Rookie Profile – Trey Sermon

Trey Sermon - RB - Ohio State University

Welcome the rookie profile for Trey Sermon. He made a name for himself his senior season after transferring from Oklahoma to Ohio State University. Sermon had a somewhat productive 3 seasons with Oklahoma until he suffered a leg injury in 2019. Sermon is a big and physical back that shows an impressive power running style. Unfortunately, Sermon has suffered some big injuries over the past few years, cutting each of the 2019 and 2020 seasons short.

Draft Results

Round: 3
Pick: 25
Team: San Francisco 49ers

Measurables

Age: 22

Height: 6′ 0″

Weight: 215 lbs

40-yard dash: 4.57s

3-cone drill: 6.83s

20-yard shuttle: 4.28s

Vertical Jump: 37″

Broad Jump: 125″

Bench Press: DNP

College Stats

Rushing Receiving
Year
Team
Class
GP
Att
Yds
YPA
TD
Rec
Yds
YPC
TD
2017
Oklahoma
Fr.
13
121
744
6.1
5
16
139
8.7
2
2018
Oklahoma
So.
14
164
947
5.8
13
12
181
15.1
2019
Oklahoma
Jr.
10
54
385
7.1
4
8
71
8.9
1
202
Ohio State
Sr.
8
116
870
7.5
4
12
95
7.9
College Career

Sermon started off his freshman season at Oklahoma strong as an incoming 4-star recruit from Georgia, logging almost 900 all-purpose yards and 7 total touchdowns. He saw an uptick in volume during his sophomore year, eclipsing 1000 total yards and 13 touchdowns during 2018. Sermon saw a decrease in production and volume his junior season before suffering a season-ending leg injury. For Sermon’s senior season, he decides to transfer to the Ohio State University, seeing an obvious void to fill after JK Dobbins was drafted in the second round in 2019.

During the 2020 season with Ohio State, Trey Sermon had a true breakout year totaling 965 scrimmage yards, 4 touchdowns in only 8 games played due to COVID. It is important to note, that even though 2020 was a breakout year for Sermon it was still up and down. 636 rushing yards out of his 870 were accumulated in 3 games and almost half of his rushing yards were accumulated in one game against North Western. While it is impressive to accumulate all of those yards in such a short amount of time, it is concerning that this production that got him noticed is not seen anywhere else in his performance profile.

Unfortunately, Sermon’s hot streak was ended versus the University of Alabama in the College Football Playoff Finals when he suffered a collarbone injury on the first drive and first carry of the game.

Scouting Report

Positives

At 6’0” and 215 lbs, Sermon profiles as a prototypical workhorse running back. Sermon is a powerful runner, consistently running through or bouncing off defenders. He showed solid contact balance and always would fight for extra yards, rarely being brought down by one defender. Demonstrating good vision, he is able to quickly analyze the line of scrimmage and patiently wait for blocks to develop in front of him. As soon as he finds the running lane, he utilizes impressive burst to shoot through the line of scrimmage. In addition to his burst, Sermon has great short-area quickness for a running back of his size. 

His change of direction and ability to make defenders miss makes him lethal in tight areas or the open field. Additionally, Sermon is a solid receiving option out of the backfield. Although he wasn’t utilized frequently in the passing game, when he was passed the ball he generally showed reliable hands. When he stayed in the backfield on third down for pass protection, he shows no lack of effort and is a more than willing blocker for his teammates.

Negatives:

Sermon’s production profile is a bit of a red flag with so much of his college production coming from such a small sample size. Many hope that he can continue the production he displayed at the end of the 2020 season because it was the only true sample size of him getting that kind of volume. But, it’s still a risk. Additionally, he lacks the long speed that the NFL loves, posting a 4.57 40 yard dash. 

While not a terrible test result, he is not going to be a home run threat when he hits the open field at the next level. Lack of receiving work is a slight concern, receiving at most 16 receptions in one season. When utilized as a receiver, he was okay, but not special in this area. It is clear when compared to the top-end running back talent in this class, Sermon is not the level of athlete as the others.

Draft Analysis

Pre Draft

Expected Draft Capital:

Early day 3, rounds 4-5.

Best Draft Fits:

The overall rookie profile Trey Sermon shows the skill set to be a 3 down workhorse at the next level if he can develop a bit more in the receiving game and show he can stay healthy. While he has this upside, I believe a team will take a shot on him in to fill a 2 down back or change of pace back with the potential upside to grow his role. Teams that could be good fits for Sermon and have a need for the role he would fill are the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, and the Miami Dolphins. There are plenty of teams that could use some depth at the running back position in the middle to end of this year’s draft.  

Post Draft

Draft Capital:

San Francisco 49ers: Rounds 3, Pick 25

Landing Spot:

Kyle Shanahan adds another running back to the stable as the San Francisco 49ers drafted Trey Sermon with the 25th pick in the third round. Shanahan is the master of the running back by committee approach as he follows the hot hand and has produced multiple successful running backs in his system. Currently the 49ers have Jeffery Wilson, Raheem Mostert, and JaMycal Hasty still on the roster from last year. They brought in Wayne Gallman in the offseason and also drafted Elijah Mitchell in the sixth round of the 2021 draft. It would be surprising if most of these backs made the final roster, so we can expect some of these players to be either cut or signed to the practice squad by the time regular season starts.

Sermon figures to work his way into that rotation for playing time and the 49ers have shown they will lean on him if he gets hot. If he can pick up where he left off the 2020 college season, he should gain playing time early and often. Wilson and Mostert have both had issues staying on the field for an entire season, leaving additional opportunities for Sermon if either were to go down for any amount of time. Shanahan potentially could be looking for a young running back to give the rock to consistently like he had with Devonta Freeman in Atlanta. With the changing of the guard imminent at quarterback, we could see some shake up in how the offense is run with Trey Lance at the helm. Sermon has the potential to carry the workload and be dynamic with the ball as long as he too can stay healthy as well as show the same production he did in his dynamic last three full games in 2020.

Fantasy Impact

The 49ers invested decent Day 2 draft capital in Trey Sermon, so they expect him to contribute to the offense. Someone always produces every week for the 49ers backfield, but it is always a flip of the coin of which back out of the committee it will be. Sermon has the talent potential to change that and be a consistent presence in that backfield. In redraft it might be beneficial to take a wait and see approach to find out how Shanahan runs the offense this year. If managers can add him as a late round flier, he could be worth a shot banking that at some point he takes over the offense or is in line for some predictable big games during the season. For dynasty he is in the top tier of running backs after the big three and generally goes off the board early in the second of super flex rookie drafts. For running back needy teams his upside could end up paying off, but it will be difficult passing up on the wide receiver talent that is probably available where he is being drafted.

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Image Credit: Derick E. Hingle – USA TODAY Sports