Khalil Herbert- RB- Virginia Tech
Khalil Herbert has an interesting rookie profile, considering the time he spent in college. He spent his first four years of college with Kansas where he played a fairly significant role. Following his redshirt senior year with Kansas he transferred to Virginia Tech where he hit career highs almost across the board. Can fans expect the player that was never able to secure a true workhorse role with Kansas, or the player that excelled in that workhorse role with Virginia Tech?
Team: Chicago Bears
Height: 5′ 9″
Weight: 210 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.46
3-cone drill: 6.96
20-yard shuttle: 4.31
Vertical Jump: 33″
Broad Jump: 115″
Bench Press: 22
Khalil Herbert was a three star recruit in high school who only had an offer from one Power 5 conference team, the Kansas Jayhawks. As a freshman with the Jayhawks, Herbert played a minimal role with 50 total touches, 230 total yards and 3 touchdowns. As a sophomore he increased his role within the offense and became the lead back. He accrued over 700 total yards and 4 touchdowns, being somewhat active in the passing game. Going into 2018, Kansas brought in newcomer Pooka Williams who instantly took over the lead back role for Kansas. Herbert still held a significant role in the offense accruing over 500 yards and 5 touchdowns, but his role was substantially cut.
2019 brought more of the same for Herbert, seeing his role continually decrease with Pooka Williams taking more touches. Despite his lack of opportunity, he showed off his efficiency in his vision and awareness providing 8.9 yards per carry. Following his true senior campaign of only 4 games, Herbert entered the portal as a graduate transfer and made his way to Virginia Tech for the 2020 season. In 11 games with the Hokies, Herbert posted career highs in attempts, yards, touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards, yards per reception, and scored his lone college receiving touchdown. Providing over 1300 yards and 9 touchdowns, Herbert was awarded second team All-ACC honors and shot onto every analysts’ draft board.
Maybe Herbert’s best quality is his vision and patience that he displays at the line of scrimmage. He consistently finds cutback lanes and allows for his teammates to set up blocks in front of him either at the line of scrimmage or in the second level. Going hand and hand with his vision is his burst and short area quickness, allowing him to force defenders to miss or take bad angles. He possesses solid change of direction ability, and when he combines this with his short area quickness it is extremely lethal. This allows him to flip the field or hit cutback lanes more effectively, maximizing his yards.
Despite his lack of production in the passing game while he was in college, when given the opportunity on film, he excelled. He caught the ball with soft hands, extended his catch radius well, and was able to make touch catches. With the ball in the open field, he proved to be quite elusive, making defenders miss with slight changes in direction or running through arm tackles due to bad angles.
For someone standing at Herbert’s size (5’9” 210 lbs), he goes down at first contact more often than not. He keeps his legs churning and consistently gives good effort, but rarely breaks tackles outside of arm tackles. This means he will need to work on increasing his strength at the next level. Additionally, he lacks true long speed and overall is not as athletic as the top running backs in this class. In terms of production, his tenure at Kansas is worrisome as he was never able to secure a feature back role and Pooka Williams beat him out as a freshman. Whether that was more on the coaching staff or not, Khalil Herbert was not good enough to demand playing time or touches over others in the same backfield.
Post Draft Analysis
Chicago Bears: Round 6 Pick 37
The Chicago Bears selected Khalil Herbert with the 37th pick in the sixth round. The Bears made it a point to address the offensive side of the ball, selecting offensive players with their first five picks in the draft. With the defensive side of the ball being one of the sole bright spots for the team in recent years, the overhaul makes sense. Additionally, they are looking to set up their first round QB, Justin Fields, for long term success with picks to bolster the offensive line and wide receiver core.
For a player picked in the sixth round, Herbert has a solid opportunity in front of him to carve out a real role in the Bear’s backfield. Herbert can come in immediately to spell Montgomery when needed. Since Herbert excelled at pass catching with his limited opportunity, he could be a great future replacement for Tarik Cohen, who has a potential out in his contract following the 2021 season. If Cohen can’t stay healthy for a second year in a row, the Bears might be inclined to move on and let Herbert and Montgomery provide a one-two punch in the backfield. Cohen standing at 5’ 6” and 191 lbs, durability was always a concern with questions asking how long someone at that size can withstand the beating of multiple NFL seasons.
The Chicago Bears have a new look offense with Justin Fields at the helm. The offense projects to take a major step forward following the quarterback play we’ve seen from the Bears in recent years. Herbert has an opportunity to gain some secondary playing time behind Montgomery instantly or provide a great backup plan for Cohen if he does go down at any point throughout the season. Additionally, if he impresses this offseason or during the season, he could be the long term replacement to Cohen’s role in the offense. In redraft, Herbert shouldn’t go drafted and might provide some value later in the season off the waiver wire if the Bear’s backfield suffers any injuries. In dynasty leagues, he is going undrafted or following the third round in rookie drafts. He is a solid stash play that managers can put on their taxi squad and monitor the backfield situation over this offseason and throughout the regular season.
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Image Credit: Jamie Rhodes – USA TODAY Sports