Jerome Ford originally played for Alabama, but like so many other top high school athletes, he found himself just one of many elite players for the Crimson Tide (Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris). After appearing in just eight games over two years, he entered the transfer portal as a redshirt sophomore in 2020 and went to Cincinnati for the next two seasons.
Ford originally was one of the top college prospects in 2018 when he attracted offers from North Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee and Arizona. He is considered a tier or behind the top rookie backs, but he’s already shown the traits and abilities to be a successful in an NFL that mostly relies on committee backfields.
Weight: 210 pounds
40 time: 4.46 seconds
Ford shared the Bearcats backfield with Gerrid Doaks in 2020 but then became the primary last year when he totaled up 1,539 total yards and 20 touchdowns. He failed to score in just two games and gained 5.1 yards per carry on his 15 rushes in the Cotton Bowl loss against his previous school of Alabama.
Table: Jerome Ford, NCAA stats (2018-21)
- Averaged 6.3 yards per carry in two seasons with Bearcats
- Classic North-South runner
- Patient runner that follows blocking
- Great vision
- Elite change-of-direction ability
- Very strong inside rusher
- Game breaking speed with a second gear
- Quick feet
- Intelligent – makes good decisions
- Excels at short yardage
- Not a natural pass catcher
- Will need to develop pass protection skills
- Older (23) for a rookie running back
- May end up as the rushing half of a two-player backfield
The expectation is that Ford goes in the top three rounds, and more likely in the third than the second. If he falls to the fourth, he’ll present a very nice value to his team. Ford’s college career started slowly due to the perpetual logjam of talented rushers at Alabama, and he needed two years to establish himself for Cincinnati, so basing his outlook solely on his college resume is likely incomplete.
Ford was a great rusher for the Bearcats with chunk plays and breakaway speed when he cleared the first tier of the defense. That rushing ability could get him onto the field as a rookie, but his more sparse background as a receiver could work against him ever becoming a three-down back in the NFL.
As with any runner, where he lands will dictate how much fantasy value he’ll create as a rookie. But Ford could surprise in the right situation. He only totaled 31 receptions in college, but he did catch nearly every pass thrown to him. He’ll be a strong consideration on dynasty teams and a definite training camp watch regardless wherever he lands.