Draft Analysis: Justin Forsett, RB, California Golden Bears

by Richard Garcia on April 23, 2008 @ 14:20:13 PDT


Former University of California-Berkeley running back Justin Forsett finished his final two years of high school football by leading Grace Prep Academy in Arlington, Texas, to back-to-back state championships. The dynamic back rushed for 4,925 yards and 63 touchdowns in his final two seasons. Forsett and his family believed that after a visit from Notre Dame running backs coach Buzz Preston a scholarship would be waiting for him. However, after Notre Dame decided they didn't need him, Forsett instead made his way to Cal, where he complemented running backs J.J. Arrington and Marshawn Lynch in his first three years with the Golden Bears.

In Forsett's first season, Arrington rushed for the most single-season yards in school history (2,018). Lynch followed that up by registering the third as a sophomore and fourth as a junior on the Bears' single-season rushing list. During his first three years, however, Forsett managed to tally 1,674 rushing yards, including running for a 7.6 yards-per-carry average during his sophomore season. That figure was second in the nation to Heisman Trophy winner and current New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush for rushers with qualifying statistics.

Forsett would finish his Cal career ranked third on the school's all-time list in rushing yards (3,220) and tied for second in career 100-yard games (15) despite starting only 17 games. He recorded a Pac-10-leading 15 touchdowns in his senior season while running for 1,546 yards and setting the Cal school record for rushing attempts (305). Forsett was honored as a member of the All-Pac-10 Conference first team and a candidate for the Doak Walker Award, presented to the nation's top running back.


Forsett lacks ideal size (5-foot-8, 194 pounds) for a running back, but he has a well-defined upper body, large hands and thick calves. He has a hard running style along with impressive open-field speed, body control, change-of-direction agility and hand-eye coordination. He excels at bouncing outside when inside holes are clogged.

Scouts have questioned whether his size could put him at greater risk for injury than the bigger backs in the draft, but Forsett has never missed a game due to injury. He also showed his strength by posting an impressive 26 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press, placing him in a tie for fourth among running backs.

Forsett measured in at the NFL Scouting Combine but saved his running for Cal's Pro Day March 11. He ran well and recorded at 40 time of 4.62. Forsett works hard to finish blocks and has good blitz pickup ability. He is a student of the game and takes pride in preparing for game day.


Forsett lacks the ideal bulk and size that teams need from an every-down tailback. He has shorter than ideal arms and lacks an explosive burst to overcome second-level defenders. He needs to take better angles when running the ball, because he often is caught from behind.

He has little experience as a receiver, catching only 41 passes in his college career. He possesses average hands and lacks the leaping ability to compete for jump balls. He isn't overly successful when running between the tackles and is quickly absorbed when attempting to attack the inside lanes. He must do a better job of driving hard with his legs to push the pile. Forsett has minimal special teams experience and had only 10 kickoff returns in his Cal career.

Expected Draft Placement

Forsett has been compared to Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew. However, besides the obvious size comparisons - Jones-Drew is 5-foot-7, 212 pounds - Forsett isn't expected to be selected in the second round, which is where Jones-Drew was selected in 2006. Forsett has made it known that the Philadelphia Eagles have shown the most interest of any team that he has interviewed with. Forsett could be a scatback for several other teams, including the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans. He would be an ideal pickup in the sixth round, but he could go in the late fourth round on the high end or as late as the early seventh.

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About Richard Garcia

Garcia served as a managing editor for KFFL. Prior to his time with KFFL, Richard worked in managerial roles with both Frito-Lay Inc. and UPS. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in public relations from California State Polytechnic University-Pomona and fulfilled his internship requirements with the Los Angeles Kings Hockey organization in 2001.

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