Name: Tre Mason
Weight: 207 lbs.
Strengths: Mason has good burst off the snap, has the vision to read where the hole is and punches through it. He doesn’t waste any time in the backfield, doesn’t dance or hesitate—Mason just plants his foot and goes. That decisiveness along with his vision makes him hard to contain in the backfield and with his low pad level, he’s hard to tackle. When you do get a hand on him, Mason will spin out of the way. He’s not shy about contact, bringing a nice physical style to finish his runs, which also seems to translate to some very good pass blocking—a huge bonus for any rookie running back. Mason carried a heavy workload at Auburn without wearing down, so he could potentially do that at the pro level. He also showed good hands receiving out of the backfield, though saw limited use in that area. Mason is also a strong kickoff returner.
Weakness: Mason’s shorter than what teams look for in a prototypical back, but has enough mass to where durability isn’t a concern.
While he is fast, Mason only seems to have one speed so once he tops out, he isn’t adding more burst to get away from tacklers. We know he can catch the ball, but our ability to really examine that is limited because he just didn’t get used in the receiving game often enough to get a firm grasp on it.
Mason has had some ball security issues the last two years and will need to take better care of the ball at the pro level. There might be some question about his potential effectiveness depending on where he lands because he may have benefited a bit from a very good offensive line and an up-tempo scheme which wore down defenses.
On the other hand, if he’s in a scheme which does that, it’s going to be a strong fit.
Intangibles: Mason is reportedly a hard-working player and a pretty good guy but did have some off-the-field issues in 2013 (see below).
Notes: Even in a year where we know running backs will slide because of the decrease in relative value at the position, Mason wouldn’t have gone as high as, say Trent Richardson did a few years back. He might have snuck into the first round—and may yet because this is the draft and wackiness ensues—but he’s not what we used to see as an elite back. That’s not to say he won’t be very good though and I like what he brings to the table a lot.