Leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft starting on April 29th, we will be releasing several draft profiles of prospects who could potentially see themselves on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Next up…
Trey Sermon (Running Back), The Ohio State, Senior
Herbert weighs in at 215lbs, standing at 6′ and one of the most underrated running backs in the draft.
Trey Sermon has had a very up and down career. He burst onto the scene as a true freshman for the Oklahoma Sooners and was second on the team in rushing behind star RB Rodney Anderson. In his sophomore season, he managed to improve on his freshman performance, but fell to the third leading rusher on the team due to the Sooners having running quarterback, Kyler Murray. As a junior, Sermon fell to behind in the pecking order for an unknown reason, as he was only given 62 touches in 10 games before he went down with a knee injury that ended his season. He then transferred to The Ohio State University where he was in a timeshare as well for most of the year. Sermon put on arguably the best two-game stretch ever for a running back in the Big Ten Championship game against Northwestern and the College Football Playoff semifinals against Clemson which has led to a rising draft stock heading into the offseason.
- Good first step burst
- Excellent contact balance, rarely goes down on first hit or arm tackles
- One of the best stiff arms in college football
- Good vision, able to see holes and cutback lanes opening before defenses do
- Patient runner
- Doesn’t try to do too much, won’t get himself out of position trying to do more than he can with what is available
- Relatively low wear and tear on his body for his age, only 503 total touches across four seasons
- Willing pass protector with lot of experience
- Ball security, only one fumble in his college career
- Good footwork in tight areas
- Long speed, doesn’t have a top gear to run away from defenders. Ran 4.58s at Pro Day
- Needs improvement in pass protection, willing but technique and power at point of attack need improved
- Only 48 receptions across 45 games. Seemed comfortable but not a lot of exposure to catching passes.
- Back to back seasons ending in injury. Ended junior season with a knee injury and senior season with a broken collarbone.
Most of Steeler Nation is leaning towards taking one of the top running backs in round 1. But if the Steelers elect to wait until the middle rounds, Sermon is someone who can easily emerge as a premier back for the team drafting him.
This is one of Sermon’s defining traits. When he has the ball in his hands, Sermon is able to be patient, yet have incredible burst through the holes that the offensive line opens for him. He will rarely rush himself if he doesn’t see a hole open immediately and remains patient behind the line while still making progress. He shows good ability to find a hole opening on the backside and has many examples on tape where he can escape out the back if the defense over commits. When he gets through the line, he does an excellent job of setting up linebackers and safeties to either get shielded off by his offensive lineman or set them up to eliminate their angles so he can find the open field. If there is a patch of green grass around the line or on the second level, it is tough to find a time when Sermon didn’t find it.
Sermon has a very balanced running style that can fit most offenses. He possesses above average quickness and burst that allows him to hit the holes fast, but also has good power and toughness in his runs to be able to push the pile and break tackles. The best part of Sermon’s game is definitely his contact balance, which is arguably the best in this draft class. Whether defenders are trying to get him down from his legs, his torso, or his shoulders, he is able to maintain balance and continue moving forward on his feet. He has great leg drive which lets him consistently fall forward at the end of runs for someone who isn’t a very large back. He also possesses an extremely violent stiff arm that makes you think he is Derrick Henry at times the way he has been able to put defenders in the dirt. One of the biggest knocks in Sermon’s running style is his lack of top end speed. He isn’t a slow running back, but he isn’t going to use just his speed to be able to create more than exists for himself.
While he has always looked comfortable catching the football out of the backfield, Sermon doesn’t have a lot of experience in that regard. He appears comfortable when catching check downs out of the backfield and appears to be a natural hands catcher vs. letting the ball get into his body. He doesn’t have really any experience being split out and running any complex routes out of the slot, so that likely isn’t something you can expect from him much at the next level. In terms of pass protection, Sermon has a lot of experience here working out of two different spread offenses. He has always been a willing blocker in this regard, but does need improvement. He can be timid at times and let the blockers get to him instead of attacking them which leads to him getting pushed into his QBs space. His recognition and technique seem to be decent at this point but likely need some polishing up as well.
NFL Comparison – Gus Edwards:
Both Sermon and Gus Edwards are very effective running the football. Both possess good vision, good contact balance, are powerful runners, and both have questions about their ability in the passing game. Edwards has had very good success as an early down RB in the NFL, and I expect the same from Sermon. Sermon probably has a little more upside in terms of his receiving ability, but he needs to prove that still to a lot of NFL teams.
Draft Projection – Early Day 3 Pick:
Due to his lack of passing game involvement and lack of long speed, he will definitely get knocked down some draft boards. I wouldn’t expect Sermon to fall too far however, as he still has the makings of a successful early down back who can help an NFL team immediately, just don’t expect him to do too much too early outside of that.
Let us know below what you think about Sermon as a prospect, and let us know what other prospects you could be interested in seeing a profile on!