Running Backs

 

The 2020 draft offered a ton of RB talent. While one didn't come off the board until the 32nd selection (Clyde Edwards-Helaire-Chiefs), there was a bevy of talent to follow. Sixteen were drafted in total, nine of which came off the board within the first rounds.

 

Even with the aforementioned in mind, the 2021 class has some real quality at the position as well. One (Harris) if not two (+Etienne) should get selected on Day 1. Day 2 (Rounds 2 &  3) probably won't have another seven go, falling short of the 2020 total. Each of the UNC backs could/should go, while there are a few other guys who may surprise. Day 3 should bring about a ton of movement, and when all the dust settles, there's no way I see less than fourteen RBs getting selected. 

1) Najee Harris | 6'1 | 230 | RB | Alabama -

Harris is a power back who cranks out tough yards, doesn't go down easily. In addition to cranking out 1,200+ yards on the ground for 13 TDs in 2019, he also proved to be an effective receiver out of the backfield, catching 27 balls for 304 yards worth 7 TDs. While he doesn't have/play with track speed or elite wiggle, there's enough of each to advance the ball well beyond the LOS. He's a bruiser who can do it all. He reminds me a lot of Zeke Elliott, a player who constantly wants and deserves the rock.

 

9/26 - Missouri - Harris had a very strong outing. He had 17 carries for 98 yards, 3 TDs. While he pounded the rock well and was a load to take down, he showed speed to get yards after contact where and when there was room. He caught 2 passes, looked comfortable doing as much. As a whole, he looked like a complete RB today.

10/3 - Texas A&M - Harris is an easy back to love. While he had just 43 yards on 12 carries, you have to love how well he runs behind his pads and works with what's given to him. He had 2 catches for 26 yards, again showing how versatile he is. 

10/10 - Ole Miss - Harris made the case for him being named the  nation's best RB. 'Bama rode his back to a victory. He had 23 carries for 206 yards, 5 TDs. He also caught 3 balls for 42 yards. There was little not love about his hard running style and speed.

10/17 - Georgia - Yes, the stat line does pop...31/152, 1 TD. But when you watch this kid play, it's clear that he has excellent vision and has no wasted movement advancing the ball with speed and power.

10/24 - Tennessee - Another franchise back night for Harris. Even when the blocking wasn't there, he found ways to get extra yards. While he ran hard, he showed some wiggle. He went 20/96 with 3 TDs. He also looked very good as a receiver out of the backfield, going 6/61 in that regard.

10/31 - Miss. State - Wash, rinse, repeat.. 21 carries for 119 yards, 6 receptions for 36 yards. Franchise RB...

11/21 - Kentucky - Harris had a solid game. While he didn't flash great speed, he always kept his legs moving and refused to go down easy. Even when plays were dead, he did his best to salvage what he could and get yards. He had 13 carries for 83 yards, 2 TDs. He also had 2 receptions for 27 yards. 

11/28 - Auburn - Workhorse type of running, albeit for just 11 carries. He went for 96 yards, showed good vision and enough moves to keep the defense honest. 

2) Travis Etienne | 5'10 | 210 | RB | Clemson -

After looking like the real thing in 2017 with 766 rushing yards, Etienne followed up on that by surpassing the 1,600 yard mark in back to back seasons thereafter. Blessed with great vision, Etienne also plays with amazing speed and shiftiness. While elusive, he has good size and can take a lick. He's also an accomplished receiver, having caught 37 passes in 2019 for 432 yards, good for 4 TDs. He's a complete, franchise back who could've been the first RB off the board had he declared for the 2020 draft. He's gotten stronger over the years, is now a back who can break tackles with some power to his game. Many expect him to be RB1 this year. Ball security is an issue at times, however. 

 

9/12 - Wake Forest - Etienne looked good overall, had 17 carries for 102 yards. He also caught 3 balls for 47 yards. While he wasn't sharp with his cuts, he glided and flowed with good speed, wasn't easily taken down on contact. Rodgers had a very good game, despite one dropped pass in the end zone when trying to keep his feet in bounds. He caught 5 balls for 90 yards, running good routes and displaying real good speed.

10/3 - Virginia - Etienne was excellent. He put his foot in the ground and got up to a very good top speed in a hurry. While not huge, he had some angry runs where he dismissed would-be tacklers. As a receiver, he was just as deadly, catching the ball well and getting yards in chunks.

