The fullback position in the NFL is certainly not en vogue, but it’s also not extinct. Players like George Aston can carve out significant roles.
The fullback position is not as prominent in the NFL today as it was at one point in time when powerful running games dominated and the passing attack played second fiddle.
With the way teams raid the air offensively, players like George Aston have had to find ways to create new roles within their respective offenses.
Aston was an undrafted free agent pickup for the Denver Broncos after the 2019 NFL Draft. Apparently, the Broncos at least want to push 2016 sixth-round draft pick Andy Janovich, who has become a very good fullback and special teams player his first three years in the league.
Janovich was also one of the team’s captains last year.
With Janovich in a contract year this year, the Broncos are understandably keeping one eye on the future. They could re-sign Janovich after the season, or they could perhaps keep Aston at a discount rate.
He’s got to prove he can do more of this:
That video by the Falcons is their head coach Dan Quinn breaking down tape of one of their draft picks Qadree Ollison.
How did Ollison become an NFL Draft pick in addition to his exceptional running back skills? I’m sure he’d be the first one to tell you big George Aston played a role in his success. Take a look at that video for some awesome blocks and field vision from the fullback, and watch how Aston earned himself an NFL contract despite playing a position that is bordering on extinction.
Specifically the last play Quinn highlights there, Aston is playing a traditional fullback role on a zone stretch concept and he eats up the middle linebacker whose responsibility is to fill the gap.
Ollison follows Aston through the hole and takes it to the house for six.
Aston also showed his value throughout this career — which was hindered by injuries in 2017 — as a receiver and short-yardage runner.
I looked up game logs from Aston’s career to find out what games he made the biggest impact in, and I was greatly pleased to find that arguably his most impactful game as a receiver came in Pitt’s biggest win of the last decade, a win over the eventual National Champion Clemson Tigers.
As you will see in those extended highlights, Aston used his pass catching ability and run after the catch ability to make some big plays against the Tigers, keeping Pitt in position to eventually win the game 43-42.
Aston was utilized in this game as a receiver on shovel passes coming in motion, and there is certainly going to be a role like that for him at the next level.
As physical as this guy is, it’s surprising Pitt didn’t get him the ball more as a receiver in 2018. He had just 15 catches in his year coming back from injury when he missed the entire 2017 season.
Aston’s versatility and special teams ability give him an edge, in my estimation, for a practice squad spot. It seems unlikely the Broncos would unseat a player like Andy Janovich who has proven himself a very good fullback in the NFL, but they may like Aston as a guy who could play a similar role down the road a bit.
It will be fun to watch this guy play in the preseason, as he craves contact and is as tough as you will see a player in today’s game.