Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia

Scouting reports of the running backs and fullbacks in the 2011 Draft.
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Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia

Postby Pudge » Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:03 am

West Virginia Senior
40: 4.30e


Has dangerous speed and acceleration that can be a threat to score everytime he gets the ball. Dangerous in space because of his burst and change of direction, and ability to run past every defender. Quick through hole, and is hard to locate in the backfield because of he can hide behind blockers. A very good north-south runner that when he can square his shoulders, it's over. Hard to get a square hit of him because his small frame and his speed. Flashes toughness considering his size, with a nice stiff arm and will fight for extra yards on occasion, especially when he smells the goalline. Has good balance and has a very good jump cut to press the hole and bounce plays outside. Gives effort in pass protection and effective chipping a defender. Can adjust to the throw in the flat and is a good outlet receiver because he shines on screens and after the catch. Can also line up in the slot.


Undersized and durability is going to be a major concern. Can be tentative about contact at times. Not a threat to break many tackles as he can get dragged down by arm tackles. Ball security has been an issue at times because a good pop can do its damage. Tends to dance too much looking for the homerun. Tries to bounce things outside a bit too much which can lead to losses of yardage. Needs to do a better job taking what's given to him, and doesn't seem to show great vision. Is not super shifty and is not going to set up defenders on the 2nd level. At times will stop to gather his feet when trying to change direction in the open field. Doesn't show great hands and will body catch. Limited in pass protection due to his lack of size and mostly used to chip and will blow some assignments.


Devine was an explosive playmaker for WVU's offense, but was slowed this year by a toe injury (I think it's similar to the one that slowed LT during the end of his SD career). He seemed to get better as the season wore on. His production from his best year as a junior where he had 1465 yards (6.1 avg), 13 TDs, and 22 receptions to 934-4.5-6-34 as a senior. Also had a strong sophomore year (1289-6.3-4-35). He only returned 12 kickoffs the past three years since he's been their go-to running back, but did get used more in that role as a freshman. For his career, he had 31 kickoff returns for a 21.6 average. Was listed at a playing weight between 175-180 the past two years, so his 160 pounds at the Senior Bowl was surprising to many. He'll have to bulk back up to that 180 range.


Devine is going to be a situational player. It's easy to compare him to Warrick Dunn because of their similar size, but he's more like Darren Sproles in terms of what he can do as an NFL player. That means his primary value will be on special teams and third down back. But you don't like the lack of production as a return threat at WVU, and if he cannot produce in that realm in the pros, his chances of sticking long-term are severely limited. He adds some value on offense, but he's not going to be a guy that can consistently get more than 3-5 carries per game. He could handle more, but he's so one-dimensional that you're not going to feel like he should get more. Other than pitches, draws, and the stretch play, there aren't a ton of running plays that he can be effective on because of his lack of size. Now he could occasionally break one of those for a big run. But his main value on offense will be as a receiving option and he's a guy that like Sproles can be a guy that can give you 40+ receptions in a season. And he can be valuable there because you can line him up in the slot at times and use him on screens. But he doesn't have great hands and he'll be very limited in pass protection, so any hopes of him being another Reggie Bush with his ability to create mismatches is probably being a bit too optimistic. Again, he'll have to shine on special teams as a kickoff returner. Sproles stuck around early on because of his contributions there. Devine has the explosive speed to be a very good kickoff returner because of his long speed and acceleration, and I think once he gets to the league and realizes he'll be limited early on to solely those duties, then he'll commit to getting better there.


Devine is more explosive, but basically fills the same niche that Norwood does. He may have better top speed, but just like Norwood has been over the years, he'll be limited by what type of running plays he can get his number called on, and there are serious concerns about durability just like there are with Norwood. Norwood is going to be a better blocker on third downs and is a more natural receiver. Devine would not be a good fit in Atlanta, not unless there was some significant changes to the offensive scheme, which would include a lot more screens. That and special teams would be his main value, but it remains to be seen if he would beat Weems out for the kickoff job. He has better top-end speed and would be a better threat to take it the distance, but the question would be whether he would be reliable enough and still manage to get good field position even when he doesn't break the 99-yard gain.


For a team looking for a Sproles-type situational back and trusts in his ability as a kickoff returner, he's probably worth a fourth round pick. But because of his limited usage on offense and he's not a slam dunk as a return specialist, a team might be better off waiting until the fifth round.

1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

Speed: 5.0
Power: 1.0
Agility: 3.0
Vision: 2.0
Hands: 2.5
Blocking: 1.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.

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