As more and more college football teams adapt to some version of the spread offense, the NFL has changed the way it scouts quarterbacks. And as a result, more teams are becoming pass-oriented, and are using more open, shotgun, and pistol formations. Because of this adaptation, the fullback position is becoming a thing of the past. This is unfortunate because fullbacks still have a purpose in this game.
As someone who played the position in my younger days, I understand the value that fullbacks still have. The original purpose of the position was to strictly provide support in the run game. But today, Kyle Juszczyk of the San Francisco 49ers, the league's highest-paid fullback ever (signed a four-year, $21 million contract with $7 million guaranteed in 2017), embodies how fullbacks can still work in today's game. He's proven that the position can evolve as the game evolves, and has demonstrated that fullbacks are utility players these days.
Here are five fullbacks who have entered the 2020 NFL Draft that could potentially follow in Juszczyk's footsteps.
Bronson Rechsteiner, Kennesaw State
Rechsteiner was definitely a utility player for the Owls from the FCS ranks. He posted stats in multiple categories, which is very good considering that Kennesaw State runs the triple-option. From 2017 to '19 Rechsteiner accounted for 1,496 rushing yards (6.1 ypc, 9 TDs), 189 receiving yards (15.8 ypr), and he also threw a touchdown pass. That versatility should, at the very least, get him an opportunity as an undrafted free agent. He'll have to add bulk to his 230-pound frame, but I expect Rechsteiner to wind up in someone's training camp this year.
Parker Houston, San Diego State
The Aztecs are among the few FBS teams that still run a pro-style offense. Houston played mostly tight end for SDSU (2016-19), and while there he registered 45 receptions for 420 yards and three touchdowns. His blocking and pass-catching skills have some projecting him as a potential H-back, although it will take the right system for him to find a fit. Houston can lend a hand on special teams whether it's in coverage or with returns (25 kick return yards with Aztecs).
Sewo Olonilua, TCU
Technically the Horned Frogs don't utilize a fullback as they are among college football's spread offense practitioners. But Olonilua is an exception to the rule. He has the size (6-3, 232) to play fullback in the NFL, and when lining up as the only running back in TCU's base formation (2016-19) he proved to be efficient as a ball carrier (1,624 yards, 18 TDs, 4.7 ypc), receiver (383 yards, TD), and as a blocker. He also dabbled in some special teams action (177 kick return yards). Olonilua's multi-faceted skill set can't be ignored.
Kelton Moore, Nevada
Moore, who operated in the Wolfpack's pistol offense from 2015 to '19, possesses similar traits to Sewo Olonilua. Unlike Olonilua, Moore's slightly small stature (5-11, 225) gives him a lower center of gravity and more leverage when taking on bigger defenders. He also produced as a rusher (1,424 yards, 10 TDs, 4.9 ypc), receiver, (322 yards, TD, 7.2 ypr), and occasional return specialist (69 kick return yards) for Nevada.
Darius Bradwell, Tulane
When Bradwell got started with the Green Wave in 2016, he was a quarterback. But over his final three seasons, he switched to running back and found success in Tulane's spread-option hybrid offense. Not only did Bradwell hold his own as a blocker when needed, but he also made things happen with the ball in his hand as both a rusher and receiver who totaled 2,119 yards from scrimmage with 17 touchdowns. He'll need to add mass to his 230-pound frame, but he has plenty of speed for the fullback position.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.