When Ameer Abdullah was initially selected by the Detroit Lions at No. 54 overall, in round two of the NFL Draft last week, some fans didn’t like the pick.
In his four years as the collegiate level, Ameer Abdullah rushed for over 4,500 yards and scored more than 40 touchdowns. He was a Heisman trophy candidate early on in 2014, and for good reason. He racked up 1,600 yards rushing, 260 yards receiving and 22 total touchdowns. Ultimately, he was outperformed by Melvin Gordon and Tevin Coleman, but it was a historic season for running backs in the Big Ten Conference nonetheless.
So what’s not to like?
Well, as with every other prospect selected at the NFL Draft, there are a few concerns worth mentioning. Abdullah’s 5-foot-9, 205 pound frame doesn’t scream prototypical NFL running back size, and his ball security issues are a legitimate concern, (although perhaps overblown as he has improved in that category every year).
Despite concerns about his size and hands however, don’t expect Abdullah to be a situational player as most have projected.
Earlier this week, Abdullah sat down with the Omaha World-Herald’s Online Sports Show, and made it clear that he feels he can be an every-down back at the professional level.
"“I’m going to do whatever they ask me to do, but I think I’m an every-down back,” Abdullah said. “A lot of guys want to put me in the category of third-down back. For those who say that, I ask them to turn on my film. I’ve never been that kind of player. I’ve never been a person who is just serviceable, who catches the ball out of the backfield, which I can do and I feel I can do really well.”"
"“But I can do a lot of things on first or second down as well, in my opinion.”"
If you listen to the full interview above, you’ll likely also notice that Abdullah admits to being unfamiliar with Detroit and the state of Michigan, but that he is “very excited” about the opportunity to play here.
And Lions fans everywhere should be excited too.
Abdullah possess great lateral quickness, and will provide the team with not only a speed option out of the backfield, but also competition for incumbent return man Jeremy Ross.
“We are going to give him a look in the backfield, but also returns, as a kickoff and punt return guy,” Mayhew said. “He did punt returns his first couple years in college. He will get a real good look in a lot of different areas for us.”- Lions general manager, Martin Mayhew
Abdullah worked on his kick return skills throughout his four seasons at Nebraska, averaging 26.1 yards on 61 total attempts. He even scored a touchdown as a freshman in 2011. On his punt handling attempts, he averaged 10.2 yards on 31 attempts with another score.
What the Detroit Lions got with Ameer Abdullah is a guy who will at the very least compliment Joique Bell and Theo Riddick very nicely in Joe Lombardi’s offense. They also got themselves someone who may be able to provide a spark on returns. Most of all though, what Detroit gets from Abdullah is a guy who can help them win football games from day one.