Discussion in 'Draft Day Zone' started by Hostile, Apr 21, 2005.
Bills select...Lionel Gates RB Louisville
Strengths: Is a powerful runner with a good combination of size and strength. He has good initial burst to the hole and adequate speed for his size. Shows good vision and patience. Runs with good pad level and shows adequate initial power at the POA. Is a straight-line runner that is at his best when running downhill. He finds his hole, is very decisive and will not dance much in the backfield. He has adequate hands and is reliable in the short-passing game. Has the size and strength to hold up at the POA when he is in position as a pass blocker.
Weaknesses: Doesn't have any special qualities. Is a solid all-around back but lacks explosiveness. Has marginal top-end speed. Is a little bit too straight-lined and seems to have just one-speed. Lacks a second gear when he gets into the open field. He doesn't run by many defenders and he won't make many miss. He never has established himself as the "bell-cow" at Louisville. He is just decent in pass protection and needs to improve his awareness vs. the blitz. Also, while he has good hands and feel in the passing game, he's not an explosive threat after the catch. Had some durability issues in 2003 and 2004. Also had some fumbling problems earlier in his career.
Overall: Gates really split carries throughout his career at Louisville. He was a backup much of his sophomore season in 2002 and, while he did lead the Cardinal's in rushing with 817 yards on 141 carries as a junior in 2003, he still split caries with Eric Shelton. The situation wasn't any different for Gates as a senior in '04, as he has continued to split carries with Shelton and Michael Bush, finishing with 373 yards and seven TD's on 76 carries. He also had 71 yards and two TD's on 10 receptions. Gates missed three games because of injury as a senior, two of which were due to a knee injury at the end of the season. Gates has good size, adequate initial burst and is a solid north-south runner. He also has reliable hands and the potential to develop into a solid blocker in the passing game. However, his lack of explosiveness and elusiveness as a runner really limits his NFL potential. His durability issues and minor fumbling problems are also red flags. Overall, Gates has a chance to make it in the NFL as a change of pace backup that can provide some tough carries and also contribute on special teams, but he's too slow and has too many question marks to draft any higher than the middle rounds.
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