2014 NFL Draft profile: Ka'Deem Carey goes from top RB to sleeper

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey produced in college and looked like one of the best running backs in the 2014 NFL Draft until he hit the combine.

Ka'Deem Carey's final game of his career saw him square off in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl against Boston College's Andre Williams, the nation's leading rusher whose Doak Walker Award may or may not have stung Arizona's junior running back. So when Williams rushed for 75 yards while Carey rung up 165 and two touchdowns in his final game for Arizona, it was an unsurprising win that paralleled what the running back's legacy would be by the time he left Tucson.

This is what Carey's profile looked like as he decided to forego his senior year and enter the 2014 NFL Draft.

So much has changed since the end of the season.

Carey has slipped down the draft boards and out of the picture for many. An ugly performance in the NFL Combine started his slide, but there are other fair issues to consider as he awaits the draft. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Bob McGinn polled 18 NFL national scouts about their running back choices, and Carey was only the 11th-best running back in an informal points system that went like so:

A first-place vote was worth five points, a second was worth four and so on.

Here were the point totals: Carlos Hyde, 72 (nine firsts); Jeremy Hill, 69 (seven firsts); Bishop Sankey, 43 (one first); Tre Mason, 35 (one first); Andre Williams, 13; Terrance West, 11; Devonta Freeman, 10; Charles Sims, seven; Storm Johnson, five; Lache Seastrunk, three; and Ka'Deem Carey, two.

Once considered a top-5 back at worst, Carey could be facing a Day 3 draft selection. But now that has many experts calling him a sleeper.

Durability

One of the biggest questions about Carey before his sophomore season was answered in a tremendous way over the last two years. At 5'9 and 207 pounds, he's not a big back but by setting some Arizona records, it's become clear he was more than durable. Of course this could be twisted into concerns over his college workload, but here are some record-setting numbers to know:

Career: 22 100-yard rushing games (16 consecutive), 20.6 rush attempts per game, 117.8 rushing yards per game

Single Season: 349 rush attempts (2013), 6.37 average yards per rush (2012), 375 all-purpose plays (2013)

Single Game: 49 all-purpose plays (2013 vs. Oregon), 48 rush attempts (2013 vs. Oregon)

'Running angry'

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez couldn't deviate from using the "running angry" description of Carey's running style -- it's probably the most accurate phrase. Carey explained that label further to FoxSports.com:

"I feel like if you want to tackle me, you're trying to hurt me," Carey said. "I'm not going to avoid you and let you off easy. I'm going to make you pay. I turn into a beast when I put that helmet on. And if you try to get me high, then I'll hit them with a juke move and it's six, too. I like to switch it up on people."

Carey was a true go-to back when the Wildcats needed to burn the clock to get into their offense. Consider that Carey put up the season he did in 2013 with a quarterback whose arm didn't earn him any Division-I offers, and it tells the tale.

Carey has vision and patience, but his best attribute is getting yards after first contact. His upright running style might hurt him if he's hit at the line of scrimmage, but once he gets trucking and can lower his shoulder with a bit of speed, he was always falling forward -- be it from his patented spin move with contact or otherwise.

The top-speed concern

The 40-yard dash time of 4.7 seconds has set Carey back more than anything. It's a fair concern, especially when a slow running back is weighing in at less than 210 pounds.

Whatever the difference is between running in pads and not, Carey did have a few breakaway runs during his 2012 season, but with defenses hardly worried about Arizona tossing the ball down the field in 2013, there wasn't much opportunity for Carey -- even if he were fast -- to break any big plays this past season.

NFL.com's Bucky Brooks lays out why a team might draft Carey despite his 40-yard dash times.

He lacks the speed, explosion and burst to score from anywhere on the field despite having a number of 20- and 40-plus-yard runs on his resume at Arizona. Although skeptics of Carey's game frequently cite his top-end speed as a major concern, it is important to note that the Matt Forte and C.J. Spiller tied for the league-lead with four runs of 40-plus yards (Alfred Morris led the NFL with 10 20-plus yard runs). Thus, Carey's home-run speed shouldn't weigh heavily in the evaluation because of the lack of big runs that actually occur in pro games.

The character concerns

Before his junior season, Carey was involved in a domestic dispute with his ex-girlfriend that ended with the charges dropped. Carey soon after that was kicked out of an Arizona basketball game. Those concerns from NFL teams speak for themselves.

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