2022 NFL Draft - Running Back - Ranking & Analysis
Updated: Apr 28, 2022
Disclaimer - running backs are split into 2 primary types (early down power backs & 3rd down receiving backs) & fall into 2 broad schemes (zone or power/gap). I put ( * ) next to players that are likely Saints targets & scheme fits. I put (+) next to players that are scheme fits, but not necessarily players I'd target. RB is the only position that are ordered by "value adjusted" meaning the order in which I'd want them for the Saints.
*Brian Robinson Jr. Alabama
5th year SR who finally got a chance to start. 1200 YD in his last but 1st meaningful season. Talent is better than you'd expect for 5th year RB that 'had to wait.' That aspect of production has more to do with team depth than a knock on him. He blocks well, and flashes really smooth agility up the gut. Kind of a graceful runner. Fantastic balance, runs slightly upright, but uses his eyes well. Good vision and could be a very valuable pro. Has ability to make the 1st person miss and strength to run over a 2nd level defender. Can block on 3rd downs. Seems well coached in almost every phase of the game. Reliable, tough & usually makes the 1st person miss. In general he's a good tackle breaker. There's a lot more upside here than pre-draft rankings indicate. Most outlets show Robinson as a 5th/6th round prospect. I'm higher on him because of the blocking ability and overall attention to detail. He plays so hard and is the type of player you trust. He may not break games open with speed, but he could carry a good playoff team. The fact a team might be able to draft that type of impact late presents real value. I could see him going as high as the 4th round regardless of how he measures at combine/pro day and no lower than the 6th. He has a unique 'weaving' ability, to move east/west while continuing momentum north. He squirms out of tackles well via balance. So many displays of good balance. As far as pro comps, his traits/frame/potential impact remind me a little bit of when Rashaad Jennings came out of Liberty. Jennings was projected to be drafted late, but anyone watching him at Liberty knew he had the size adjusted athleticism to develop into an RB1 and the traits to develop into a 3 down back. For whatever reason he fell in the draft. I could see a similar outcome with Robinson Jr even though he's a hair less speedy than Jennings. He's slightly more nimble approaching the line of scrimmage. He can get low and utilizes leverage well. He reminds me most of James Starks from Buffalo who went 6th round but became a good player and starter for the Packers. As far as team fits, the Texans seem like a good fit because they need a more efficient grinder to build an offense around.
Scout Grade - 3rd Round
Scout Comp - James Starks
*Kyren Williams Notre Dame
Productive early entrant rsSO coming off of two 1,000 YD seasons with 31 TDs. Averaged almost 40 CTH & 336 YD receiving each year too. Fantastic blend of balance and agility. Vision, field awareness and natural open field IQ. Finds yardage, extremely creative. Dangerous in space. His vision and ability to create yards from nothing, it applies to runs up the middle too. He navigates north south well, finds yards when nothing appears to be there. Not a banger, not gonna drive bodies forward, but he is just strong enough to fight through arm tackles and keep a defense honest 'up the gut.' Physically he reminds me of peak Dion Lewis (who was very underrated coming out of Pitt). Even though Williams is on the smaller side, I could see him being a dangerous multipurpose back as a pro and possibly a 3 down full time starter, despite his smaller size. He's patient, sometimes too much so. Kind of player you'd like to see with 10 to 15 carries & 5 to 10 catches. He's a former WR. Get him in space. Has some very creative high IQ plays with flashes that are damn near like watching Barry Sanders or LeSean McCoy. Athletically, he's not that elite, but his best flashes are close to that elite level of agility. We're talking 199 pound RB who will still likely go round 2 or round 3 at the latest. Part of his allure is blocking. He's one of the better pass blockers in this class. Fits the modern game. Someone may get a steal similar to how the Saints got Alvin Kamara in the 3rd round. Williams is not a pure speed burner but he is explosive in tight space. Follows his blocks well, can make you miss in a phone booth. Not the type of runner whos built to overpower defenders, however in goalline situations he runs low and his good use of leverage allows him to fall forward for tough yards in short situations. His best attribute is balance. He makes some cuts that are just jaw droppingly awesome and it all revolves around his ability to maintain balance. As far as pro comps, he's like Dion Lewis but might have more upside as a 1st and 2nd down runner because he is slightly more hard nosed up the gut. He's someone that may contend for rookie of the year if given the right opportunity and team fit. His best fit would be with a good team that runs a spread offense like the Bills. I could also see a team like Dolphins or Jets (or a coach like Kyle Shanahan) falling in love with him. As a sleeper destination, I like the idea of him in Denver. Imagining him as the complimentary back to Javonte Williams would give the Broncos one of the most young dynamic backfields in the NFL. I do think his value will be most enticing to a good team though (like Buffalo) because he could convert a good offense into a great offense. As far as pro comps, he has some athletic traits like Gio Bernard, but physical aspects of his game are closer to Ray Rice. Rice was drafted 55th, and I expect Williams to go in a similar part of the draft. Currently, he's projected around pick 80 but I expect him to measure well and climb. I'm on an island on this one, but he should be the 1st RB taken in this class.
Scout Grade - 3rd Round
Scout Comp - Dion Lewis
Long strider RB that run inside or out plus catch, very smooth. Constant threat in the flats, will be his QBs best friend. As a runner, he's patient so his athleticism doesn't jump off the screen but I think he's got better speed than people realize. The grace and patience make him extremely deceptive athletically. White is a very tough runner who's compass reads north; that's what separates him from the rest of the class. So many collegiates rely on speed and get east/west...not White. He is efficient and goes north. Outstanding balance which allows him to make people miss in the hole. Flashes that make me think he'll have a nice 10 yard split in his 40 yard dash and a good vertical leap. I think his game translates to the pro game really well. 1 year wonder, but low mileage isn't a bad thing given the position. White's running style, you'd think 220 pound back, yet he's listed at 210. He looks bigger, plays bigger. Even if the listed height/weight is correct, and even though 6'2 210 is not a common frame for a bellcow RB, White is someone that regardless of measureables has potential to be a 3 down back. He's more likely to make guys miss than run them over, but he finishes runs physically and falls forward through contact. There's some banger traits when he needs it. He should be ranked higher by most outlets. So much of what he does well can't be measured: vision, balance, toughness. Deceptive in nearly every way. He could shock some people. Most projections show him graded as a 4th to 5th round player. I'd be okay taking a chance on him as early as late 2nd but more comfortably in the 3rd round. After that would be outstanding value. As a SR he finished with 1,000 YDs on only 182 carries & 15 TDs. He added 43 CTH for 456 YDs receiving & 1 TD. As a JR had 571 YDs & 8 TD on only 50 touches. His efficiency and start/stop ability will be noticed. Expect him to rise by draft day. Weighing in at 217 or higher would help his chances. As far as pro comps, he reminds me most of Matt Forte. He might not be quite as dynamic, but it's close. Stylistically, they're very similar. As far as team fits, he'd be a good fit for the Giants.
Scout Grade - 3rd/4th Round
Scout Comp - Matt Forte
*Tyler Badie Missouri
Whoa. Very explosive player in space. Hits the hole with great burst and is a nightmare on screens. He has a really high screen IQ where he finds yards in the open field. He can run traditionally between the tackles too. I expect his main role will be on screens and pass catching, however he does have just enough strength to be able to contribute on early downs and keep the defense honest. I don't think he'll be a liability up the gut. He's a tough runner that really fights hard for his yards. Not big, but has balance, speed, vision, and desire. Pretty explosive too. Dude can cut and make people miss in a phone booth. So many plays you think are dead, yet he makes a guy miss and gets upfield. Ideal usage would be 8 carries & 8 catches type player. Mostly 3rd down value, but not a liability on 1st and 2nd downs. Although Badie may not offer much pass blocking, he's much stronger than size would indicate. He's compact and will bounce off arm tackles. Need to take him seriously because his frame doesn't tell the whole story. Small player but runs big. Badie's gamebreaking ability to make people miss in space will make him an easy fan favorite. He can find a 2nd gear too. As far as pro comps, most people may view him as a 3rd down back like Nyheim Hines because he's easy to scheme "mismatches" but I get a similar feeling watching Badie to Ahmad Bradshaw where there may be potential for him to be an every-down back despite his smaller size. They're very similar players. Badie could go as high as 3rd/4th round based on tape alone. Size and role considered, 4th round or after is where he'd present the most value. The 6th/7th round projections seem way too low for someone this dynamite in space. In college, he was sort of an all purpose player for his 1st 3 seasons where he averaged about 700 YD & 6 TD per year, but than exploded as a SR with 1942 YD & 18 TD at 6.0 YPT. As far as team fits, I could see a team like the Panthers liking him a lot as Christian McCaffrey insurance/compliment/depth.
