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Film analysis: Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary

A look at running back Devin Singletary—2019 third-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills

With the eleventh pick in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft the Buffalo Bills selected running back Devin “Motor” Singletary from Florida Atlantic. The 5’7” 200-lb former Owl has drawn some comparisons to LeSean McCoy. Let’s take a look at some tape and see how much of that might be justified.

A couple notes before we begin. As a certified “not expert” in college football, analysis here focuses almost entirely on Devin Singletary with an emphasis on mechanics. Also note that we’ll discuss upside a bit more than we would for an established NFL player.

Play 1

This is precisely the kind of run that’ll get you compared to Shady. There’s an initial twitch, behind the line, that’s hard to fully catch at full speed. It helps Singletary find the lane and burst through. Trusting his blocker is another reason Singletary finds success. Once he’s through, his speed looks fine but probably not elite. He’s caught from behind, but a small shift in his step avoids the shoestring tackle. Immediately afterward. a touch of peripheral vision and a dab of instinct tells Singletary to duck and he avoids another tackle. This run shows off a very slippery player.

Play 2

What’s another way to be compared to LeSean McCoy? “Dance” around behind the line and get tackled for a loss. Also like Shady, it’s not entirely Singletary’s fault as you can certainly give credit to a solid play by the defense. However the urge to always find a hole can be a downside.

Play 3

The dance isn’t always problematic for the record. A couple of low-key lower body movements and Singletary avoids a run for no gain. It’s not a huge play, either, but far better than zero. Over his three years in college, Singletary averaged 6.0 yards per carry.

Play 4

Devin Singletary isn’t a powerhouse by any means. Candidly, physics aren’t always on the side of the guy. Singletary doesn’t shy away from contact though. With a head of steam and a well-placed shoulder he can pull off the occasional hit like this. At the end, his ability to lower and brace for contact helps keep his legs churning for extra yards.

Play 5

Here’s an example where physics just won’t play in his favor. Though his height allows him to stay lower than most opponents, at 200 lbs he can never really be a battering ram. This is a touchdown because his line does their job.

Play 6

This last GIF can stand for itself. What would be a tackle against many players becomes a fun replay.


Devin Singletary appears to signify that the Buffalo Bills will continue to value the skill set of shiftier running backs like LeSean McCoy as they work to further refine the team. In a similar mold as McCoy, Singletary relies on a good initial push from his line. Once started, though, narrow lanes are sufficient for the small and shifty Singletary. Good vision and instincts help him find the holes and avoid tackles.

His small frame allows leverage advantages in some cases, but at 200 lbs Singletary has a tough time truly running people over. Blocking (not included in the clips above) could be a cause for concern as the quality of competition is about to go way up.

Singletary is by no means a bad gamble for Buffalo. As a possible heir apparent to Shady, Singletary can learn from McCoy and the other veterans on the roster.