10/31 - Boston College - Etienne looked fantastic today. He ran well as per usual, 20 carries for 84 yards against a stout run defense. That said, he excelled as a receiver out of the backfield, catching 7 balls for 140 yards. He looked like an all-around franchise back.

11/7 - Notre Dame - Etienne has to get his ball security issues in check, but this kid showed how dynamic and versatile he is. He only rushed for 28 yards on 18 tries, but credit ND for that. On a few of those runs, he beats one more guy and he would've amassed 100+ yards. As a receiver, he went 8 for 57. 

11/28 - Pittsburgh - Etienne made his case for being RB1 in the upcoming draft. He displayed good vision and nice chops working through tackles. He went 11/58 with 2 TDs, showed good speed. 

3) Javonte Williams | 5'10 | 220 | RB | North Carolina

Williams sports a thick build, does an exceptional job of breaking tackles and getting additional yards. He has enough long speed to outpace defenders, and enough agility to make some guys miss outright. While he's a bruiser, he catches the ball quite well. He, like his teammate Carter, is a capable back who can handle the rock 20+ times a game. 

4) Michael Carter | 5'8 | 202 | RB | North Carolina

Carter may come in  under the 200lb. mark, but he seems heavier based on how he carries the weight, coupled with his ability to take a hit and keep going. He's blessed with a good speed an terrific feet, can make guys miss in a phone booth. While not big, he can be the premier runner in any offense, capable of a being a 20+ touch guy. He can run and catch very well. 

 

9/12 - Syracuse - Carter had an excellent game. He amassed 78 yards on just 7 carries, with a long run of 45 yards. He was also quite productive as a receiver, catching 6 balls for 60 yards. He also was very adept and effective as a return man. In addition to flashing long speed, he displayed good vision, quick feet and the juking ability to make guys miss. 

10/10 - Virginia Tech - Carter had an amazing game. He had 17 carries for 214 yards, 2 TDs. He displayed great vision, quick feet and long speed. He ran tough, wasn't easy to take down.

11/27 - Notre Dame - Carter had a great game. Yes, he only amassed 57 yards. But, he did so on just 8 carries, a 7.1 YPC average. He showed off excellent jump-cut running, often gaining yards where and when there was little to be had. 

5) Javian Hawkins | 5'9 | 196 | RB | Louisville

This obvious knock on Hawkins is his lack of size. That out of the way, Hawkins has tremendous speed and foot quickness to match. If and when he's given any room, look out. He's listed at 196lbs., but often looks lighter. While he's shown he can handle a substantial workload, added weight may be required. 

 

9/12 - Western Kentucky - Hawkins had a good game. He went 19/71, 1 TD. While his long run of the day was just 19 yards, he showed off some very good speed and quick feet to match. 

9/19 - Miami - Wow. Hawkins went nuts this game, showing some of the best play speed of anyone in the nations. He had 27 carries for 164 yards. He was very tough to contain, was able to get yardage all over the place. 

10/17 - Notre Dame - Hawkins only amassed 51 yards on 15 carries, as ND's defense looked very good and was in fact keying on him. However, he showed off amazing quickness and just how dangerous he is when not bottled up. He chipped in with 5 receptions for 46 yards, showing that he can be effective as a receiver as well. 

10/24 - Florida State - Another impressive outing for Hawkins, as he totaled 174 yards on just 16 carries, 3 TDs. He had a long run of 70 yards that really showcased just how fast this kid is. That speed coupled with sweet feet was impressive.  

10/31 - VA Tech - Hawkins was scary good in this one. As a runner, he went 17/129 with 1 TD. In the receiving game, he caught 5 balls for 42 yards, 1 TD. This kid looked like the complete package, capable of shredding a defense when given even just the smallest amount of room to work.

6) Rhamondre Stevenson | 5'11 | 227 | RB | Oklahoma

Kennedy Brooks was expected to be the main man in 2020, but he opted out. So, Stevenson took over the reigns and never looked back. Stevenson was a beast in 2019, amassing 515 yards on just 64 carries, an 8.7 yard average. He's kept on the trend of getting yards in chunks, averaged 11.7 per carry in 2020. Despite being built like a Mack truck, he runs with very good speed considering, is able to pull off some huge runs. He doesn't have elite wiggle, does need green to operate, but has a Derrick Henry type of play that is impossible to ignore. Oh yeah, he catches the ball pretty well too. 

