One of the best things I saw was consistency in covering the ball through contact. It seems second nature to him, showing excellent ball security. Having said that, he does have a few fumbles to his name.
However, I found myself writing critiques almost as often as I’d write positives. His inconsistency from one play to the next caught me by surprise.
Tucker doesn’t always show the patience to let his blocks develop. Worse, he often looks to avoid navigating even light traffic at the line. From the games I watched, he seems to prefer the opportunities of an open field over the protection of his blockers.
This doesn’t feel like a vision issue. It looks like he sees the crease but chooses not to hit it. I’m hopeful that it’s coachable, but it happened often enough to cause concern. He just won’t see the same type of lanes in the NFL; they’ll be creases at best, and they won’t be open long enough for him to hesitate.
At 205 lbs, he’s sturdy but he’s not a power back. He typically runs strong behind his pads, allowing him to get through contact with extra yards. However, I noted a few times where he heads into traffic too upright, resulting in an easier take down.
Balance was typically good, though he would occasionally get redirected or even taken down from a seemingly innocuous glancing blow. I’d like to see him absorb contact better and more consistently.
He was trusted to pass block often, though he wasn’t very good. Mediocre angles and poor reaction time often leave him blocking air. He looks significantly better as an outlet receiver, showing pretty good hands, and outright shining when in the open field.
Tucker has certainly shown potential, and he’s got incredible production and highlights to prove it…but I’m not completely sold. More than any other, his issues with decision making won’t fly at the next level. Until he can pair his athleticism with improved patience and better decision making, I can’t comfortably put him with the big dogs of this draft class, but he’s soundly in the next tier.
Update – 10.24.2022
Since putting this report together, I’ve had the opportunity to watch a few games from 2022. His pad level seems to be better than last year, however – for being fairly bulky and running behind his pads better – he still doesn’t show a ton of power.
I noticed a couple more seemingly poor decisions bouncing outside instead of churning through a slim – but blocked – lane. That said, it feels less common than when watching last year’s games. More often, he’s been decisive in attacking downhill when the opportunity is there.
These improvements are great, though the biggest improvement may be as a receiver. He’s not just a checkdown or occasional screen guy anymore, he’s showing to be a genuine asset as a receiver this year. I’ve noticed a bit more variety of routes and some nice catches in 2022.
Give that he’s improved on the issues noted from watching his games in 2021, and given that he’s showing his receiving chops, I’m comfortable saying he’s rising a bit in my rankings and have updated this brief and my projections accordingly.
We kick things off early in the Syracuse game against Ohio. ‘Cuse has the ball at Ohio’s 10 yard line with only a couple yards left to reset the down marker. Cue the handoff to Tucker.
The play looks like a Duo run call with the defense hard slanting to their left. The backside tight end seems to get confused from the slant and doesn’t identify his block, but Tucker is able to identify the gap to attack anyway.
In order to hit the hole as it opens up and not get stuck in the trash, Tucker takes a quick timing step after handoff before bursting hard inside his tight end.
It’s the right read, and he shows patience and timing to let it open up, but unfortunately the tight end misses the block. The defender gets enough of a shot on Tucker’s thigh that he loses balance and tumbles forward after picking up the first down.
I like this run because it shows some of the positives and negatives of Tucker’s (surprisingly inconsistent) game.
Here, Tucker shows nice vision and makes a great read and decision. He knows he’s going to have a lane off the tight end, and he shows great patience to allow it to open up, and great timing when he hits it.
He also shows great burst. Once he plants his foot, Tucker shoots forward through the gap with surprising quickness.
Unfortunately, Tucker also goes down from a glancing blow to the thigh. There are times when he churns through tackles without issue, and there are times he goes down much easier than you’d expect.
While the above video was a nice example of Tucker’s decisiveness and willingness to get north/south, unfortunately that’s not always the case. He’s just as likely to bounce it outside as he is to press it forward.
