PROS: Has game-breaking speed and acceleration that is a threat to take it the distance every time he touches it. Quick and shifty and dangerous in open field. Makes defenders miss and easily weaves through traffic. Has good vision as a runner. Runs hard and tough for his size, and won't shy away from contact. Has good hands and does a nice job catching the ball in the flat. Has potential to excel as a return specialist.
CONS: Undersized and needs to get stronger. Needs to improve in pass protection as he's not very effective when he tries to cut or chip a pass rusher.
OVERVIEW: Was Ole Miss's best option the past two years, especially when he worked in the wildcat. Is a bit of a tweener at running back and wide receiver, although he's a more natural runner. They moved him permanently to wide receiver this year, but he didn't really take to the position as a slot option. Had best year as a rusher this year with 181 carries for 1169 yards (6.5 avg) and 8 touchdowns. Had 44 catches in each of the past two years with 4 combined scores. Only returned 8 punts and 19 kickoffs in his career.
NFL FORECAST: If he expects to be a consistent option as a running back, he's going to have to bulk up and probably get up to around 185 or so pounds, which is about the same size that Warrick Dunn was when he played, and about the minimum build one could look for in an NFL runner. Otherwise, he'll just be a situational player. I think he can work as an NFL runner. He won't be a guy that gets consistently more than 10 carries a game, but in those reps he can provide big play potential. He can play both running back and receiver, working in the slot, creating mismatches for teams. And he should be able to make significant contributions as a return specialist. He has the ability to an explosive third down back if he can bulk up and improve his blocking. His ability to run the wildcat will also make him an asset. Teams should consider him to be a slash player because you can plug him into a variety of roles and he should provide big plays.
ATL FORECAST: McCluster could challenge Norwood for third down duties, although I don't think his blocking is up to a level where he can be expected to take that gig from him as a rookie. But if he shows progress, he should be able to land the full-time third down role in Atlanta by his second year or third year at the latest. He would be a nice option for the Falcons because of his versatility to run screens, reverses, and work both in the backfield and slot. He basically combines what Norwood and Eric Weems do in the same player. But like Norwood, he could struggle with durability issues, making it so that he is viewed as a return specialist first and an offensive weapon a distant second.
VALUE: McCluster's ability purely as a change of pace situational player is worth only a late third round pick at best. But his return potential bump him up to a nice late second rounder.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average,4-very good, 5-elite
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.