11/21 - Oklahoma State - Stevenson had a very impressive game. He blew up the stat sheet, carrying the ball 26 times for 141 yards. He also caught 3 balls for 54 yards. He ran with an impressive blend of speed and power, was too tough for the defense to contain.

12/19 - Iowa State - Stevenson had another good game. He had 18 carries for 97 yards, also had 4 receptions for 36 yards. He ran with strength and resolute speed. 

7) Kenneth Gainwell | 5'11 | 195 | RB | Memphis - (Opting Out)

The sole knock on Gainwell might be that he lacks size. Aside from that, he has great vision, quick feet when pressing the LOS and wastes no time hitting the crease. Regardless of his true 40-time, he plays like a 4.3/4.4 guy who dusts coverage on consistent basis. While excellent as a runner, he's also a legitimate receiving threat out of the backfield. If he tests as well as many expect him too, he should hear his name called on Day 2. 

8) Chuba Hubbard | 6'0 | 207 | RB | OK State -

Hubbard rushed for 740 yards in 2018, then almost tripled that number in 2019 when he amassed 2,094 yards. On paper, he's everything you want from a RB. He has good size and fluid feet, with his greatest trait being his track speed. He needs little room to operate, possesses the ability to put his foot in the ground, go and outrun almost any defense out there. He also pitches in nicely as a receiver. As good as 2018-19 were, his play had fallen off this year. While injuries have been a factor, he just didn't look as explosive this season. While I still think he could be a team's main bell cow, I couldn't use too early of a pick on him given his recent play.  

 

9/19 - Tulsa - Hubbard had an okay game, but certainly didn't perform as well as expected. His stat line was solid, carrying the ball 27 times for 93 yards. He didn't get much from his O-Line on several carries. That said, he was a straight line runner who didn't show elite wiggle. Unless he was above to get a head of steam, he was neutralized.

10/31 - Texas - Hubbard didn't flash great wiggle, but he proved to be a strong one-cut runner with very good play speed. He ran the ball 25 times for 72 yards, also caught 4 passes for 34 yards. He looked like an all-around back who can do a bit of everything pretty well.

11/21 - Oklahoma - Hubbard went into this game nursing an injury and it showed. While he didn't get great blocking up front nor a passing attack to mix things up, he still had 44 yards on 8 carries. He re-injured himself and saw limited snaps. 

9) Larry Rountree | 5'11 | 215 | RB | Missouri

Maybe the best compliment one could give Rountree is that he's well-rounded RB who gives his all each and every game. He has good vision and runs hard, refuses to go down easily. He's one guy who could get somewhat lost in the draft process and fall to Day 3, ending up a steal for some fortunate team. 

 

9/26 - Alabama - Rountree had a very good game. 14 carries for 67 yards may not jump out at anyone, but he was able to get yards after contact on a routine basis. He showed no wasted movements and ran with a hammerhead mentality. He churned his legs well and showed a very solid blend of speed and power.

10/3 - Tennessee - Rountree is quickly becoming one of me favorite backs to watch. He read blocks well, put his foot in the ground and charged ahead. He didn't go down easily, ran with great resilience, power and balance. He went 18/84 with 1 TD. Despite meh blocking, he found a way to get yards.

10/10 - LSU - Rountree continues to impress, showing his ability to be his own blocker with powerful runs. He toted the rock 18 times for 119 yards, and despite his fumble he looked very solid. 

10/24 - Kentucky - Another solid, workhorse day for this reliable RB. He touted the rock 37 times, amassing 126 yards and 2 TDs. he pressed the LOS well and showed good vision and toughness.

10/31 - Florida - Rountree got little blocking help, amassed just 36 yards on 1 4 carries. He did show his receiving abilities, caught 6 balls for 26 yards. He was solid overall based on what he was given to work with.

10) Trey Sermon | 6'0 | 215 | RB | Ohio State

10/24 - Nebraska - Sermon went 11/48, looked decent doing so. He showed no wasted movements, made one step cuts then went upfield well. He appeared quicker than Teague at times. 

10/31 - Penn State - 13 carries for 56 yards, benefited from some good blocking up front. While he didn't look bad, he looked very average.

11/21 - Indiana - Had 9 carries for 60 yards. While he showed more speed than Teague, he looked one-dimensional. 

12/19 - Northwestern - Sermon looked like his old self in this game, showing very good burst through the LOS, balance after contact and a good leg churn. He had 29 carries for 331 yards, 2 TDs. He looked like a franchise bell cow. 