Scout Grade - 3rd/4th Round
Scout Comp - Ahmad Bradshaw
One year wonder that came out of nowhere to have a big senior season with1400 YDs & 12 TDs. Converted from Linebacker to Running Back. "Stole the job." He runs tall; you'd think he was 6'0 215. He is a lean, muscular build for over 220. Very compact. There's not much game film but from what's available, he appears to have requisite athleticism to provide value on early downs. Above average athlete in space. I like his downhill burst. He hits top speed quickly and gets physical; doesn't shy away from contact and will lower his shoulder to run over 2nd level defenders. On many plays he breaks multiple tackles. He's not a pile mover, but strong when it comes to 'mono e mono' open field moments. Flashes RB1 upside, which is crazy considering he's only played RB for 1 year. He's graded on most outlets as a 7th round/UDFA, but I think he could run a good 40 time and climb draft boards. He has some 3rd-5th round speed/strength traits. One of the best in the class at converting speed to power. Smith is a nasty downhill runner. His vision has room for improvement, where he'll occasionally miss cut back lanes, but being new to the position might mean potential to improve. Even on some catches he looked natural in space, he's a good athlete. He has good contact balance, and his best moments are when he lowers his shoulder. Many great physical moments. As far as pro comps he reminds me of Alexander Mattison & Isaiah Crowell, but I see potential to outproduce his comps. His best fit might be a team like the New Orleans Saints as a long term Mark Ingram replacement.
Scout Garde - 6th/7th Round
Scout Comp - Isaiah Crowell
*Breece Hall Iowa State
6'1 220 Oh yea. I like this guy immediately. He reminds me of Rashaad Penny when he came out of San Diego State. That's not an insult either. As a prospect Penny was a 1st round pick who was thickly built, agile tackle breaker that could pinball off of tacklers in open field...all similar to Hall. He gets north south, exhibits patience to pick his spots. He's not uber explosive, but he's got enough vision and agility to be a threat. Good value on early downs mostly due to savvy. He's got burst up the middle but doesn't have the 2nd gear speed that top drafted RBs usually display. Might be 4.5 or even 4.6 speed. Has good traffic navigation IQ and takes what the defense gives him. Strong enough to break tackles, but not the type to move a pile. Short yardage situations he's more savvy than powerful. Can he hit the middle of a stacked box and move it forward a yard? Not sure. He's not really a contact player; he avoids contact, which is how he's been durable. Looks above average as a receiver. Flashes soft hands and good feel after the catch. Follows blocks really well. My biggest concern is he can be too patient as a runner. Patience is good, but too much can feel like looking instead of attacking. He flashes burst but won't wow anyone with speed. What Hall does best is he runs low and can hit the hole hard. Finished his Iowa State career with 4,675 YDs & 56 TDs on 800 touches in 3 seasons. Teams may be concerned with usage & lack of explosion, so I could see him going around 4th round, after late 3rd round would be decent value; earlier than that feels too high. He runs smart and low so he may be built in a fashion that allows more tread on his tires, durability. As far as pro comps, he reminds me most of Montee Ball. Both were thick runners with balance, vision, and some wiggle. Hall has similar traits but the upside to outproduce his comps. Ball and Penny sound like insults, but they're not. Their reasons for not excelling had to do with things other than their 'game' (injury & conditioning). As far as potential impact, I could see him having Malcolm Brown type floor & Deshaun Foster type upside. Not fast but athletic up the hole. Hall's a hard player for me to grade. I could arguably put him 2nd overall in this class, and I could just as easily argue he belongs day 3 pick. He's a good player but not someone I'd build my power running offense around. He's more savvy, which can border on tentative. I'm not sure how that translates to the pro game, being that he's in a smashmouth type body. Big guys with agility are the easiest to be wrong on. I used to get enticed by it a lot more, but after enough Royce Freeman's don't translate, I value attitude a lot more now. Hall could benefit from more smashmouth attitude. Hard to argue with the savvy production, durability though. Best team fit would be the Giants because Barkley is often injured, and Hall fits that style of big agile back that can catch. He'd also make sense for Chargers, Seahawks, Lions.
Scout Grade - 2nd/3rd Round
Scout Comp - Montee Ball
*Zamir White Georgia
Runs with some of the best pad level in class. 1st back where I 'noticed' the low pad level. So many run high that you almost forget it's value until a guy like White reminds you. It shows on short yardage situations where he really can lower the boom. He's patient and knows how to follow his blocks. He's fast in space too. I love Zamir White's running style. If I ran a team I might consider drafting a player like him and hiring Frank Gore to be his RB coach. It's that low, brooding bowling ball downhill style that converts speed into power. White is a valuable prospect who's I think is currently very underrated. Most outlets show him undrafted; only one outlet has him with a 5th round grade. I lean towards the higher side and think he could climb boards by draft day. He's explosive, has low mileage, productive as SO & JR vs SEC competition, and I liked watching White carry his offense without a QB to a championship win over Alabama. That alone should get teams' attention. White should go as high as 4th round. What I like most is how he bounces off of contact and keeps his legs driving in the 2nd level. He's shifty approaching the LOS, can squeeze through tight spaces, and presents more short yardage value than people might expect. Most short yardage backs do it through brute force and power, but White may survive through his ability to hit the hole hard, convert speed to power, savvy to find space and desire to fall forward through contact. As far as pro comps, he's similar to Jeff Wilson. White is fast. I think he's going to run a good 40 and climb draft boards. There's no way he's 450th ranked prospect like some outlets show. Than again Jeff Wilson his comp was fast/strong but went undrafted so it's possible. This is a strength/speed prospect. He may not measure well on other traits like shuttle drill, cones, or broad jump; he may not have a massive frame; but he's a fast, physical downhill runner who runs tougher than his size. Stylistically, his description fits some great backs like Dalvin Cook for example was an undersized speed/strength prospect that didn't measure well on other traits and didn't have a big frame. You can't overlook desire. If I had to define White's game in one word, it's toughness. He grinds for his yardage. There's an overall feel I like where he dishes much more contact than he absorbs. He's mostly an early down back at this point, and that may be his role long term, but you hope that he'll continue to work on 3 down traits because there's nothing better than undrafted sleepers who come out of nowhere to be RB1s. As far as team fits, he'd be a good fit for the Ravens, Commanders, Cardinals, & Lions. There's RB1 upside here. Just needs to become more reliable blocking and receiving so he sees the field on 3rd downs. White had committee production. In total yardage, as a FR had 428 YD & 3 TD. As a JR had 816 YD & 11 TD. As a SR had 931 YD & 11 TD.
Scout Grade - 4th/5th Round
Scout Comp - Jeff Wilson
Very underutilized at UF. Played all 4 years, averaged about 500 YDs per year. Had 12 TDs as a SR. I spoke to a friend who went to UF and he said most fans begged to see more of Pierce & blamed the coach for not using him more. He made the underutilization sound criminal. Pierce flashes ability to catch and make plays in space as well as strength to break tackles. He has good balance and can run low. He's a brute and strong player for his size, will break arm tackles and will take on a pile of defenders head on. When I 1st started this process, Pierce was ranked as a undrafted prospect. I doubted that based on one play: a screen pass vs Mizzou where he looked like a player with 2nd/3rd round athletic traits and it took 9 attempts to get him down. There's need for refinement; he might be more of a late round prospect as a pure runner, but you like the raw size, strength, speed. Pierce is a developmental ATH with high upside. Strength, balance, agility, low mileage, leverage, toughness, burst, and high YPC in the SEC. The fact he can catch and looks natural on screens is a bonus. I'd like him to hit the hole harder more consistently; there are flashes of good north south vision and ability to weave through traffic but overall he could improve in how he attacks the line of scrimmage. That worries me slightly. For someone who is clearly fast, he doesn't always play fast. Some people see that as an indicator of patience, but I worry when it borders on indecision. That weakness can be coached up. He has what can't be taught. For perspective, he weighs 215 yet squats 595 pounds. Think about that for a second. Almost 3 times his body weight? Unreal strength. He flashes explosion too which you'd don't usually see with backs that strong. Not an overly creative runner (although there are some fantastic, fancy flashes), and I think that's the one thing that you hope to develop. You want him to play faster downhill (mental processing). He's someone you pick based on tools and hope to coach up. The sky is sort of the limit because of the tools. I'm not sure how well he'll do early in his career, but I could see him developing into a 3 down back. At worst he has value as a physical receiver in space so the floor is pretty high. As far as pro comps, one player who was really similar is Jerick McKinnon (combine warrior who needed to develop as a pure runner). McKinnon might've been an option QB when he came out, if I remember correctly, but he was very fast and very strong especially for his size...he just needed refinement. It never materialized in his case. Pierce is similar from a measurables standpoint, and carries that same type of risk, however he's the most athletic RB in this class and has potential to outperform his comp. He's a high risk, high reward prospect that from a tools standpoint should be the 1st RB taken in this class. I think he'll measure really well on combine drills (especially 40 YD dash, bench press, broad jump). As far as team fits he'd be a good fit for the Bills, Chargers, & Falcons.
