In the NFL Draft every year, comparisons of college prospects to current or former stars that played in the NFL, are inevitable. And with measurements of 5-foot-7, 203 pounds, with 4.41 speed and a very similar elusive style, New Orleans Saints 6th Round draft pick and rookie RB Boston Scott from Louisiana Tech University has indeed heard the comparisons between himself and former Saints and current Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles.
Many, many times in fact.
“I’ve been keeping up with him,” Scott said to WWL New Orleans 870 AM Radio hosts (and former Saints plyers) Bobby Hebert, Deuce McAllister, Zach Strief and NFL Draft expert Mike Detillier last week.
“I would compare our numbers from pro day. To even be in the same comparison with someone like Darren Sproles with the productivity he’s had and the impact he’s had on every team he’s gone to, especially in New Orleans, is incredibly humbling.
"I’m just thankful people would throw that comparison out there. But I’m also looking to be Boston Scott and be better.”
It's obvious that based on those comments to WWL New Orleans, Scott is very flattered by the comparison of himself to Sproles — but nevertheless, he still hopes to make his very own mark in the NFL.
A Baton Rouge native, Scott attended Zachary High School, where he lettered in football, soccer and track. But unfortunately because of his diminutive size, Scott never received much attention during his recruitment process, eventually settling to walk on at Louisiana Tech in 2013.
After redshirting as a freshman for the 2013 season, Scott ended up playing four seasons in Ruston; rising up the Bulldogs depth chart as both a running back and kick returner before earning honorable mention All-Conference USA recognition after his senior year in 2017.
During his senior season, Scott rushed rushed for more than 1,000 yards, becoming the starting running back halfway through the season, and his eight touchdowns helped the Bulldogs to their fourth straight winning season and fourth consecutive bowl victory, defeating SMU, 51-10, in the inaugural Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas in December.
As of this moment, Scott has a chance to win a key back-up RB role on a Saints team that does not have a clear option as the #3 running back on the Saints depth chart behind Mark Ingram and last year's 2017 NFL Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara.
Last season, the Saints had Trey Edmunds and Daniel Lasco as the primary back-ups at RB, but Lasco suffered a bulging disk injury in his neck in a 47-10 victory at Buffalo back in Week #9 that required season-ending surgery but wasn't career-threatening.
Also keep in mind: the team also added former University of Arkansas star and former Buffalo Bills 2016 NFL Draft 5th Round Draft pick Jonathan Williams, whom they signed off of the Denver Broncos Practice Squad last November. Williams rushed for 94 yards and one touchdown on 27 attempts during his lone season that year in 2016 as a rookie, before being released by the Bills right before the start of the 2017 season.
Scott would seem to be a prime candidate specifically to be the back-up for Kamara, given their similar running styles. Every Saints fan will remember how bad the Saints running game appeared to struggle when Kamara sustained a concussion in the Week #13 loss at Atlanta on Thursday Night Football.
Having Scott now to fill in if such an injury were to happen Kamara again, was obviously a factor that weighed in to the organization's decision to select the electrifying 22-year old; but his biggest impact as a rookie in 2018 will certainly be on special teams, where the Saints likely will give Scott a chance to become the team's designated kick returner on punts and kickoffs.
The last player to do that for the Saints? You guessed it — Darren Sproles.
So how accurate are the comparisons between Scott and Sproles? It all depends on your point of view.
Besides the obvious physical similarities in height and weight, (Scott is 5-foot-7, 203 pounds and Sproles is 5-foot-6, 190 pounds), strength (Scott did 21 reps on the bench press and Sproles did 23), and similar speed / 40-yard dash times (Scott ran a 4.41 at his Pro Day and Sproles ran a 4.45 at the 2005 NFL Scouting Combine), the biggest similarity is both players' elusiveness.
The folks over at Pro Football Focus chose Scott for the 2017 All-Conference USA First Team Offense, and since his numbers weren't all that overwhelming last season, it's likely Scott was still chosen because of his 4.2 yards after contact and 45 forced missed tackles on 180 touches.
In other words: Scott is extremely hard to take down — a trait no doubt that Saints head coach Sean Payton finds very appealing.
Where Scott and Sproles are obviously different is their production at the "scatback" role, and as a kick returner.
Sproles is heading into his 14th NFL season. He only appeared in 3 games last season due to a torn ACL that he suffered in Week #3, but the prior season in 2016, Sproles had 865 yards from scrimmage, 52 receptions, and four touchdowns that season for the Eagles.
Meanwhile as a senior last season, Scott rushed for 1,047 yards on 183 attempts but only caught 20 passes for an additional 181 receiving yards. So he wasn't utilized anywhere nearly as much as a receiver out of the backfield, in the way that the Saints utilized Sproles during his time in New Orleans (2011-13).
In his 3 years with the Saints, Sproles caught 232 passes for 1,981 yards, and a whopping 16 TD receptions. Clearly, Scott has a long way to go to match Sproles in the receiving department, though it wasn't his fault that he wasn't utilized more as a receiver out of the backfield in the Bulldogs offensive scheme.
And then of course, there's the kick returner role.
In his 3 years in NOLA, Sproles returned 70 kickoffs for 1,827 yards, an average of 26.1 yards per return. Additionally, he returned 81 punts for 671 yards and 1 TD, an average of 8.3 yards per return.
Last season in Ruston, Scott returned a total of 10 kickoffs for 183 yards, an 18.3 average per return. Scott split kick return duties over his final three seasons with the Bulldogs,and while he didn’t return a single punt in any of Louisiana Tech's games, he did practice returning them as well. He was also part of the punt coverage team.
Suffice it to say: while the comparisons in size, strength, speed, and sheer athleticism are pretty accurate, Scott will have a long way to go to EVER match the production that Sproles has had as a receiver and kick returner, in his illustrious NFL career.
Nevertheless, that doesn't mean that Scott won't make a similar impact in his future NFL career, if given the opportunity to do so.
Scott is probably a much more physical runner than Sproles in the running game aspect, especially "between the tackles".
But as a rookie in 2018, it probably goes without saying that Scott will serve primarily as a back-up to give Kamara the occasional "breather", while contributing on special teams in any way possible either as a return man or on the punt / kickoff coverage units.
“It starts with special teams,” Scott said to Baton Rouge Advocate writer Mark Gegenheimer last week. “A lot of teams want to evaluate your effort outside of the positions that get all the attention. ‘What are you going to do for this team?’ ‘Are you going to go out there on special teams?’ That’s something I’m looking forward to doing early and then making my way onto the field.”
The good folks covering the Draft last week for WWL New Orleans 870 AM Radio see a future for Scott on the Saints roster going forward, in a variety of ways.
"He's a scat back, really quick. He can be a punt returner. He's not a big guy, so you have to find a spot for him," Mike Detillier said after the selection of Scott was made.
And Detillier's new broadcast partner, recently-retired and former long-time Saints offensive tackle Zach Strief, noted that the Saints and Payton in particular, are known to develop players in Scott's mold.
"He’s coming into an offense that already has a tempo for that type of player. I think Sean Payton is probably better than any coach in the NFL at putting guys in a position to make plays," Strief said.
"He’s going to find himself, during Training Camp and the Pre-Season, in a position where he’s got the ball in space and (running) away from people, where he can use some things that he’s good at — to try and excel."
Excelling is something that Boston Scott has done, dating back to his days at Zachary High School as a Bronco, and recently these last few years as a Bulldog at Louisiana Tech.
And there isn't any reason to suspect that he won't excel yet again, as the newest member to wear the Black and Gold. But for now, being continually compared to a former Saints and current NFL star like Darren Sproles, isn't one of his goals.