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Tar Heels NFL Draft Profile: TJ Logan

The speedy running back is shooting up draft boards.

NCAA Football: The Citadel at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

If you’d told me two years ago that I’d be writing this article, I’d have laughed in your face. At the time, the Tar Heels’ reigning leader both in carries and in yards was quarterback Marquise Williams, and it wasn’t particularly close. T.J. Logan was the primary running back, but he was totally unremarkable in terms of offense.

When it seemed like nearly every carry was a read-option play, getting five yards per carry was pretty easy, as well-coached as the offense was. Logan looked thoroughly unremarkable: he frequently went down at first contact, didn’t seem to change directions much, and absolutely could not push through the line of scrimmage. Many UNC fans will remember goal-line snaps with Logan in the game and Elijah Hood inexplicably on the bench, telegraphing to defenses that Williams would be taking this one. Logan was a useful kickoff returner, having netted three touchdowns over his first two years, but as a running back, he seemed utterly ordinary.

At some point late in his junior year, though, when it seemed that Hood’s breakout had relegated him to a much lower spot in the pecking order, something clicked for Logan: he figured out that he had the ability to be the most electric guy on the field when he got in space, and he started using it. It started against N.C. State, when this happened:

ACC Network

That simple juke that caused two NCSU defenders to fall over each other was a sign. Logan, for the first time, was not just a track star on a football field taking advantage of a gimmicky offense. He created this touchdown with his ability in the open field. Logan, later in that quarter, created another long touchdown by cutting back across the entire field, breaking an arm tackle on the way. I won’t embed that clip for fear of early saturation, but you can see it here. We were seeing a new Logan, one who could both evade defenders and punish the lazy ones, instead of just taking what he was given. As he entered his senior year, the hope was that we’d see this Logan instead of what we had seen for two and a half years.

And thankfully, from the very first game of the season, this hope was fulfilled. Logan rebounded from a career low in carries and yards (but a career high in yards per carry, thanks largely to that NCSU game) to form an effective thunder-and-lightning combination with Elijah Hood, and even stepped up to be a decent, if uninspiring, lead back when Hood went down with injury. He finished the year with career high totals in carries and touchdowns at a healthy 5.7 yards per carry clip. Along the way, we saw many of the kinds of plays that excited Tar Heels fans in 2015, like this one:


Logan had always had speed, but now he was showing the agility and flexibility that he had needed in order to maximize it. He was also becoming an extremely capable receiver both out of the backfield and, occasionally, lined up on the line of scrimmage. In 2016, Logan had a career-high 29 receptions, 3 of them for touchdowns. While UNC had one of the best receiving corps in the nation, this was still a valuable asset to the team, something else teams had to game plan for. It also allowed the team to get Logan in space without having to create holes in the trenches, where he could use his speed to create chunk plays:

Sped up 2x to conserve frames

Logan helped his team to a 2nd-place finish in the Coastal Division, and graduated with a legitimate shot at playing at the next level, though he had little national attention. He was one of seven Tar Heels invited to the NFL Combine, and turned heads nationwide with the fastest 40-yard dash among players who registered at the Combine as running backs: a blazing 4.37, 95th percentile at his position. His standing broad jump was well above average as well, his 121’’ (10’1’’) leap put him in the 73rd percentile among running backs in the NFL, according to Mockdraftable. His overall athletic profile puts him at the 62nd percentile according to the Nike SPARQ formula, which, for a small, speedy back, is very good. Logan impressed at UNC’s Pro Day as well, wowing scouts with his agility, quick feet, and pass-catching. His offseason has gone as well as you could imagine, and he has gone from being considered a fringe prospect to firmly entrenching himself in mid-round conversation.


  • Straight-line speed. It’s not the most important attribute for a lead back, but in the niche that Logan will fill for some team as smaller change-of-pace back (Logan measured in at the Combine at 5’9’’ and 196 pounds), it’s vital. No back in the 2017 class is faster than Logan. In addition to having a high top speed, Logan is able to accelerate to top speed very quickly out of his cuts and explode through holes or past blocks on the outside.
  • Agility: Logan has displayed very good cutting and change-of-direction ability in his last 1.5 years. He frequently wrong-foots oncoming defenders and can beat defenders to the edge, even when they take good angles, with a simple hesitation, if he can’t beat them outright with his speed
  • Hands: Logan has good hands both behind the line of scrimmage and well beyond it. He catches the ball with receiver-like technique, and doesn’t often drop passes.
  • Versatility/Scheme fit: Logan’s primary experience is in a spread offense, and he would do best in an offense that has a zone blocking-oriented playbook in terms of running the ball. As the NFL is evolving towards exactly that, Logan’s future role is clear. His ability to split out wide will also intrigue NFL teams, much like with Christian McCaffrey (albeit at a smaller scale).
  • Special Teams: Logan is also an accomplished returner, having returned 5 kickoffs for touchdowns over his career and averaging close to 33 yards a return his senior year. Though the kickoff return may be on its way out, Logan’s skills might be transferable to punt returns, and are certainly worth trying out.
  • Pass Protection: While Logan isn’t the best pass protector, he is a very willing one. He tends to throw himself at blitzers as opposed to picking them up, buying his quarterback an extra half second but not much more. Pass blocking can be taught, however, and attitude is one of the most important parts of it.

Draft Projections:

While Logan heard from some teams at his Pro Day that his name might be called as early as the third round, most media outlets don’t have him quite that high.

  • CBS Sports ranks him as their 19th best running back and projects him in the 5th-6th rounds.
  • Draft Countdown has him as their 15th-ranked running back and a top-200 prospect overall, landing him firmly in the 5th round.
  • After the Combine, Mel Kiper Jr. said he was considering moving Logan into his top-10 backs, which could merit a selection as early as the fourth round.