Scout Grade - 4th/5th Round
Scout Comp - Jerick McKinnon
N Carolina AT&T
Stout squatty build RB with good agility and explosion for his build. Can separate when needed, functional acceleration. Watching vs. D2 competition can be deceptive but Martin seems like a nice combination of speed, physicality. He makes the 1st guy miss. Intriguing size, skills, athlete. Draftable traits and production, like 6th/7th round traits, but small school has him universally regarded as a UDFA. Reminds me a little bit of Chris Ivory. Not quite as fast as Ivory but same style of physicality where he will absolutely lower his shoulder and demolish defenders on 2nd level. Had some beautiful shoulder dip/smashes, often in succession, like play after play. This is the exact type of runner who I'd target as a priority free agent if he measures below a 4.68 forty yard dash because he could might be able to develop into a RB1 despite his universal "undrafted" grades. His speed is hard to pulse. On long runs as a JR like versus Alcorn State he looked like he had low 4.5 speed, yet his last year he didn't appear as fast. It's possible he was playing hurt. He's tough, thick, potentially explosive, and game is oriented North. Had 1,246 YDs as a JR w/ 20 TDs at a whopping 8.3 YPC (led the country). Regressed to 522 YDs & 4 TDs in his final year so may have dealt with injury or off field issues. Supreme physicality, runs with a Marshawn Lynch type attitude. One of the most relentless runners in this class. He really does not like to go down easily or be tackled. There are so many plays where you think it's over, yet he continues to fight for additional yardage. Just shifty enough to make people miss in space too. Runs with good leverage, gets extremely low when breaking down in space to change direction. The main adjustment as a pro will be hitting the hole full speed. He's patient but may need to become less patient and more attacking as a pro. As far as pro comps he reminds me of a player like Darrel Williams who isn't the most athletic, but is really tough and well rounded. Williams went undrafted out of LSU yet was the 22nd most productive back in the NFL this year. I see similar if not better upside for Martin. Probably one of the best value RBs in the class, but he's the type of prospect where the combine measurements will matter because it's harder to tell what kind of speed he has when it's vs D2 type competition. If he ran 4.5, I'd actually increase his grade by a round or two. If he runs 4.69 or worse, I'd move him to UDFA grade, thus making him the only RB in this class who's grade is dependent on combine. Most guys I let the tape talk, but D2 combined with JR year being good and SR year not so good, makes it almost mandatory to know what you're dealing with. I lean towards upside though.
Scout Grade - 7th Round/UDFA
Scout Comp - Darrell Williams/Chris Ivory
Kenneth Walker III (+) Michigan State
Outstanding vision, very creative runner who finds angles and open space that others wouldn't. Not overtly strong or fast. Agile, tough. Blocks with effort in pass pro but can get overpowered so you want him chipping but not blocking on an island. Similar to Devin Singletary, gamebreaking ability at the college level due to vision & creativity more so than athletic trait(s). Well-rounded, consistent, productive. Best athletic attribute is change of direction. Best overall attribute is vision. High spatial IQ. Strong enough to break arm tackles, but not a people mover. Graceful runner, not bursty. Walker led the country with 1,646 YD on 264 carries with 18 TDs + 13 CTH for 89 YD and 1 TD receiving. Very consistent. On the few catches I saw, he looked natural; lack of receiving may have more to do with role than lack of ability. Most analysts say his blocking is a weakness, but I can tell he's invested time into his pass protection because he made some fantastic blocks too. The lack of blocking narrative isn't quite accurate from what I saw. The entire defense has to keep containment because he is so good at attacking a stacked box where it looks like nothing is available, yet somehow finds an outlet lane and breaks it outside or upfield. His 1st step quickness is not as explosive as others, but his vision is noticeably advanced, and he can cut on a dime and make people miss in space. He runs low and knows how to utilize leverage in breaking tackles. He's similar to Michael Carter from UNC last year. Both were gamebreakers at the collegiate level, but have power limitations as pros. Both did a lot of their damage breaking runs to the outside, which is harder to do at the pro level. I wonder how that will translate. Maybe he can still be effective breaking runs to the outside, but it will be for 6 yard gains instead of 60. That's possible. It's also possible that he'll have to develop more strength to make it work. In his defense, he consistently gets to the 2nd level. So although there's no 1 athletic trait that jumps off the screen, it's hard to ignore his production. Teams that are highest on Walker may view him like a potential Aaron Jones, but I'm not sure he's that level of physicality 'up the gut.' I see his shiftiness approaching the line of scrimmage and in the open field; I see his toughness where he'll lower his shoulder and fight through contact, but I wonder if his build and athleticism fit the role and durability required to be an early down back in the pros. Any time a RB goes top 3 rounds I'd hope for at least one explosive attribute. He's not slow, there's some burst (seems 4.6 but might be moving slightly faster than he appears). I do wonder how Walker will fit? He'll be used in a conventional 1st and 2nd down role, but he doesn't really have those traits in terms of strength, size or explosion, nor does he have an ideal build. As far as pro comps, size/speed/style is very similar to Devin Singletary who starts but Buffalo fans are very mixed on him. As an athlete and runner, he also reminds me of Austin Eckler (just as a runner only, not as a receiver). For both comps, success is predicated on non-measurables like toughness, vision, balance, & creativity. More so than any other back Walker needs to fit wherever he goes. A team where he could play in a committee might work best like Miami or Washington. He's the kind of prospect I could see a bad team reaching on because they're overly consumed by college production. He's a great college player, but I'm not as high on him as other outlets. I think there's a lot of risk here considering most outlets have him graded as the top RB in this class. I don't see that, and think there are a bunch of other backs that have better attributes for the pro game. He's someone that looks more like a 4th round back, yet he may go as high as round 2/3. Scout Grade - 3rd/4th Round
Scout Comp - Devin Singletary
Isaiah Spiller (+) Texas A&M
Spiller is an early entrant as a JR who started all 3 years for TX A&M and finished with 3,578 YDs from scrimmage with 26 TDs. He was consistent, reliable vs. SEC defenses. Spiller is fast, shifty but runs somewhat tall; you can tell he models after Adrian Peterson via tall running style, wearing #28. Not APs power but Spiller has that style of burst and explosive agility. As a receiver he has some really tight routes. He can cut in space as well as anyone in this class. The agility is so emphatic that some teams may rank him 1st on their boards. He'll lower his shoulder and break arm tackles too. You have to wrap him up. Has natural vision and is dangerous finding cutback lanes. He turns some dead plays into 5 yard gains, plays where he practically runs 20 yards "side to side" in order to gain 5. He weaves his way through defenders more so than running through them. Not a powerful back or a banger but he is pretty physical, tough. He relies most on patience, change of direction, agility, vision, and burst. 3rd downs are where he'll be most valuable. On 1st and 2nd downs, he may be more "change of pace" and may need to be paired with a goalline back in committee. As far as pro comps, he's similar to Tony Pollard from Memphis (a speed back who runs high but tough) & Kenyan Drake from Alabama (frame, physically). Drake may give an idea of potential role, style, & impact. As far as downside, there are flashes of Buck Allen from USC who never developed the hard nosed aspects of the position. Spiller is explosive, versatile enough to plug and play and to contribute to a backfield early in his career. Improving contact balance and adding strength would help his potential on early downs. He will also have to show that he can hit the hole with reckless abandon. When there's no big play available, I'd like to see him to attack, to be okay getting a yard or two instead of looking for a big play. He uses his eyes well and is only in those decisions because he has such great vision. He's patient as he approaches the line where you can really see him using his eyes. He relies on burst once he does see space, and agility and toughness to find yardage in the 2nd level. His style can result in negative plays while you wait for him to break the game open because he's waiting for space. On a lot of plays, the 1st defender brings him down which I don't love. I do like that he keeps his legs churning through contact and can fall forward. He's an apt receiver. Does a good job chipping as a blocker; provides good effort, physicality in pass pro. Best attribute is change of direction. Can make you miss in tight