1/1 - Clemson - Sermon turned in another fantastic performance. He displayed very good leg drive through contact, coupled with enough shiftiness and long speed to get yards in chunks. He had 31 carries for 193 yards, and was the main reason why the pass game was opened up as well as it was. 

11) Khalil Herbert | 5'9 | 204 | RB | Virginia Tech

Herbert has nice size and displays a bit of everything in his runs. While he doesn't have one thing that stands out in particular, he generally shows good vision with the combination of enough speed and power to produce good yardage. 

12/5 - Clemson - Herbert had a real nice outing. He had 21 carries for 96 yards, 1 TD. He showed off nifty footwork and great vision at the LOS, was able to find creases to work through. He demonstrated a good balance of speed and power, a reliable runner who can carry the load. He's another guy who could slide in the draft due to team's having other needs, but could be a Day 3 gem. He's more than proven that he can be trusted to carry the rock 15+ times and move the chains. 

12)  Kylin Hill | 5'10 | 215 | RB | Mississippi State -

Hill is an accomplished RB who can do it all. He has good size, speed and foot quickness. He uses his feet well  behind the LOS to pick through openings, then offers up speed and power when taking on tacklers. He runs behind his pads well and sets up defenders for the all-embarrassing hurdle, a tactic he loves using. He's an alpha male, a guy quick to exude confidence and let his opponents know when they've been gashed. He's shown some ability to be used as a receiver out of the backfield as well. While he does everything more than adequately, he's not dynamic in any one area. He also has some attitude issues, something that may hurt him in the interview process.

 

9/26 - LSU - Hill had 34 yards on just 7 carries, as LSU gave way to the pass. Hill shined there, catching 8 balls for 158 yards. He proved to be an athletic, strong back that has the speed to outpace defenders. While he didn't show elite wiggle, he was a straight-line runner who moved the ball.

13) Elijah Mitchell | 5'10 | 215 | RB | Louisiana

9/12 - Iowa State - Mitchell had a good game, carrying the ball just 8 times but amassing 46 yards. What impressed me the most was his balance after contact, it taking a lot for defenders to knock him off his feet. He struck me as a strong kid that welcomes contact.

14) Jaret Patterson | 5'9 | 195 | RB | Buffalo

11/4 - Northern Illinois - While the competition was rather meh, Patterson put on a show of nifty footwork and open field acceleration. He ran with very good vision and shift, was a tough player to get a bead on. He had 20 carries for 137 yards, showed his ability to bounce off tackles despite his lack of size.

15) Jermar Jefferson | 5'19 | 217 | RB | Oregon State -

16) Rakeem Boyd | 6'0 | 206 | RB | Arkansas -

9/26 - Georgia - Boyd had zero blocking in front of him, so there really wasn't much to observe. He had 11 carries for just 21 yards.

10/17 - Ole Miss - Boyd had to share carries, so he toted the rock 14 times, only getting 39 yards. Again, he had little help from his O-line, but did show his ability to press the LOS and jump cut.

17) Kennedy Brooks | 5'10 | 216 | RB | Oklahoma - (Opting Out)

Brooks has good size and produces well once out in the open. He exhibits patience behind the LOS, does a good job of waiting for holes to open up, reads his lanes appropriately. He isn't sudden and doesn't flash foot quickness, but runs with a flow that can often belie his long speed. While not a burner, there's enough there to keep defenses honest. He needs to show more as a receiver out of the backfield.

18) Ronnie Rivers | 5'9 | 192 | RB | Fresno State

19) Spencer Brown | 5'11 | 220 | RB | UAB

9/12 - Miami - Brown was by far the best looking prospect UAB had on the night. He had 16  carries for 74 yards. He showed good vision at the LOS, nice jump-cuts and the speed to collect yards once in the open. He looked like a draft-worthy RB.

12/19 - Marshall - Brown had a very nice game. He was their bell cow today, carrying the rock 30 times for 149 yards. He showed good vision when pressing the LOS, used good one-cut running. He flashed quickness through the hole and adequate speed.

20) Gerrid Doaks | 6'1 | 230 | RB | Cincinnati

11/21 - UCF - You have to appreciate Doaks's game play. While he's a a one-cut runner with little wiggle, he runs hard and shows decent vision at the LOS. He had 28 carries for 97 yards, was dependable down the stretch.