This is another run from later in the Ohio game. Syracuse is running zone against Cover-3. The 3tech shoots his gap hard, and the left guard gave a weak push to the center. Consequently, the center is struggling to maintain control. But from here, Tucker identifies the lane he’s going to.
The left guard is now up to the second level while the tackle and tight end get a phenomenal combo block on the edge – it’s an ideal situation with a slim crease to bang it through. Unfortunately, Tucker doesn’t show the one-cut and burst you want to see from a zone run.
Tucker spots the defensive tackle – who the center is still working – and hesitates before changing his mind. He bounces it outside, straight into the waiting arms of the safety.
He gets about three yards here which is a fine result, but the process of getting there just wasn’t good. We’ve seen Tucker isn’t afraid of contact, but he certainly wasn’t comfortable scraping his left tackles hip and driving for a few yards.
What it looks like to me is that Tucker avoids traffic. He’s not shy about contact, he can run behind his pads (though this is also inconsistent) and he can take it inside…but he regularly avoids traffic at the line.
Unfortunately, it’s a common enough scenario that it makes me concerned this is his “default” state of mind. A running back who avoids traffic is absolutely an issue, and something he will need to work on for this year.
Let’s look at one more. This next clip is against NC State, his left guard and left tackle pull behind the tight end, who grapples well with this edge player. When both linemen pull, the wolfpack linebacker spots a lane to shoot through and try to take Tucker down in the backfield.
Tucker sees this, sees a narrow lane available (the designed gap to attack), and still chooses to bounce it outside into space, once again avoiding traffic.
Imagine seeing the numbers on the backs of your blockers who completely seal off their assignments, and still choosing to take it outside.
Even if you want to make the argument that Tucker was concerned about the backer shooting the gap, fine…but the solution to that problem is to punch it forward, not to get deeper in the backfield.
This happened far too often to be a fluke occurrence and was the biggest issue I saw from Tucker. I really hope this upcoming season can showcase his ability to navigate line traffic, because he’s got many redeeming qualities to discuss.
One of those redeeming qualities, or positive traits, is his vision. Tucker shows the ability to maintain a wide field of view and see lanes as they present themselves. This only amplifies his poor decision making though, and one reason why it’s so frustrating to see him bypass opportunities.
Check this run against Albany for example. His initial aimpoint is to take it outside, but the 3tech plows into his gap well and takes the outside away. The frontside linebacker shoots to the edge too, providing a huge opportunity at the vacated second level.
On short notice, Tucker recognizes the leverage and makes an extremely sharp and fast cut, bursting past the nose tackle and surprising the lollygagging backside linebacker.
Tucker is able to get a full head of steam, which helps him to churn through the arm tackle and into the endzone. Runs like this show what Tucker is capable of when he spots a crease to attack, and actually chooses to burst through it.
His vision is solid, but Tucker’s most obvious positive is his immediate acceleration. When given an opportunity, he doesn’t just burst, he explodes. Like a greyhound coming out of the traps, he goes from nearly stationary to burning grass in two steps.
Our next clip comes from Syracuse at Notre Dame in 2020. Notre Dame sends both linebackers, ‘Cuse picks it up with a nice wham block by the H-back, clearing a gaping lane for Tucker to cruise through.
Watch Tucker’s initial hesitation at the mesh point, and how he’s practically static with his first step as he lets his blocks develop. It’s incredibly how much speed he picks up seemingly instantly.
His speed is so surprising that Kyle Hamilton (safety #14), 14th overall draft pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, got roasted like Grandma’s chicken.
Another thing to note is how slippery Tucker is in the open field. Between his speed and his ability to redirect, defenders aren’t able to get a good angle on him to bring him down. Once he’s through the second level, he’s as good as gone.
When the lane is big enough, he’s able to augment his burst with a great stop/start/redirect ability. And, if that wasn’t enough, his long speed makes an excellent complement. He shoots out of a cannon and is able to maintain that top gear in the open field.