space. Gets better as the game goes on. Not usually the case with backs his style. Spiller's close to a complete back. I wish there was more power. He's more finesse than mauling, will be picked because he's dynamic. Speed traits may warrant a 2nd-4th round pick for a team that needs some juice but I'd aim for him in mid/late 3rd or early 4th round. He could fit in a variety of schemes, but I think his best fit might be the Broncos if they lose Melvin Gordon in free agency. TX A&M ran a spread, lot of single back. My favorite thing about Spiller's game is he is oriented North South. Most speed backs break runs to the outside too much but he is one of the few that navigate North. It's just sometimes he'll get stuck in East/West debate. He's a smart player overall. Sells run fakes well. Doesn't make many plays where I get mad. The more I saw, the more I liked. He grew on me especially with his angle IQ. There are some off the charts moments with unique uses of misdirection, where his runs looks more like a plan. He can diagnose different potential attack lanes and oscillate between with a slight lean in order to toy with defenders, almost the way a QB uses a quick pump fake in order to manipulate, pause defender movement. In the pros he'll have to learn that a consistently good option can be better than the boom/bust option. The plays I hoped can improve are when too much patience borders on indecision, where he'd get caught thinking instead of attacking. It's a fine line, which Spiller has the skills to push, but I wonder if he'll benefit from developing the mindset that 5 yards is a big play in the pros. Just make a lot of them. Scout Grade - 4th/5th Round
Scout Comp - Kenyan Drake
Early entrant JR who's way too below the radar. Blackshear is a very explosive player who looks natural on screens and in space. Good value as a developmental 3rd down back. He's projected to go undrafted but looks very similar to a player like Tyler Badie from Mizzou in this class. Underutilized at V Tech. Could be considered a top priority among UDFAs or even be a late round pick. He's one of the more athletic RBs in this class but it's a sort of all around juice. Agile in space, good speed, great burst. He can catch, get upfield, and make people miss. Physical enough to lower his shoulder. Gaining a few pounds of muscle might help his long term chances. He's more physical than his size would indicate. He doesn't run guys over but he finishes runs physically and has a knack for pinballing off of tackles. He's not the type of RB who you expect to be a bellcow but as a change of pace all purpose player, there's a lot of value here. He's a 5 year JR who finished last year with 1006 YD & 7 TD on only 158 touches.
Scout Grade - 7th Round/UDFA
Scout Comp - Andre Ellington
Teague has good patience and agility as he approaches the line of scrimmage. He's weaving as he approaches the line and has good vision approaching to find holes and cutback lanes. As a 1st and 2nd down back, I trust him to get to the 2nd level. Once he hits the 2nd level, he is a load to bring down. He gets low, is strong, yet has just enough wiggle and explosion to be dangerous in space. One of the best at breaking tackles from strength in this class; he's a bull. Flashes surprising burst for his size, even some displays of long speed. Overall, given his build, athleticism, vision, and physical running style, I would've expected him to be graded much higher in pre-draft projections like 4th or 5th round. Almost every outlet shows him going undrafted. His profile athletically and his game look close to Damien Williams who has been a valuable pro runner that's stepped in to handle RB1 duties. Williams was undrafted too though so it's possible Teague doesn't get picked despite the size and skillset. This is a talented runner who projects well to the pro game. Very underrated. There may be some off field issues we'll have to look into because his production was limited (4 years were 106 YDs, 849 YDs, 560 YDs, 367 YDs with a total of 17 TDs). Only had 11 catches in 4 seasons. Lack of production could be due to lack of pass blocking and 3rd down traits. He got mauled on some pass block attempts, and needs to do a better job staying anchored. He's a physical blocker, tried hard, and is generally aware, but needs to improve consistency. Add very little receiving production & that may be what's hurting his grade. As far as a pure runner on early downs, especially given lack of draft capital required to get him, I like Teague. One of the better value size/speed prospects in this class at RB. It'd be hard to imagine a player who can run like this not being drafted, but it happens. As far as pro comps his build and athleticism are similar to Corey Clement. He's not as imposing in stature, but his running style and traits are also similar to Robert Turbin.
Scout Grade - 7th Round/UDFA
Scout Comp - Robert Turbin/Corey Clement (without the receiving)
*Max Borghi Washington State
For a player projected to go undrafted, this dude has juice. Immediate impression reminds me of Danny Woodhead who went undradted. Borgi is similar size and style player although might not measure quite as exceptionally as did Woodhead. There's value here to be a potential sleeper as a 3rd down back. He's going to get YAC. His most explosive moments are immediately after the catch where he can get 0 to 100 quickly. Most of his best plays are in space in the flats. He's not going to be a banger, but given an opportunity with the right 3rd down receiving role, he could be dangerous. He plays best in the red zone too which you like. There's that extra "umf" and physicality as he gets closer to the end zone. You have to like that about his desire. Production was interesting. As a SO he had 127 carries for 880 yards rushing with 86 catches for 597 receiving. 86 catches is a lot for a college RB. But as a SR he had 160 carries and only 16 catches so Wash St lowered his utilization. I think he's a draftable player who's similar to Boston Scott from LA Tech. Scott went 6th or 7th round and Borgi probably should too. It's possible he goes undrafted though because small white RBs typically don't get drafted. Borgi presents some unique value for a team looking for a 3rd down & red zone threat. He's more quick than fast, but it wouldn't surprise me if he ran a fast enough forty. Despite his size, he also will lower his shoulder into contact and fight through tackles. Has a good stiff arm. Don't expect him to maul, but you can expect him to fight. He's the type of athlete that's functional athleticism. Meaning, I don't care how he measures at combine 40 yard dash because in the games on the field, he makes it happen. His value in the red zone won't go unnoticed. Despite only averaging 125 total touches per year, he finished with 41 TDs at 5.8 YPC. Very efficient player.
Scout Grade - 7th Round/UDFA
Scout Comp - Danny Woodhead
Kevin Harris (+) South Carolina
Kevin Harris is an absolute bull. Extremely powerful smash mouth between the tackles player who may lack the speed and explosion to make it work as a pro. It's right on the fringe though where you'd be ok taking a late round flier to find out, but he may be a 4.8 runner. If he runs below 4.7 I instantly, move him up to 7th round grade. He's the type of smash mouth player who you benefit from if you commit to 20 carries a game and let him wear a defense down. Think Michael Turner. He has enough juice to take it the distance as a collegiate, but not likely the type to break long ones as a pro. He may have been playing hurt last year because he appeared faster as a SO in 2020 than he did as a JR in 2021. Shows ability to catch outlet passes and navigate open field well. Has pretty good vision. I think at worst he could be a dangerous red zone player who'll get TDs. He's so strong. Next to Zach Charbonnet he's the most powerful runner in the class. He's versatile enough to catch on 3rd down too. Because he's not overly explosive, he may fall or even go undrafted, but Harris presents a lot of value the further he falls and especially as a UDFA. He's a draftable grade yet universally viewed as an undrafted player. If a team went as high as 5th or 6th round, I wouldn't have a problem with it because he could be a nightmare on 1st and 2nd downs between the tackles. The only issue is there were plays where you wanted to see more explosion upfield, plays where it felt like he was running at 80%. I question whether he was healthy. Hard player to grade because of it. If he was hurt and has more juice than some of the runs where he appears to be half speed, than he could be a lot better than people realize. If his top speed was somehow compromised between SO & JR years, than he'll be an undrafted player that will need to improve his burst. Watch his SO 2020 film where he had 1,100 YDs & 15 TDs on 6.2 YPC. He added 21 catches for 157 YDs. For contrast as a JR he only had 660 YDs & 4 TDs at 4.3 YPC. To me, that presents a lot of value because it's more likely he was playing hurt and unlikely he got worse. He was probably running half speed literally. His pure power and build remind me of former SC back Mike Davis or maybe even Michael Turner. He's not quite as athletic but is more physical and could develop into that style of runner. Michael Turner came to mind as a another who wasn't overly explosive but made up for it with pure physicality. I'm pulling for Harris to do the same because he's an easy player to root for.
