A scatback in football refers to a running back that beats defenders using his elusiveness and speed. Scatbacks typically feature smaller builds than a traditional running back.
These sorts of running backs rarely break tackles and often run to the outside as opposed to in between the tackles. Scatbacks also tend to be more proficient at catching the ball than a power back. For this reason, you will find seatbacks are more likely to be on the field in third down situations.
Pros And Cons Of Scatbacks
Now that you know what a scatback is in football it’s time we breakdown what they can do for your football team.
Scatbacks are much more likely to have breakaway speed when compared to most running backs. This means their top speed gives them the ability to break off long touchdown runs.
Having breakaway speed is a very important trait to have especially at the NFL level.
We have already touched on the fact that these runningbacks have an incredibly ability to avoid contact. Above all else scatbacks are known for their elusiveness and agility similar to a slot receiver. When you see a running back make a defender jump in the wrong direction you are likely watching a scatback.
The receiving ability is another great benefit of a scatback. This is the sort of trait that ensures that these players get onto the field. Scatbacks are much more consistent than other running backs when it comes to catching the ball. This makes third and longs situations a great opportunity for scatbacks.
A great example of this would be a scatback like Giovani Bernard. Despite not being the starter he has enjoyed a long career as scatback due to his ability to work as a receiver on third downs for the Bengals.
Due to their smaller stature, it is difficult for scatbacks to consistently make tackles. In fact, many scatbacks struggle to break arm tackles, something a power back would easily run right through.
This makes it more difficult for these backs to run inbetween the tackles.
Though it is not always the case scatbacks can have some difficulty pass blocking. This is again due to their smaller size. That being said many of the best scatbacks have found their way around this issue with technique. This is important because it will allow them to block on passing downs when they are not running a route.
Best NFL Scatbacks Of All Time
I am not getting into ranking these runningbacks specifically but here are several of the top scatbacks of all time. This does not mean this is a list of best running backs. As there are plenty of greats that were jsut too physical to be considered scat backs.
Barry Sanders is an easy selection for this list because he is certainly the most elusive running back of all time. His ability to make a man miss made him a truly incredible football player.
Lesean Mccoy is another great example of a true scatback. Just by the way Lesean held the ball you could tell he was the sort of player that wasn’t planning on getting hit. “Shady” Mccoy had an incredible skill when it came to getting past defenders without them even touching him.
Reggie Bush is a great scatback because he played the role so well. He was never known as a three-down back but he certainly did his job as a scatback. He also returned punts and played special teams a common trait for scatbacks early in their careers.
Chris Johnson is one of the few NFL players to ever rush for 2000 yards and he did it without breaking too many tackles. His incredible speed allowed him to break off numerous massive runs throughout his career.