A continuing series of scouting reports for potential Cowboys draft picks.
Name: Mohamed Ibrahim
Weight: 203 pounds
Combine Results: Did not participate
Mohamed “Mo” Ibrahim has been a mainstay in Big Ten football for the last five years, and now the workhorse running back is ready to try the next level. As a three-star recruit out of Maryland, Ibrahim picked Minnesota over Iowa and Kentucky.
After redshirting his first year on campus, Ibrahim was pushed into a starting role when the top rusher, Rodney Smith, went down with an injury. Ibrahim responded with a dominant year, racking up nearly 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns. The next year, Ibrahim shared carries with Smith, now healthy.
But when Smith left for the NFL, it was all Ibrahim’s show. He returned to his dominant ways, firmly establishing himself as one of college football’s premier rushers. Unfortunately, the next year saw him tear his Achilles in the first game. But he made a full recovery in time for one last hurrah in 2022, leading the Golden Gophers to a nine-win season.
Burst: Ibrahim isn’t going to blow anyone away with his first step, but he isn’t lacking burst either. He’s not a speed guy, and that’s reflected in his burst. But when he makes a cut, he carries a ton of forward momentum with him. He’s also gotten a lot of mileage off his ability to explode into contact as well.
Balance: Ibrahim plays with a low center of gravity, perfectly leveraging his thick frame. Bringing him down is no easy task, as he has excellent balance. Ibrahim had the 10th-most broken tackles this past year and totaled the most yards after contact of any back in this draft. That also played a big role in Ibrahim posting the second-most runs over 10 yards this past season despite not being the fastest guy on the field.
Lateral Agility: Ibrahim has elite lateral agility. Minnesota ran a ton of zone rushing concepts, and part of that is because he is so good moving laterally. He’s not a runner who sprints to the edges and stretches defenses, but rather a meticulous mover with precise footwork who sets up the defense behind his offensive line and then cuts through the right hole.
Ball Carrying: He fumbled twice this past year, which matched his total number of fumbles over the previous four seasons. Fumbles are not an issue for him, especially when considering how much contact he absorbs.
Pass Catching: This is not a factor for Ibrahim, never catching more than eight passes in a year. He only ever dropped one pass in five years, but he also had a very underdeveloped route tree. It’s hard to tell how much of that is on Ibrahim versus the scheme Minnesota ran. Either way, he is not someone with a lot to offer as a receiver out of the backfield.
Blocking: Ibrahim saw a high level of exposure as a blocker, though much of it came on RPO plays, thus muddying the waters on his actual ability as a pass protector. That said, he has the size, strength, and tenacity to be a good blocker as a running back.
Athleticism: Ibrahim is not an elite athlete, which likely played a role in his decision not to participate in drills at the combine. But his style of play isn’t heavily reliant on athleticism anyway. He’s a hard-nosed, downhill, between-the-tackles runner who had more than enough functional athleticism to burn several very good Big Ten defenses over the years.
Processing: He is a very savvy runner with great vision, especially in zone rushing concepts. He also has a great sense for where he’s at on the field and where the first down marker is; he led the nation in runs for a first down this past year.
Intangibles: Ibrahim was one of the most respected players in the locker room, and a team captain to boot. Coaches frequently showered him with praise for setting the standard every day. The rub with Ibrahim, and the reason he may not be drafted until the sixth round, is that he’s got an awful lot of tread on the tires. He has 867 career carries, an Achilles tear and other, smaller injuries along the way, and will be 25 by the time he makes his NFL debut. Ibrahim has a lot to offer NFL teams, but questions about his longevity will prevent him from being an early selection.