Scout Grade - 7th Round/UDFA
Scout Comp - Samaje Perine/John Clay
Leddie Brown (+)
Not much game film available but 1st impressions are he can hit the hole with authority. Runs low in short yardage situations. Back to back 1,200 YD seasons with 25 TDs as JR & SR. Caught 67 passes (31 + 36) respectively. Runs with vision and anticipates defender angles well. Good player on screens. Overall, he's projected to go undrafted, which would make him on of the higher value RBs and priority undrafted free agents. Not overtly explosive (maybe a 4.5/4.6 runner), but he's decisive and plays fast. For his size he moves well enough to develop into a 3 down back. Brown has a knack for making people miss. He breaks the 1st contact tackles as much as anyone in this class. It's consistent too. I mean on almost every single run, the 1st guy does not bring him down. In fact after watching this entire class, Brown's ability to make the 1st guy miss stuck with me as much as any player or attribute. It's hard to ignore when a player picks up most of his yards after contact. His style I think makes it okay to put measurables aside. He runs hard between the tackles plus offers some 3rd down value as a try hard blocker and receiver. There's enough vision and balance and toughness to make up for the lack of burst traits. His 4.6 isn't a bad 4.6 either. He looks fluid. Athleticism is tough because some guys play faster at 4.6 than others who run 4.4. It's all about play speed. I wouldn't call Brown combine fast, but he plays fast enough to compete for a spot in a rotation. He's an underrated late round or undrafted prospect that could develop into a contributing player and possibly even RB1. He's the type of running back you trust. As far as comps, his build/height/weight/measurables nearly mirror Kareem Hunt, but his running style is slightly different and reminds me of Wayne Gallman. Brown would be a good fit for the Chiefs & Eagles who need some power out of the spread but still want RBs that can catch.
Scout Grade - 7th Round/UDFA
Scout Comp - Wayne Gallman
*Pierre Strong Jr. South Dakota State
Not a ton of tape available, but from the few highlights available, he shows good vision and durability. Had a lot of production, over 4,000 yards through 4 years of starting. 1,800 and 18 TDs as a SR, plus threw 9/9 on passing with 6 TDs. He's a hard prospect to grade because the production is enticing but the level of competition has to be factored. For example there are some long runs vs teams like UC Davis, but you get the feeling while watching that "he would've been tackled earlier vs pro speed." Flashes long speed and vision but more than likely he'll compete for a rotational change of pace role. As far as pro comps, might be like Salvon Ahmed who was highly productive coming out of U Dub, but might not be the type of guy you'd build an offense around. He's not a super creative runner. Talented enough to take what's given but rarely gets much more than what the defense is giving. Not the type to create production; best in space, will rely on surrounding cast more than most. Scout Grade - 5th/6th Round
Scout Comp - Salvon Ahmed
Follows his blocks well. Will lower the shoulder, physical. Similar style to former FSU runners: fast, physical, downhill. Has some explosive traits especially through the hole, but mostly a one speed runner and overall just an average to above average athlete which is why he could fall to round 7 or undrafted. Best attribute is change of direction, which is surprisingly fluid for his size. He's a strong stoutly built runner who runs with good balance. Low mileage throughout college career, best year was 800 YD year as a SR. Was efficient averaging over 6 YPC. Contributed with 25 CTH too as a receiver. He's powerful enough to fall forward in short yardage situations but not necessarily a pile mover. As far as build and traits, he's a possible RB1 & flashes 3 down potential. Built like Jay Ajayai in frame/size, although not nearly as explosive. Has some scheme versatility. Has sleeper potential.
Scout Grade - 7th Round/UDFA
Scout Comp - Alex Collins
Smooth runner with size and some downhill burst. May not have the fastest 40 yard dash, but he gets 0 to 100 almost instantly. Runs high, but effective. For teams that miss on Rachaad White, Jones could be an interesting consolation prize. He's a similar build and style runner to White although not the same pedigree. Jones ran for 1,040 yards on only 159 carries with 13 TDs. Displayed physical moments and enough burst to warrant a camp invite or even late round pick. His burst for his size is better than RBs who will get drafted ahead of him. Teams may be concerned with the program he's coming from, but as far as traits, he's intriguing combination of size/speed/strength. He could improve his balance, but converts speed to power as well as anyone in the class. Has to learn to get lower and utilize leverage especially in short yardage situations. There were some moments on the goalline where he got stopped that may have been different had he won the leverage battle. Also had some whiffs in pass protection that make you wonder if he's keeping his head in the game, like plays where he completely misses a free rusher. He's a project player for sure but has traits. There's room for improvement in vision, leverage, and 3rd down traits. Size and burst are draftable, so I could see a team picking him between rounds 5 and 7. A similar player he could watch/emulate is Mike Bell from Arizona. Bell was same size/build/style, yet really embraced being a hammer. It won him a super bowl. Jones has similar potential. Not much tape available, but I liked what I could find. Blocking was a liability though. He'll have to improve quickly in that regard to get more opportunities. He'd be a good fit for a team like the Lions that don't really have a downhill runner.
Scout Grade - 7th Round/UDFA
Scout Comp - Jerome Harrison
Tyler Allgeier (+)
Extremely productive player. As a 4th year SO had 1800 YD & 23 TDs. Pass blocks with good effort and contributes in the receiving game with 28 catches. Kind of a well rounded back that looks like he could be serviceable but my 1st impressions were not quite as high on his ceiling as most outlets. PFF for example had him graded as a top 100 prospect. He looked more like an undrafted player at first, however the more I watched, the more he grew on me. I love the production and size; he also has a downhill mentality. He's not overly creative or athletic. Displays good vision and outstanding size adjusted open field agility. He really can cut on a dime and gets really deep/low into his cuts. That's the part of his game that sticks out the most. A smooth athlete but not a lot of explosive traits as in downhill speed. Seems pretty high IQ. Doesn't miss many assignments and takes what's given. That said, he doesn't break tackles with strength like his size might indicate. He's more of a balanced rotational back. He'll lower his shoulder and has good contact balance, but he's as much finesse as he is mauler. Production is intriguing as a late rounder or priority undrafted free agent. I could see him making a roster, and with improvements in 3rd down traits, becoming a nimble all round back. He breaks tackles in space and his balance sticks out. He also gets his pad level low when needed. You just wish there was a little more power and leg drive to move the pile. In some ways he runs more like a 200 pound back than 220 (for better and worse). As far as pro comps he reminds me of Peyton Barber. Similar size, style & athleticism. Allgeier has slightly better balance and agility but doesn't quite run as strong. Similar comp for what to maybe expect as a pro. If I'm wrong/too low on one RB it's probably Allgiere. Some outlets show him going as high as 4th round, and I just don't see that kind of upside. However, he's right on the line athletically where it's possible in the right system that he develops into a starter. He just looks like RBs that went undrafted, so I wonder if teams are getting too wrapped up in his production and former position (he's a converted LB).