One major factor in Tucker’s stat line is his chunk plays. Plays which pick up 15, 20, 35, 55+ yards are a major part of his repertoire, and that’s largely thanks to his athletic traits mentioned above.
This next play against Albany, we’ll see him threaten the edge, forcing the safety to overcommit outside. Tucker uses that to his advantage and cuts inside his left tackle’s block, exploding past the safety and down the field for a 55 yard touchdown run.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “How fast can Tucker be, he’s nearly chased down by the backside defensive end?”…it’s worth noting the name Jared Verse (edge #96). Verse left Albany for FSU, but received offers via the transfer portal from…basically everyone. He’s very likely to be an early first round pick, and we can see one reason why right here.
Despite his incredible burst, speed, and change of direction ability, I still have questions about Tucker’s overall skillset. It boils down to decision making and consistency.
There are zone runs where he stutters behind the line. There are gap runs where he avoids the play design. And there are skills which are typically necessary for success that he simply doesn’t apply on a regular basis.
For reference, I went back to my notes from the games I watched. I only noted his patience behind the line four times in four games. I wrote more notes than that about how he didn’t allow his blocks to develop.
I tracked another four anticipatory runs or runs where he presses a different gap than he attacks. Out of 74 total runs, I would have liked to see more. He’s much more of a read & react runner, which he’s very good at.
I did note running with good pad level a handful of times. In general I’d chalk this up in the positive column. Though this, too, wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked to see. He won’t get to play Albany, Ohio, or Rutgers every week in the NFL.
That is ultimately my second biggest knock on him; his lack of consistency in doing the little things. His previously mentioned unwillingness to navigate traffic being my biggest knock.
All that said, where I find Tucker absolutely shines is when he’s in the open field. Syracuse flexes him out wide fairly often, the best way to get him in space being through the air.
He’s shown good hands at times, but he’s not immune to drops. While there weren’t a ton of opportunities, I did see some catchable balls hit the dirt.
In the first clip we see an excellent catch while on the move. He shows outstanding focus watching this one into his hands without slowing in his route at all. Really outstanding catch here.
The second shows what he can do with the ball in his hands and space to move. He takes a screen pass to the house, setting his blockers up nicely and using his speed to stroll in to the endzone.
The third pass shows one of his misses. While not the best throw by his quarterback, it was certainly a catchable ball that just slipped through his hands.
Given Tucker’s ability in space and potential for a mismatch, I expect position flexibility to continue at the next level. Anything less would be a criminal underutilization of his skillset.
Another reason I expect Tucker will get flexed out is, simply put, he’s not a good pass blocker.
He typically gets his assignment right, he tends to block inside-out and seems willing to take on a big fella. He sets a wide base, but he never seems to square up.
It’s amusing how often defenders will simply run around him due to his poor blocking angles and slow reaction speed. Further, when he does square up, he gets pushed back easily.
Considering his open field ability, that he can make guys miss with speed and agility, and his outstanding athletic ability – I think teams will be looking to put him in space, even if poor pass blocking drops his draft stock a bit.
Unfortunately, I think teams will also notice his propensity to bounce it outside and his hesitation to hit tight lanes. As of today, I don’t foresee him getting taken on day one, and I think there’s a chance he slips past day two.
He could be a solid contributor for a team who will put him in a position to succeed. However, don’t be surprised if it takes a year or two before he really gets a shot. Guys like Austin Ekeler spend a few years bulking up and refining their craft before getting 14 touches/game. I can foresee a similar trajectory for Tucker.
Where is Tucker in your running back rankings? Drop a comment in the comment box below to let us know your thoughts!
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That guy who wraps up the #1 seed by week 13, dominates the points scored column, and gets blown out by the #8 seed in the first round of playoffs…annually. That’s Ben.
He’s also the guy who constructs a trade calculator for fun, and builds a fantasy football website when he wants to share his thoughts with the world.
As a Vikings fan and a poor golfer, Ben lives in a perpetual state of frustration. In his fun-time he’s a husband and proud father of two.