NFL Draft Analysis: Tyrell Sutton, RB, Northwestern Wildcats

by John Kotch Jr. on April 17, 2009 @ 01:00:00 PDT


Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton may be small, but his toughness and productivity can't be denied. In four years with the Wildcats, Sutton compiled 3,886 rushing yards on 731 carries with 31 touchdowns, an impressive 5.3 yards-per-carry average. He has also proved a very effective receiver, leaving NU with 149 career receptions for 1,244 yards.

Sutton gained honorable mention All-Big Ten by the conference coaches in 2008 despite missing the final four games with a broken left wrist. As a junior, he played just seven games before spraining his right ankle, but Sutton still managed to be a candidate for the Doak Walker Award (nation's best running back).

A high-risk/high-reward player, Sutton is an intriguing prospect. Chalking up the injuries to bad luck, his high productivity, toughness and versatility give him tremendous upside. The NFL team that ends up with Sutton could find themselves with incredible value. Sutton himself looks at the situation realistically, saying that drafted or undrafted, his goal is to just get to an NFL minicamp for a chance to show what he can do. He's confident that his abilities will land him a roster spot.


  • Tough runner for his size (can run between the tackles)
  • Low center of gravity gives him great balance
  • Great hands as a receiver (has experience lining up at wide receiver)
  • Quickness and agility 
  • Can return punts
  • Aggressive pass blocker


  • Undersized (5-foot-8, 211 pounds)
  • Durability issues
  • Lacks breakaway speed (4.64 and 4.67 seconds in the 40-yard dash)
  • Does not have the upper-body strength to sustain blocks
  • Has had some ball security issues
  • Played in a spread offense

Expected draft placement

In the upcoming NFL Draft, its unlikely Sutton will be chosen higher than Round 6. Due to the injury concerns, his status could fall to that of a high-priority free agent. He projects at the NFL level mainly as a third-down or situational back.

Teams that might be interested in Sutton at this point in the draft or as a free agent include the Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills, but most any team could be a suitor this late in the draft.

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About John Kotch Jr.

John Kotch Jr. has been a KFFL contributing writer since 2007.

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