Scout Grade - 5th/6th Round
Scout Comp - Peyton Barber
Hassan Haskins (+) Michigan
Not much game tape available. Only his 5 TD game vs Ohio State and one other vs Penn State. Need more tape to make full assessment. From what I see on 1st impressions, he's a bigger back who is a high effort player. He hits the hole as hard as he can and blocks hard. He's a patient runner that waits for space to develop. He may be slightly too patient on some runs where you'd like to see him attack more emphatically. Looks fastest when he can build up momentum in space. Strong enough to fall forward through contact. That gives him some red zone and short yardage value. Despite his lack of explosive traits, he's surprisingly creative. He will have multiple flashes that surprise you: spinning off of tackles, fighting through contact, and especially getting the ball over the goal line. He's best around the goal line where he really has a nose for the paint. He is a willing physical blocker too who keeps his head on a swivel and is very aware in protection. Haskins isn't very explosive, but he's tough and he's one of the stronger backs. He is reliable and had a knack for making big plays, clutch plays. His best attribute is fighting through contact. On so many plays where guys have his feet wrapped up, he somehow slips out of it and continues upfield. Strong legs with solid balance. The issue is he lacks explosion. It's possible he's not explosive to really start as a pro, but he's creative and tough enough to warrant a mid to late round pick in order to find out because the potential reward/upside outweighs the capital required to get him. Finished last year with 1,327 YDs and 20 TDs. Added 18 catches. Didn't contribute too much before SR season where he had a combined 1,000 YDs and 10 TDs all purpose as SO & JR with no production as a FR. As far as pro comps, his ceiling and athletic traits are similar to Chris Carson (who went 7th round but became a starter). Because of that success, Haskins could climb in this draft to 5th or 6th round. He could get slightly overdrafted and you worry about athletic floor, which is similar to a player like Jordan Wilkins. Overall he has the size and physical style to develop into a 3 down back, just not enough juice to be a sure thing. Interesting prospect. The one other potential concern is durability. He is such a contact player that I worry how long he'll hold up. He has a nasty style and doesn't convert speed to power which results in absorbing as much damage as anyone in this class. That was sort of why guys like Trent Richardson didn't make it in the pros.
Scout Grade - 6th/7th Round
Scout Comp - Chris Carson/Jordan Wilkins
D'Vonte Price Florida International 6'2 215
5 year rotational player who averaged about 500 yards per year. Runs tough and somewhat upright but has a pro running style. Would benefit from a lower pad level. He runs hard and fights to get north south, keeps his legs churning through contact. He's nimble enough to make you miss with good stutter step cuts and smooth change of direction. Overall not super explosive or fast, but he's fast enough downhill. He's more athletic in 10 yards of space than he is in 40. Could translate to pro game well as a rotational player on early downs. With a little more balance and power he'd be a mid round prospect, but his athletic traits put him right on the cusp. It wouldn't surprise me if he developed into a RB1, but it wouldn't be the expectation. He'll likely be a late round pick or even udfa camp invite, and there is chance of pleasantly surprising a team and outperforming his grade. Very few games or even highlights available. Need more tape to make full assessment. 1st impressions are average to above average back with some upside. Not someone I'd target in draft, but I would target as a UDFA.
Scout Grade - UDFA
BELOW PROSPECTS = LOWER TIER OF TARGETS IMO. NOT NECESSARILY GUYS I THINK SAINTS SHOULD SEEK W/ DRAFT CAPITAL. ABOVE ARE MORE TOP TIER.
Sincere McCormick (+)
Early entrant as a JR. Monster production and durability over all 3 years. Almost 1,200 YDs as a FR, over 1,500 both SO & JR. Compact runner, follows blocks well, above average vision. Not much power as an up the gut runner, more of a change of pace type back. Has good flashes of creativity, making people miss in the backfield and finding yards after contact. Has some burst traits and agility. Not lots of long speed, but decent burst in the hole. Doesn't get flustered in traffic. His best moments are navigating the noise and somehow breaking loose from the pile. Not a strength runner, but good at pinballing off of defenders. Strong shoulders and above average balance.
Scout Grade - 7th Round
Scout Comp - Myles Gaskin
Ford is listed at 220 but you'd never know it by looking at him. Looks more like a 200 pound player. He has burst and even some long speed. Real juice here for his size. I also love the program he's coming from. Michael Warren was one of my favorite prospects in his class 2 years ago (although he never got an opportunity as a pro) and even last year Gerrid Doaks flashed good all around skills and athleticism. Ford did a great job taking over for those 2 with 1200 YD in his 1st chance to start as a SR, so technically he outproduced Doaks (who went 7th round last year). Ford can run a tad high when he gets in space and isn't the most nimble on a consistent basis. But he does flash some good moments of explosion albeit mostly straight line plays. You just would've liked to have seen better efficiency against low level competition. 3.6 YPC against teams like Tulane is slightly concerning. But he also had 187 on 18 carries against better teams like Houston (ranked 21) so it's very inconsistent production. Because of that he may fall. Most outlets show him as a 4th/5th round prospect, but I'm slightly lower on him because of the inconsistency vs the lower levels of competition he faced. He has 4th/5th round athletic traits, but as a pure runner looks more like an undrafted player. Size adjusted explosion and overall production are good but I want to see him oriented downhill more consistently. He had flashes but isn't the most creative. Could develop into a contributor, there's even slight RB1 upside if given the right opportunity and team fit. Athletically, he reminds me of Jonathan Williams from Arkansas. He's someone I wanted to like, but who's grade might be hurt by the system he played in. It seems like lack of creativity, however Cincy ran a lot out of the gun/spread which isn't most conducive to efficient production. Cincy's OL also wasn't the best power blocking unit. On a lot of Ford's runs, he didn't have great blocking. It's possible pro teams will be able to utilize him better, but overall he's not someone who's tape says "I gotta have him."
Scout Grade - 7th Round
Scout Comp - Jonathan Williams
Zonovan "Bam" Knight NC State
5'11 210 Hits the hole fast and can 'get little' to squeeze through tight spaces Can catch and offer value on 3rd downs. More savvy and tough on 1st and 2nd downs than he is powerful. Very competitive, keeps his legs moving in the 2nd level after contact. Has strength to drag defenders, on many plays it takes multiple guys to bring him down, and he's not the kind of back you want to arm tackle or not wrap up because he can pinball off of poor tackling form, but he's not a pile mover. Overall, Knight appears to be a pretty balanced back but lacks broad jump type explosion. He's got upside to contribute in many roles, is scheme diverse, and could develop into a solid rotational back because he's patient with decent vision. Considering he's projected late, there's some value here. He has decent speed especially in 10 to 15 yard spaces where he can hit his top speed pretty quickly. His speed is very straightline oriented, not as much laterally. Flashes patience at the line and ability to use vision to find space. Interesting prospect. Not quite top tier strength or top tier explosion, but a nice blend of traits, especially given his draft projections. I could see him climbing draft boards a little bit and going higher than projected because he fights so hard for his yardage. Top flashes look like a 5th/6th round player. Had nearly 800 YDs in all 3 years. Build is slightly thinner, so I'm surprised to see him listed at 210. May be a hair under. As far as pro comps, he looks similar to backs like D'Ernest Johnson and/or Dontrell Hilliard in build and athletic profile. Overall lacks top tier explosive traits and doesn't have any one particular attribute that jumps off the screen, but neither did those two comps, so they went undrafted, yet both developed into contributing RBs. So I think he'll go late or undrafted however he runs hard enough and has a nice enough blend of traits to possibly develop into an RB2 and change of pace back for a rotation.
Scout Grade - 7th Round
Scout Comp - D'Ernest Johnson
Eric Gray Tennesse/Oklahoma
Has some explosive traits, fights hard for tough yardage. Runs low with good pad level, makes some great cuts through the middle of the field. He's not a 0 to 100 type explosive, but more cat like quick. With a head of steam, he can build up to decent top speed. He's patient approaching the line and does a decent job finding opportunities. I could see him being a similar style player to JaMychal Hasty of the 49ers. They're same build, similar athletically, and similar style players: 3rd down versatile backs who can keep a defense honest up the gut, but mainly contribute as pass catchers in space. What makes him a little different than most 3rd down backs and scat backs is he really fights hard for yardage. He is tough. That may give him a higher ceiling than pre-draft rankings indicate. I could see him being most valuable in a spread offense on draw plays up the gut. Most likely a rotational back but flashes enough good stuff that he could develop into more. Biggest issue as a prospect is lack of production and not much of a mauler. He's tough enough to break arm tackles but won't move the pile. He had very low usage (all purpose = 650 YDs, 1,000 YDs, than 800 YDs in 3 seasons). That said, the tape, when he was used, is actually pretty good. He can catch and runs nimble with good agility and balance. Size wise, athletically, stylistically Eno Benjamin is similar back too although he was slightly more physical. Benjamin went 7th round and Hasty went undrafted. Gray likely goes around the same range, maybe a team with a need on 3rd down goes as high as 6th round.
