A undrafted running back with starter traits in Andy Reid’s offense on a rookie contract? Yes, please.
Deneric Prince should have been included in the Chiefs Focus Top Draft prospect list. I atleast hoped the team would’ve drafted him. I had him selected as one of my last picks in my latest mock draft. They didn’t make the selection with one of the picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, but the wish list became a reality: Prince signed his undrafted deal with the Chiefs. However, if I was Brett Veach in the Chiefs war room I would have pounded the table for the former Tulsa running back. While the Chiefs could’ve chosen to draft Prince and sign him on a four year rookie deal, they’ve also been able to get several players on value contracts through undrafted free agency. Right now, that’s the case for Deneric Prince, which is great news for Chiefs general manger Brett Veach. A good rule of thumb for building rosters: Find running backs on rookie contracts especially later like Elijah Mitchell or Isiah Pacheco.
— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) April 30, 2023
Who is Deneric Prince?
Prince signed with home-state Texas A&M as a three-star recruit in 2018 after playing at Manvel High School. He redshirted that fall, playing in one game rushing for just 2 carries for 21 yards. He did not play in 2019 and then transferred to Tulsa. Prince tied for the Golden Hurricane lead with four rushing touchdowns in 2020, starting two of eight games played rushing for 88 carries for 470 yards (5.3 yards per carry); He started three of 10 appearances in 2021 rushing 100 times for 524 yards (5.2 yards per carry), five TDs rushing; Prince led Tulsa in rushing in 2022 rushing the ball 126 times for 729 yards (5.8 yards per carry), five TDs; also 9 catches for 84 yards, one TD receiving in eight games, seven starts) despite missing the first four games due to injury. Prince worked out with former Chiefs running back Derrick Blaylock during the pre-draft process.
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) February 26, 2023
How will the Chiefs use him?
Though his college production is impressive, box-score scouting alone is a bad method for judging potential pro talent. There is a bigger reason why the Chiefs signed Prince; the back is athletic and displayed numerous NFL level traits. Measuring in at 6’ 0’’ and 216 pounds in Indianapolis, he ran a 4.41 40 yard dash. The Chiefs are hopeful he could contribute as part of a committee backfield alongside Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon, however if any injury to the incumbents were to occur, he would actually become a reliable three-down back as the season progresses and put up a season nobody will see coming.
#CFB's Top 5 Fastest Ball Carriers from Week 8
— Reel Analytics (@RAanalytics) October 24, 2022
This athleticism is apparent on tape, where he presses the line of scrimmage well – with little dancing – and explodes through holes. He has great lateral agility and footwork, possessing the ability to strongly cut off either foot, which extends to brilliant footwork. He also takes advantage of smaller spaces by getting skinny through the hole without losing speed. Once he gets to the hole, his burst and long speed take over. Prince boasts good contact balance making it hard to take him down with arm tackles and good luck to any defensive backs trying to bring him down.
— Prince (@denericprince) December 15, 2022
Prince is a big, powerful north-south-minded runner with 4.41 speed. He is a problem when he is on the go like Isiah Pacheco. He’s difficult to bring down. Prince grows stronger as the game goes on and his angry, violent style is tough to deal with for second and third-level defenders for four quarters of football.
Prince fits Andy Reid’s offensive scheme perfectly, as he presses the LOS, reads the aiming point, and cuts well. The Chiefs zone rushing scheme is one that will rely on the offensive line moving with the play, creating aiming points for a running back – be it outside, an alley, or a cutback lane. Tulsa’s scheme led by Philip Montgomery used a decent amount of run-pass options (RPOs) to help keep their opponents guessing. Prince demonstrating that trait should help him translate to Reid’s scheme.
My Pro Comparison:
When I watch Deneric Prince, I see Alfred Morris with speed. Alfred Morris rushed for 1,613 yards as a rookie for Washington in 2012 and topped 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons. Both are 215+ pound backs with the motor in the run game but we’re limited in the passing game. As a pass catcher, Prince has all the tools to develop nicely as a legitimate receiving weapon just like Damien Williams and Darrel Williams (two former UDFA RBs that signed with the Chiefs).
Top 10 Rushing Seasons of the 2010s — #5 Redskins Alfred Morris 2012 (via @nflthrowback) pic.twitter.com/R1GghVNhzx
— All-Pro Reels (@allproreels) May 17, 2020
His burst comes in handy when he’s getting out of the backfield into his route. He’s comfortable flexing out and running routes. Prince has natural hands and from watching the film, I didn’t see any drops. Compared to the other running backs in Chiefs history, Prince is faster than Damien Williams (Prince 4.41 40 yard dash time, Williams 4.45), quicker than Jerick McKinnon (Prince 1.53 10 yard-split, McKinnon 1.55) and jumps higher than Jamaal Charles (Prince 35.5 inch vertical, Charles 30.5). The athleticism stands out.
Deneric Prince is a RB prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.58 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 74 out of 1745 RB from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/Mlq3BtRbIX #Chiefs pic.twitter.com/YvfxQXb6pa
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 30, 2023
Damien Williams went undrafted in the 2014 draft class.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) January 12, 2020
Brett Veach has had success with finding players in this mold like Charavius Ward, Tershawn Wharton, Byron Pringle and Tommy Townsend. Deneric Prince is the next one.
Prince not only provides the Chiefs with another athletic running back, he also helps to provide insurance as an effective option both on early downs, as well as third down. As Prince will continue to progress as the Chiefs potential primary ground threat, the targets from Mahomes will come in time.
— WalkTheMock (@WalkTheMock) March 5, 2023
It will probably take Prince awhile to get comfortable in the NFL, which is no surprise for a rookie. What’s encouraging is that Prince is already enjoying Kansas City and the Chiefs hopes he comes into 2023 looking more like the star at Tulsa with every week. The Chiefs could help Prince get acclimated to the NFL with the big sets featuring multiple backs and tight ends. The use of simple man gap run schemes has also helped ease Prince into a groove early in games.
With an undrafted rookie running back hoping to have early season success, it only adds fuel to the heated running back debate especially with the undecided future of Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Look for Prince to be a difference maker as the Chiefs continue on their rampant tear through the NFL to defend their title in 2023. If he continues to build off the impressive ending he had to his collegiate career running the football, then he already strengthens the running back room significantly and provide a young, impressive one-two punch between him and Pacheco for the foreseeable future.
Rookie RB, Deneric Prince likes how the Chiefs gave seventh-round pick, Isiah Pacheco playing time after proving himself on the field
Heading into last year Pacheco had some of the fastest speed analytics in college, this year Prince posted similar numbers pic.twitter.com/jRAquWDNtH
— Sports Radio 810 WHB (@SportsRadio810) May 8, 2023
2023 Prediction stats: 106 touches for 517 total yards (441 rushing yards), 4 total touchdowns (3 rushing). That would be an impressive stat line for an undrafted rookie running back in Andy Reid’s scheme.