The Arizona Cardinals are once again looking into an ASU running back in the pre-draft process. Xazavian (X) Valladay is reportedly scheduled to interview with the Cardinals via Zoom today. The projected day three pick is also reportedly meeting with the Texans and Eagles today as well.
— MLFootball (@_MLFootball) April 20, 2023
Valladay, listed at 6 feet and 198 pounds, had an ultra-impressive season last year for the Sun Devils after transferring from Wyoming, recording 1,192 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns from scrimmage. In terms of stats, he had one of the most decorated college careers a running back could have, as he posted 4,446 total rushing yards to go along 35 touchdowns on the ground. He also had 929 receiving yards and caught four touchdowns in his five-year collegiate career.
The Cardinals have had three ASU running backs on their roster in the last decade. Most recently they rostered Eno Benjamin after he was drafted by Arizona in the seventh round of the 2020 Draft, but was cut last season after recording 417 yards and three touchdowns on the ground over his two seasons for the Cardinals. Former Sun Devil D.J. Foster also played for the Cardinals from 2017 to 2020 after he was signed off of the Patriots’ practice squad to his hometown team and appeared in 23 games for Arizona. Marion Grice, another former ASU running back, played for the Cardinals from 2014 to 2015 and scored two touchdowns with them in his stint.
“Xazavian Valladay originally started his career at Wyoming before transferring to Arizona State for the 2022 season. Valladay’s 2022 season at Arizona State was his most productive season, rushing for 1,192 yards, 16 touchdowns, and receiving for another 289 yards and two touchdowns. Valladay is a quick accelerating back that can get vertical and create a big play with only a small crease in the defense.
Valladay’s best usage appears to come on run plays designed to attack the edges of the defense. This is where Valladay can use his speed to attack the outside and has shown multiple times the ability to turn the corner and outrun defenders to pick up significant yardage. Valladay has a long stride and appears to effortlessly outrun defenders at times. Valladay has a slashing, one-cut type of running style that could be an effective tempo switch-up as a complementary back to a more traditional running back.
Valladay has a lean frame that combined with his upright running style limits how much power he can run with. Valladay’s ability to break tackles and contact balance both appear to be average and his usage as an in-between-the-tackles runner did not provide the same results as when Valladay was utilized as a runner who attacks the edges.
Ultimately, Valladay has many likable traits as a runner, but his value as running back will vary from team to team. Valladay will be best utilized in an outside running scheme where he can use his best asset: his speed. Valladay’s usage in the passing game has been minimal, but if he can prove to have value running routes and being a receiving threat out of the backfield, it will further help his value as a player in the NFL.”
If he is drafted, Valladay would be the second straight running back from ASU taken in the NFL Draft after Rachaad White was selected 91st overall by the Buccaneers last season. Valladay could turn out to be a big steal for a team late in the NFL Draft, which will run from April 27 to April 29.
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Brendan Mau is a college sports insider and general assignment reporter for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on twitter via @Brendan_Mau