Scout Grade - 7th Round
Scout Comp - JaMychal Hasty
Athletic squatty back who fit well in ORE spread offense. Started his career with two 1,000 YD rushing seasons as FR & SO with contributions as a receiver. Only 700 YDs over JR & SR seasons. Talent is evident. Needs to stay healthy. He's a tough runner but not a mauler. Can break tackles but not a pile move. Built more in style like DeAndre Swift from UGA. Best used in space. Pretty good value as far as high risk, high reward. Most project him to go undrafted but he could get a late round pick similar to Jake Funk from last year's class who still got drafted despite injuries.
Scout Grade - 7th Round
Scout Comp - Jake Funk
Good balance, athletic. Used in return game, as a receiver, runner. Not lots of production but contributed in multiple phases. An all purpose player. Interesting value for a 3rd down back. He's very fast. Looks like he could have deceptive 4.4 speed. He's especially fast once you consider his thickness. He makes some beautiful catches too that look more like a WR than RB. On tools alone he's similar to Chris Evans from Michigan last year. Ebnar is a versatile player that can contribute in a lot of ways other than just rushing and will need to prove himself on special teams in order to create other opportunities. He'll likely be used in the return game as well as receiving game. Has some ability to line up in the slot and run routes too. Heavy shoulders. Not the best vision or creativity, but in space he really can lower the boom. Not tons of physical examples on tape, but there are some big time flashes when it comes to mono e mono hits in the 2nd level, he didn't lose those reps. Need more tape of his rushing attempts to really grade him. There's little tape available. Tools alone are intriguing. Ebnar may be one of the faster RBs in this class. Considering Ebnar is 215 pounds, it's worth noticing. There also aren't many RBs capable of hauling in 50 yard passes which he has the athleticism to do. Ebner only had 799 YD rushing at his peak in his final season, yet had 1748 all purpose YDs when you factor receiving & kick/punt returns.
Scout Grade - 7th Round
Scout Comp - Deon Jackson/Kene Nwongu
Ezra Gray Alabama State
Ezra gray is a tiny little stick of dynamite who can break the game open on any play. He is likely the fastest RB in the class by a wide margin. The size comparisons, speed, and shiftiness make him similar to Tarik Cohen. Obviously his main limitation is size, so he will be used predominantly as a 3rd down receiving back and kick returner. He is explosive, not just straightline speed either; he has some disgusting cuts in space and a could surprise some people as a draft day climber. His speed traits are 4th/5th round traits, but teams would be a lot more comfortable with him if he measures180 pounds. 185 would be ideal especially if he's able to maintain his speed at that size. Low 170s might make him undrafted. Either way I think there's enough game breaking ability to warrant a late round pick. All purpose player with absolutely dynamic ability. Kind of a nightmare in space. As the NFL game moves more towards speed, a player like Gray is hard to ignore.
Scout Grade - 7th Round
Scout Comp - Tarik Cohen
James Cook Georgia
Very low mileage over 4 years at UGA. Averaged almost 500 YD per year. A smaller, quicker scat back fit for receiving and 3rd down role. Offers some flexibility to line up in the slot. Good explosion, blocks hard, looks best in space, can catch. Stylistically, he's similar to Demetric Felton & Justin Jackson. People regard him as a speed back, but I think his 'speed' may be slightly overrated/embellished. Cook looks like he'll run a decently fast 40 but I don't see a player who plays as fast as he measures plus limitations on 1st and 2nd down due to size/strength make him single dimensional and could cause him to fall further than pre-draft rankings currently project. Some outlets have him ranked as the 5th RB in this class and some have him graded as high as 3rd round. That's really rich for me. I think he can contribute on 3rd downs but I don't see gamebreaking athleticism for the pro level nor do I see versatility/strength enough to warrant a high pick. I also worry about how his game will translate because he breaks most plays outside. His compass is too east/west and not enough north. That's usually not a good sign and projecting pro...as a runner at least. Flashes some vision in the open field and not a bad player, but it'd be hard to justify picking him earlier than day 3. I see him as a 7th round or even undrafted type prospect. He looks like a rotational spark but I worry his game is more fit for college than pro. I'll dive deeper into his games to see if I'm missing something because currently his "grade/rankings" from other sources is not matching what my eyes are seeing. Seems like one of the more overrated players at the position. Teams may be getting too enticed by track speed. I expect Cook to have a role, so I don't think he'll bust, but it'll be as a rotational back on 3rd downs.
Scout Grade - 7th Round
Scout Comp - Justin Jackson
Kennedy Brooks Oklahoma
Highly productive in a wide open conference not known for defense. Still, had 1,000 yards as a FR, SO, & JR. Not much receiving production at slightly under 1 catch per game. Listed at 215 but looks closer to 205. You'd like to see more ambition and physicality as a pass blocker. He's usually in position but doesn't really aggressively put his hat on rushers. Not top tier burst, but has tons of balance. Very smooth runner. Not powerful but can fall forward through contact. Physically, he reminds me of Pierre Thomas. Not super fast or explosive, but patient, smart, tough with outstanding balance that allows him to break tackles that you wouldn't expect him to be able to make. Upside is limited by lack of athletic traits but has just enough juice to contribute as an RB2. Has to improve as a receiver and blocker.
Scout Grade - UDFA
Scout Comp - Pierre Thomas (as a runner, not as a receiver or blocker)
Interesting resume. Started his career hot with 2,000 yards and 21 TDs as a FR & SO. Dipped as JR to 744 YDs + 7 TDs & as a SR to 439 YDs + 5 TDs. Never caught a TD, only 37 catches. He runs tough and is physical but I don't know if he's explosive enough. He's tough enough though. Could be a good candidate to convert to special teams.
Scout Grade - UDFA
Brittain Brown UCLA
5 year player who had committee type production. About 400 yards per year. North south runner. All of his best runs are right up the gut where he hits the hole pretty hard and flashes good vision. Falls forward through contact. 1st cut is quick, can change direction easily. Could be a nice change of pace back to fill in for a rotation on 1st and 2nd downs. Style is similar to Chris Evans from Michigan last year.
Scout Grade - UDFA
Jerrion Ealy Ole Miss
Relatively productive, consistent in 3 years at Ole Miss. Had nearly 800 YDs each year. As a pro I could see him fitting into a rotational role in a spread offense. He's a smaller back but still runs hard enough to present some early down value out the spread. On 3rd downs he needs work. Had some bad moments in pass pro that are concerning plus as a runner it looks like he's almost running at 80% speed. I'd like him to be more emphatic and aggressive, hit the hole harder. People who like him will call it patience, but I think it's a potential liability unless he shows range enough to balance it with hard runs up the gut. Had some receiving production to not be a liability as a receiver. Runs hard, fights for yardage. Not big or fast or imposing in any particular way. There's not much strength or power so he'll likely be a rotational back that provides versatility and change of pace. He needs to run with better pad level. Athletically he's average. I could see him going undrafted because at his size, you'd hope for explosion. It's not a lack of explosive traits to the point where you think he can't contribute, but it is a lack in the way that I question his upside. Seems more RB3 than RB1 or 2. Will need to work on pass catching because that will be the expectation as a pro, simply because of his size/build. Runs north south. Doesn't have bad habits (like breaking runs outside) so I like the mindset and approach to his game. That said, there are not many guys at 185 who thrive as up the gut runners at the pro level. The one that comes to mind, Warrick Dunn, was an exceptional athlete who could hit the hole hard, which Ealy isn't and doesn't. Average to above average agility, combined with solid vision and toughness. I could see him being similar to a player like Chase Edmonds, however he might be a slight tick below that level of athleticism and toughness. Most outlets project him as a mid round prospect but I don't see it. Kind of below average overall. His best attributes is how he navigates traffic. He's surprisingly nimble and tough in traffic. Pinballs off of defenders more often than I expected. Runs bigger than listed size but not as explosive. Ealy is caught in a pickle. He's style of an early down back but in a 3rd down back build. Those guys rarely make it. I could see a team like the Packers seeing value in his game.
Scout Grade - UDFA
Scout Comp - JJ Taylor
Ricky Person Jr
Top heavy runner that runs high but physical. Really needs to lower pad level to be more effective. Not a very efficient or highly productive runner. Averaged about 500 yards per year but contributed on 3rd downs with average of 24 catches in last 2 years. Need more game tape because only highlights are available, but from what I can tell he looks like a big back with decent straight-line speed traits but not enough creativity to warrant a draft selection. Than again, players in past classes have had a similar assessment and ended up becoming an effective pro in the right system. Person is a similar prospect, but lacks Mitchel's speed. Person's speed isn't bad though. The one thing that helps his chances is when it comes to needing 1 yard, he displays the leg drive to move bodies for a yard or two. There's some potential to develop beyond pre-draft projections which show a universally undrafted player. I don't think he projects to be the most efficient player though given his lower YPC as a collegiate. System and surrounding cast matter a lot in those regards though.
