Not many people thought Qadree Ollison had a career in football beyond his senior season at Pitt.
After starting off strong rushing for over 1,100 yards and winning the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year, Ollison’s productivity was limited during his sophomore and junior seasons. However, after rushing for over 1,200 yards this past season, Ollison is back on the radar of NFL teams.
That was confirmed last week when he was the only Pitt senior invited to attend the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on February 26.
That’s encouraging news for Ollison (6’2″, 225) after he wasn’t able to participate in either the East-West Shrine Game or the Senior Bowl so that he could continue to rehab the ankle that he injured in the ACC Championship Game. Ollison is reportedly training in Fort Lauderdale and is said to be completely healed from the injury.
The question now is will Ollison add his name to the long list of former Pitt running backs in the NFL? This morning, Pittsburgh Sports Now had the chance to talk with Jon Ledyard, the Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network.
“As far as his draft stock goes, Qadree Ollison isn’t a player that’s probably going to kill the combine or anything but hopefully he can do a little better than expected,” Ledyard told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “Running back is kind of a weird position because his draft spot could be dependent on how other players impress teams. If a couple of guys go high and a lot of teams feel that they can get backs in later rounds. Most people expect Ollison to be a Day 3 pick anyway but where he lands on Day 3 could depend on where the group ahead of him go. If teams feel that they’ve filled their need with backs, he might not go till the 6th, 7th round or maybe go undrafted.”
That being said, to get invited to the combine, Ollison had to do something during the season that opened the eyes of NFL executives.
“I think the biggest thing that he did was go out during the regular season and dominate for Pitt and looked really, really good this season,” said Ledyard. “His draft stock was basically non-existent coming into the year. The numbers that he put up during his sophomore and junior season, he wasn’t a factor at all. For him to bounce back as big as he did and honestly, I feel he played his best in their biggest games, I think that was just huge for his stock.”
“For me, Ollison has now built this bit of momentum for himself and now it’s about maintaining that enough so that it doesn’t fall off because I don’t believe you’re going to see Qadree Ollison as a big pre-draft winner but if he does a little bit better than expected or as expected in the combine and keeps checking boxes for teams, I definitely feel he’ll be in the conversation for getting himself drafted.”
After watching his film and talking to NFL teams, I asked Ledyard what part of Ollison’s game will get him drafted and to have a career in the NFL?
“His strength as a runner, he’s both physical and powerful,” said Ledyard. “Some guys are physical but, like Bennie Snell from Kentucky, he’s a guy that’s physical and loves contact but I don’t believe he breaks tackles super well. He won’t back down from people but he’s not particularly impactful as far as breaking tackles. Where as with Ollison I think he really is.”
“He can break tackles and can shed guys and guys will bounce off of his thighs and upper-body. I love that strength combined with his physicality. I think contact balance is one of the biggest traits that you can have as a running back. I also think that he has a little bit of juice and has a better burst than you’d expect. Has a second gear in the open field that you really don’t see from backs as big as he is.”
“The limitations are he’s not a great player in space, he doesn’t have top-tier allusiveness and isn’t going to make people miss most of the time,” said Ledyard. “I think he needs to show something during the pass catching drills. The other nice thing about Ollison is that he will pass protect and I think teams will be happy about that. How quick he picks that stuff up mentally will be big for teams. They want guys that can contribute early in that sense. Most college backs cannot (pass protect) but it appears from on tape that he can and that might help his stock.”
The on-field workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium for running back prospects will take place on March 1 and will be televised on the NFL Network.