Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey has been the engine that drives the Wildcat offense this season. Their offense depends on him being productive as it sets up everything else they do, both as a runner and receiver. Carey has been the most consistent running back in college football this year and been an impact player in every game for Arizona.
Projecting to the NFL, there is a lot to like about Carey. He has good instincts, can attack and exploit holes quickly and can make opponents miss. His speed is good but not great and he has power but can have trouble using it. Carey can contribute as a receiving threat but is a miserable blocker at this point. There is an off field issue where he was arrested for alleging assaulting his then pregnant ex-girlfriend. The chargers were ultimately dropped but teams will investigate. Carey projects as an early day three pick as someone who can be a nice complementary back until he gets better at blocking with the potential to be a feature back.
Vitals & Build
Carey is listed at 5’10” 207lbs with good size for the position. He has good but not great speed, but accelerates well and has excellent quickness and great feet. Carey possesses good strength for the position but his technique makes it difficult for him to always show it. There is still physical potential with Carey as he can still add strength to his frame, but he could contribute as is.
Carey is a back that has impressive agility and can make moves until a hole shows up with the quickness and explosive to take advantage. He knows how to get skinny to take advantage of creases in the defense to pick up yardage.
Carey uses an upright running style and can have trouble employing his power. When he anticipates contact, he is able to lower his shoulder and deliver a hit. In those situations, he can pick up first downs and touchdowns in short yardage situations or down near the goal line. The problem is when he gets caught in the backfield or is caught by surprise with a hit, his upright style makes him a target and makes it easy to tackle him.
Carey can make opponents miss and the two ways he accomplishes that the most are with jump cuts and planting his leg and making strong cuts. He displays impressive body control and is able to stop and plant with relative ease, making it so he can redirect runs effectively.
Carey has speed to where he can make big runs, but he is not a true homerun threat as opponents tend to be able to track him down as he gets into the open field. He is not a player who will get many 50+ yard runs, but he seems able to get a number of 10+ yard carries.
Carey is able to attack to the outside but he really excels in between the tackles. He is not afraid to attack downhill and get tough yardage when the situation calls for it, but he is sleek enough where the combination of making subtle steps and being able to get thin makes it so he can work through trash and keep getting yardage. There are situations where Carey will waste too much time in the backfield and will wait too long for a hole to open up, trying to maneuver his footwork so he can attack the back side, but it is not something that stands out as a problem.
Route Running & Technique
Carey has experience running routes from screens to swing passes to some intermediate routes that can attack different areas of the field. None of these routes really ask him to be terribly precise, so he has not really shown how good of a route runner he can be. Should he be asked to run more defined routes, he should not have a problem as his experience with the Wildcats is valuable in that area of his game.
Carey can go out and catch the ball, but needs to be more confident in his hands. He catches too many passes with his body at this point. There is not a problem with drops but his catch radius is limited if he is not more capable of catching passes away from his body.
Run After Catch
Because of his quickness, Carey is able to make opponents miss after he catches the ball virtually anywhere on the field. It would be easier if he could make more catches with his hands and make the transition from pass catcher to run after the catch more quickly. Nevertheless, he is someone who can contribute in that facet of the game with the potential to get better.
Carey’s blocking is pretty miserable for the most part and is usually feast or famine. He tends to just try to throw his body at an opponent, often times with his head down so he cannot even see what he is trying to hit. Carey takes bad angles, does not use his hands well and just looks to deliver knock out blows as opposed to actually blocking the opponent.
He is actually at his most effective as a blocker off of play action when he is selling the fact that has the ball. In that scenario, he can at least be counted on to be in the way and tends to hold the defender off longer in that scenario. Carey needs to actually take the time to learn how to block, stop lunging, and plant his feet and slide with the opponent. If he cannot, it will difficult for some teams to trust him in their backfield.
Carey’s best fit is in a zone blocking scheme or another scheme that takes advantage of his ability to see and exploit holes. He could play in just about any scheme with his versatility and ability to run and catch passes out of the backfield, but his vision is an asset and one that a team should want to take advantage. Carey could really excel in some of the systems that use more spread concepts and a team like the Philadelphia Eagles could be a great fit.
Carey’s game is somewhat similar to that of Knowshon Moreno of the Denver Broncos. Like Carey, Moreno was extremely productive coming out of college and it has taken some time, but he has developed into a nice all-around back, even if it he has not quite lived up to his draft slot. Neither has an overwhelming physical advantage such as strength or speed but they both are able to make plays with agility and footwork.
Ka’Deem Casey has been an incredibly consistent player for Arizona. He has great feet and quickness that enable him to make plays and sift through defenses. Carey has enough speed to keep defenses honest and effective power when he is able to get behind his pads. His blocking is extremely poor at this point, but he can contribute as a runner and receiver when he gets into the league. If he can learn to block, teams can trust him as an every down back. There are some character concerns that need to be vetted, but they should not much of an impact. Carey projects as an early third day pick that could be a nice complement with the potential to evolve into a feature back.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com