Sean Tucker: The Underrated 2023 RB
On the second episode of Devy Talk with my co-host Chance, I discussed Sean Tucker. I felt like the community deserved more of a breakdown on Tucker and his skillset so I decided to do my first devy profile on one of my favorite values in devy leagues for the 2022 season. Let me jump in on why Sean Tucker is a guy I want on my team regardless of the format of fantasy football.
Sean Tucker will be entering his 3rd year as a true Junior at Syracuse. He is listed at 5’10” and 210 lbs which is great metrics for my preference on guys I target with workhorse potential in the NFL. That number may be a little high as recruiting websites listed him around low 190 pounds from his high school senior year but expect that to be reasonably close. When looking at the other notable running backs for the 2023 class, he has a chance to be one of the two or three bigger backs ahead of Gibbs, Bigsby, and possibly Evans. A very common theme for Tucker is how talented he is with his skill on the football field and track throughout high school and college. Coming out of high school, Tucker won the Maryland state title in the 55-meter dash for two consecutive years. He competed mostly anywhere from 55m to 300m so mostly focusing on events that used his explosiveness to maintain top-end sprint speed as long as possible. In particular, the 55-meter times as a high school senior was averaging 6.5 seconds which shows he should test well at the combine in the 40-yard dash and other explosive field exercises. Even so, Tucker was considered a 3-star athlete by the recruiting websites with major offers to Notre Dame and Syracuse among five total offers.
First, let me include the raw stats on how Tucker did in his first two years at Syracuse. We see the number of games and how he did in both the rushing and receiving categories.
(Photo Credit: CFB Reference)
Now let me add some context to the numbers. In 2020, as an incoming freshman dealing with a country going into strict Covid protocols, Sean Tucker took over the starting role four games into the season and was one of the few bright spots as the team went 1-10 on the season. His rushing yardage was third-most in school history for freshmen and fourth-most among all 2020 freshmen backs. His yardage also came behind the 119th best run-blocking line so it truly was him making the most with his talent. Being an effective receiver based on the stats is also a plus for him when it comes to workhorse potential.
In 2021 we see the giant jump in production from Sean Tucker also come with some better run-blocking as the team ranked 112th in the country (note my sarcasm). Tucker was literally out here making teams look crazy with very little help from the team. In fact, he has more rushing yardage than the team’s leading passing yardage from a 2021 Syracuse quarterback. For league context, he was 4th in the whole country just with the amount of rushing yardage he had with two guys ahead of him declaring for the 2022 draft. Also, it seems like 100 yards rushing is a sign of being a major factor in most offenses; Tucker was able to do it 4 of 9 games in 2020 and 9 of 12 games in 2021. Not a bad performance when the team has had a schedule that ranked 50th and 49th over the past two seasons in Strength of Schedule. His efficiency will also need to be observed when comparing his potential.
Digging into more efficiency stats continues to help paint the picture of how impressive he truly was. He was able to create a lot of yardage even after contact which is a plus for a team with a poor blocking scheme and able to improve to a 5-7 record. His 1014 yards after contact was second in the country behind Kenneth Walker III. For avoided tackles, Tucker was tied for 7th behind guys that are highly respected as good NFL prospects with Walker, Bijan, Hall, Charbonnet, Allgeier, and Jaylen Warren. For reference every single one of those offenses had linemen rated 60th or better in run blocking though. Tucker’s 44 10+ yard runs were 4th in the nation as well, continuing to showcase just how explosive he can be if in a better system. Breaking that down to 15+ yard runs pushes him up behind only Walker as he tied for 2nd with 24 big runs. The last part I want to include is I went over to C2C and pulled up the dominator rating comparing Sean Tucker against some of the bigger names of the 2021-2023 draft classes. Remember the dominator rating for running backs is the percent of total offensive production that these backs are involved in for both the running and passing game. Sean Tucker is standing out so it will be fun to see if he can continue in year 3.
We know analytics is supposed to support the film so let’s look to see if it supports the profile.
First up on film, I want to note that most of Tucker’s targets and catches I could find were RB screens. However, I did come across this beauty from his freshman year where we see the QB hit him in the stride as he quickly catches the pass before securing it while protecting himself with the tackle. For now, his sample size is small, but he should be good enough for most simple work out of the backfield on swing routes and screens
Our next two videos showcase some of the speed I was referencing in translation to the football field. In the first clip, we see a simple HB pitch to the outside. The outside backer sees this and immediately starts to close off his outside to create a vice tackle with the pursuing inside backer and defensive end. However, Tucker is able to barely adjust his angle and shows that he can outrun them. In the second clip, we see a moment where the line engages their blocks correctly for just a moment and Sean explodes through on his way untouched to a TD.
Next up is a great blend of vision and speed. We see the LB at the top of the screen diagnose the run and commit to beating Tucker to the hole. With the last-second move, Tucker avoids the guy who was in a full sprint to only see Tucker readjust to find the open gap left behind by the LB and other defenders for a nice 17-yard chuck gain. In a similar situation, Tucker sees the defense over-pursuing to his left side with an easy cutback to the right so he makes the move while quickly accelerating for about a 12 yard gain.
The last aspect I wanted to showcase was Tucker’s ability to avoid tacklers. His speed and ability to change direction were on full display with these two particular plays. Defenders in college and at the NFL level will have to do a good job of wrapping him up instead of arm tackling.
To summarize everything, Tucker is on pace to hit every metric we want to see in RB prospects as they declare for the NFL. He started from his freshman year being a major weapon for Syracuse and led to consistent production with each touch and season totals. His weight and speed testing should also lead to successes for that profile so the last ultimate question will depend on whether he gets day 1 or 2 draft capital. Considering Bijan Robinson and probably Jahmyrr Gibbs, Tucker has a true chance to be fighting for the RB3 spot against Zach Evans and Tank Bigsby of the 2023 draft. Get to know the name Sean Tucker as I expect his production to remain high as a junior with the new OC Robert Anae for his team who just helped Virginia earn a top 3 ranking in 2021. This dual-threat running back is only going to help show how talented the 2023 rookie class will be.