Scout Grade - UDFA
Scout Comp - Stevie Scott/Ty'Son Williams
5 year player with nearly 1,000 yards combined each year. Caught lots of passes consistently. Quick, developmental 3rd down back. Diminutive, thin frame. Decent long speed, above average cuts.
Scout Grade - UDFA
Backed up Kevin Harris. Not much tape available, but one game vs a stout SEC team where he didn't have much breathing room so it was hard game to assess. He seemed tough, above average athlete.
Scout Grade - UDFA
Not particularly explosive but athletic enough. Kind of a boring runner. Good route runner and could develop into a 3rd down back but nothing really jumps off the screen other than route running.
Scout Grade - UDFA
Tyler Goodson Iowa
Approaches the LOS with a good head of steam. Not a contact player, built more for space. There are some plays when head to head vs 2nd level defenders where he really gets knocked back. So he lacks strength for 1st and 2nd down duties. He has nimble feet and is pretty quick, but he'll need to prove himself on 3rd downs. Overall, there are limitations but he could carve out a 3rd down role. Had 31 catches as a Jr. Likely his ceiling is a rotational player. Has long speed. Will likely measure well. Best bet might be as a special teamer. Scout Grade - UDFA
Scout Comp - Jaret Patterson
Cam'Ron Harris Miami
Lacks creativity that I tend to look for from RB prospects. I don't see the power or strength to really be a great 1st and 2nd down player. He flashes some agility and effort in fighting through contact but his natural skill set isn't a power runner or tackle breaker. Too many plays where you'd want to see him break the tackle, yet he ends up on the ground. He's best in space and making people miss on decisive cuts. He'll have to really work on pass catching and pass blocking because his best opportunity will be trying to compete as a 3rd down back. Not necessarily someone I would target. Likely UDFA. Scout Grade - UDFA
Scout Comp - Gary Brightwell (Harris is similar in build and agility, but Brightwell was a better prospect due to more burst).
OK State 5'9 205
Fast enough, not much production. Homerun or bust style player.
Scout Grade - UDFA
I would've thought he was 230. Running style and build makes him look bigger. Downhill player. Not much production. One 700 yd season at Baylor but transferred. He flashed some good moments in space and physicality. Lack of production requires looking into. Could hit the hole harder. Sort of a one speed player that doesn't get 0 to 100 quick enough to make up for average athletic traits. At 1st glance, you'd think he's candidate to move to fullback but then there are long runs where his long speed looks ok. Flashes, but where's production? Physicality might make him candidate for special teams conversion.
Scout Grade - UDFA
DIDN'T DECLARE EARLY (Grades subject to change between now and next year's draft)
*Zach Charbonnet UCLA/Michigan
Early entrant JR with low miles (due to transfer). As a true FR had 700 YDs and 11 TDs for Michigan but transferred to UCLA. As a JR had 202 carries for 1,137 YDs & 13 TDs. Charbonnet is very strong with outstanding size adjusted straight-line acceleration & speed. Very physical, imposing north south runner. Gets yards after contract. Drags piles of people forward for yards. Hits the hole hard. Does not go down from arm tackles and maintains balance after being hit. There are so many defenders on the ground after trying to arm tackle him. Long speed is actually good. He's fast. He's not particularly agile though and is not the type of back to shake loose. As a receiver, had 24 catches for 197 YDs, but not overly natural (sort of Leonard Fournette style player). His upfield acceleration may be close to all timers George Rogers or Otis Anderson because he gets north so fast. I mean he can really explode quickly upfield for a thick power runner. It's a dangerous skill set that could translate to the pro game well. My biggest issue with his tape is there were multiple plays, sometimes 2 or 3 in the same game, where he wouldn't see cutback lanes and open space. It's almost like he'd seek contact instead of running towards a potential hole. So his vision needs work. It might be coachable because for the most part he navigated the middle of the field well. There are some potential big runs he missed though by lacking elite level vision to find cutback lanes. He could also improve his agility and leverage. This kind of player used to be drafted top 10. The game has changed so he might fall to the 2nd round. Truthfully, his brutish skill set is so rare, that I wouldn't have a problem with a team drafting him in the late 1st round. His strength and balance after contact is unique. He's the type of runner you could build an offense around with Derrick Henry or Leonard Fournette type impact and upside. If he works on his receiving ability and develops 3rd down traits, he'll be an absolute nightmare. He is the last guy in this class that you'd want to tackle head on. Shockingly, he decided to return to UCLA for another year. For a power runner who may have been the 1st RB taken in the 2021 class, it's almost unthinkable why he'd return and
Scout Grade - 1st/2nd Round
Scout Comp - Corey Dillon
*Chris Rodriguez Jr. Kentucky
Tough player who runs with good balance. Very productive in SEC for a power run team in KY. 1300 yards and 10 TDs as a SR. Not explosive, but nimble. When he gets full head of steam, he flashes enough speed to play pro. My favorite plays are the power sweeps and tosses to the outside. There's a throwback feel to his game. He has some nasty highlights like stiff arms and broken tackles. There's enough tough running to warrant a selection even though he's not explosive per se. He's universally regarded as an undrafted prospect, but I find that hard to believe. He's so tough and runs so hard that somebody should take a chance on him late. It's possible he lacks the athletic traits to make it pro, but it's also possible he develops into an RB1. James Robinson had a similar build and style of play, went undrafted, but had large impact. Rodriguez has a similar ceiling. What helps is he hits the hole hard. He's smart, reliable, & tough. He always picks up more yardage that you expect. He has a knack for powering through contact and his ability to fall forward and gain tough yards. Only had 14 catches in 4 years, yet the few catches I saw, he appeared natural. It's possible he has more receiving ability than his stats and collegiate use would indicate. He's not fast but I like how he converts his speed to power. A lot of value here considering his undrafted projections. If you asked me, "who runs the hardest in this class?" It might be Chris Rodriguez Jr. On pure effort alone, he's someone you take a chance on because he fights so hard. Underrated. Because he runs so hard, he'll need to work on ball security because he can put the ball on the turf while fighting for tough yards. He'll be best utilized in an offense that can scheme momentum in to his runs and allow him to be decisive. I think he'd be a great fit for Baltimore or Seattle. As far as comps, he's built like and is athletically similar to Alfred Morris. That's his upside. Downside might be a player like Benny Snell.
Scout Grade - 4th-7th Round
Scout Comp - Alfred Morris/Benny Snell
Ainias Smith Texas A&M
Hybrid player who should be listed under WR not RB. He was Isaiah Spiller's running mate. He runs routes with the grace of a WR. A mismatch position-less type guy. He's going to run a fast 40. Long speed looks natural. There were a lot of plays where he looked wide open, but his QB didn't look his way. Probably could have had a ton more production if the offense was built more around him. I mean there are tons of plays where he looks open, that's what I notice. Hybrid players like this tend to fall in the draft. Demtric Felton and Kenneth Gainwell for example last year were similar prospects. Smith is closer to Gainwell athletically. Frankly, Smith is probably faster. He is competitive. Despite his size, he fights hard as a blocker and flashes some physicality. As a WR, one improvement he could make is with his eyes. On plays that aren't designed for him as primary, he still needs to keep his eyes on the ball. There were a few plays where the QB was in early pressure and looked Smith's way but Smith was still focused on his route and not aware that he could be the target on a broken play. That's minor though and coachable. Even though he's listed in the RBs, he is more of a WR. Think Tavaris Cadet or JD McKissic when they came out of App State and Ark State. Both had experience in multiple roles, but projected better as slot WR/3rd down back.
Scout Grade - 7th Round/UDFA
Scout Grade - Demetric Felton
JR. 2,000+ yards and 26 TDs over SO and JR yrs. No game tape available. Highlights only. Broke some long runs. Long strider, runs high. Doesn't appear very bursty or agile but hits top speed quickly. Mostly straight line speed. Could be a decent candidate to convert to return game.
Christian Beal Smith