Northern Illinois Senior
His size allows him to sneak through creases and shows good burst to the hole. Also hard to get a square hit on him on the second level, allowing him to break some tackles. Has good quickness and has nice lateral burst and change of direction ability to bounce some plays outside. Runs hard for his size and plays with good pad level. Fights for extra yards and isn't afraid to lower shoulder and deliver hit to defensive back on his way out of bounds. Contributes in pass protection and can be effective chipping linemen.
Lacks ideal size and isn't a threat to break tackles against NFL-caliber defenders. Lacks burner speed to really be a consistent homerun threat. His footwork can get sloppy at times and limit his lateral burst.
Spann is more quick than fast, but a productive undersized rusher that might have a future as a change of pace back and third down specialist. He split carries as a sophomore and junior with Meco Brown, combining for 267 carries for 1467 yards (5.5 avg) and 27 touchdowns with 14 receptions. Then Brown left the program this past year, and Spann became the lead back. He responded with 258 carries for 1388 yards (5.4 avg) and 22 touchdowns and 9 catches.
Spann doesn't wow you, but he's a good back that if he can improve in the passing game could land a job as a No. 3 back in the league. He'll have to perform on special teams, and he could be an OK kickoff returner if need be. He wasn't used a lot in the passing game during his career at NIU, and he's not quite big enough to be great in pass protection. But improvements there should definitely increase his chances of sticking. He's not a burner, but has good quickness and has good power packed into his small frame. Ideally, the type of player you're hoping he grows into is someone like a Mewelde Moore, who is a nice third down option, but not someone you want to trust with more than a handful of touches per game. But the only way that happens if he makes significant improvements in the passing game. And as such, Spann is one of those players that is going to have trouble sticking right away. But if he lands on a practice squad for a year or two, and continues to develop his game, I could see him fitting as a journeyman backup three or so years down the road.
Spann is similar to Antone Smith, and as such could potentially make a serviceable No. 3 running back if the Falcons were in a pinch. He could make the practice squad right away with a good summer, and potentially land the No. 3 job a year or so down the road. The team will like his toughness and quickness, but he doesn't have a ton of upside to be more than a guy that gets at most 2-3 carries a game in the Falcons offense. So eventually, the team would seek to upgrade with a better player.
Spann isn't really worth drafting because he's not a strong bet to make the roster right away and fill a niche. But bring him to camp and see if he can push a guy.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Scouting reports of the running backs and fullbacks in the 2011 Draft.
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