Mark Weisman (Iowa) to the Cincinnati Bengals— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) May 2, 2015
WHAT'S SPECIAL ABOUT MARK WEISMAN?
Weisman went from a walk-on who transferred from the Air Force Academy to Iowa's leading rusher three years in a row. You don't do that unless you're willing to work your ass off and Weisman proved that time and again, year after year. He was a consummate grinder. There's nothing flashy about Weisman's game: he runs straight ahead, goes through arm tackles, and punishes defenders. He's also absolute dynamite in the red zone, rushing for a whopping 32 touchdowns in his three-year Iowa career, mostly from close to the goal line.
WHAT DID HE DO THAT WAS SO GREAT?
Like we said: he bulldozed dudes. Weisman was a throwback in so many ways: he was a lump of muscle who sought out contact, abused defenders, and plowed ahead for yard after yard over three years at Iowa. If you enjoy the physical side of football, and big hits you'll probably appreciate what Mark Weisman can do. Weisman was also good at reading blocks and letting plays develop.
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HOW ARE HIS PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES?
Weisman is 5-11, 242 lbs and he ran a 4.62 40 at Iowa's Pro Day. For a dude his size, he's probably a little quicker than you'd expect. But here's the thing: Iowa played him as a running back. As a running back, his physical attributes are probably sub-par, at least for football in the year 2015 -- he's just not fast enough or quick enough. But here's the thing: he's not going to play running back in the NFL -- he's going to be a fullback. And as fullbacks go, his physical attributes are probably just fine.
PRO DAY RESULTS
WHAT ABOUT THE BAD?
Look, at Iowa Weisman ran into problems at times because of what he was asked to do: carry the ball 20+ times a game and run the ball on plays that don't play to his strengths (like stretch plays to the outside). That shouldn't be a problem at the NFL level because he simply isn't going to be asked to do things like that. Weisman's lateral quickness isn't great and he doesn't have great top-end speed -- but, again, as a fullback those flaws should be minimized. He had some durability issues at Iowa and wore down in the second halves of seasons, but that was certainly tied to the heavy workload he had at Iowa as well -- he's not going to be asked to carry the ball 200+ times in the NFL.
That said, not all of his flaws are mitigated by the fact he'll be moving from running back to fullback in the NFL. His ability as a pass-catcher and outlet valve in the passing game is largely untested; he only caught 24 passes at Iowa, with over half of those coming in his first season at Iowa. Most importantly, he hasn't played fullback for several years. We don't really know what he's like as a lead blocker because that wasn't the role he was asked to fill at Iowa. He was a pretty solid in pass protection, at least.
WAS THIS A GOOD SIGNING?
It could be, yeah. Obviously, the bar of expectations is much lower for a fullback than a running back -- he's going to be asked to block and protect, with the occasional carry or reception mixed in. Projecting his performance as a lead blocker is tricky, but he has all the tools to succeed in that role. He can also be a useful weapon carrying the ball in short-yardage situations or near the goal line. If that sounds like a role that your team needs filled, then yeah, Weisman might just be your man.