21) CJ Marable | 5'10 | 200 | RB | Coastal Carolina

12/5 - BYU - Marable had a very good game, and if anything showed just how relied upon he can be. Despite not being a big back, he touted the rock 23 times, amassed 123 yards and 2 TDs doing so. He ran the ball up the middle with some power, also showed good speed when taking the pitch on perimeter runs. 

22) Stevie Scott | 6'1 | 230 | RB | Indiana

10/24 - Penn State - Scott had 20 carries for just 57 yards, did score twice. He also caught 3 balls for 11 yards. He got very little help from his O-line, was reduced to straight, downhill runs with limited opportunities to get chunk yards. He ran hard with power, couldn't see much else but this one dimension.

11/21 - Ohio State - Scott didn't show much speed or wiggle, was bottled up often. He had 7 carries for 6 yards. He did catch 2 balls for 23 yards.

23) Pooka Williams Jr. | 5'10 | 170 | RB | Kansas

9/12 - Coastal Carolina - Williams showed off plus level quickness was able to get 67 yards on 12 carries despite little blocking. He's small, but showed niche ability. His lack of power is evident, just doesn't carry the frame to take a pounding.

999) Zamir White | 5'11 | 215 | RB | Georgia -

9/26 - Arkansas - White had just 13 carries, but amassed 71 yards doing so. He didn't get great blocking, but he showed off a good first step out the gate, coupled with a blend of speed and power to create space for himself.

10/3 - Auburn - White had 19 carries for 88 yards, good for 2 TDs. He ran behind excellent blocking, showed no wasted movements and kept his legs churning throughout. Not one trait stood out, but he was steady.

10/10 - Tennessee - White amassed just 50 yards on 22 carries. Georgia failed to provide a push up front on many of those carries, nit giving White much room to work. However, White didn't display the type of quickness that often helps RBs out in those situations. He ran tough, but not much skip in his step.

10/17 - Alabama - White went 10/57 with 1 TD. He had a number of solid runs, but rarely looked special.

11/21 - Miss. State - White had 11 carries for a whopping 21 yards. Granted, he didn't get great blocking up front, nor did any other RB today. However, it's apparent that he's a very limited runner if he doesn't have a decent amount of green to work with. 

White is a very balanced runner who offers up nice size and speed to match. He's very disciplined, stays true to the play and follows his blockers. He does a good job running between the OT's and grinding out tough yards, battles tacklers well. He's at his best however when he can take the ball wide and operate around the edges with a full head of steam. 

999) Keaontay Ingram | 5'11 | 215 | RB | Texas -

9/12 - UTEP - Ingram had just 9 carries, but he amassed 44 yards on did so in tough fashion. He wasn't sexy, but pounded the rock well and kept his legs churning. 

9/26 - Texas Tech - Ingram had limited opportunities for carries, as the Longhorns used a three RB approach. In the carries he had, he ran with assertive power and wasn't easy to take down. He was 12/89, averaging over 7 yards per touch. He was also adept receiving the ball, going 3/20.

10/3- TCU - Ingram looked very average today, carrying the ball 11 times for 40 yards. The blocking wasn't there, and TCU schemed well. That said, he did turn the ball over on a fumble.

10/24 - Baylor - Ingram continued to look like a sturdy yet rotational back today. He didn't show off any one trait that made him look like anything otherwise. He had 16 touches for 57 yards.

10/31 - OK State - Ingram is quickly descending down the draft ladder, losing reps to the talented Freshman Robinson. He had just 2 touches for 5 yards.

Ingram has good size and speed, and offers up a little bit of everything as a prospect. He's proven to be very effective as a receiver on screens and delayed releases into the 2nd level. As a runner, he doesn't wow in any one regard. He shows decent cutting ability coupled with the wheels to bust out some good runs when given space. He has the requisite power to work through tacklers and get extra feet if not yards. 

999) Mohamed Ibrahim | 5'9 | 210 | RB | Minnesota - 

10/24 - Michigan - Ibrahim had a solid game. He toted the rock 24 times for 140 yards, 2 TDs. He also caught 4 balls for 17 yards. While there wasn't one singular trait that stood out athletically, I was impressed by his toughness. Even when keyed on, he often found ways to produce against a vaunted front seven.

10/30 - Maryland - Minnesota opted to run the ball all night, totaling 50 carries on the night. Ibrahim had 41 of those, amassing 207 yards and 4 TDs doing so. While he didn't look overly fast or quick, he was able to grind out tough yards and show some long speed when breaking free. His durability stood out. 

11/13 - Iowa - Fleck opted for the ground game again, maybe to his demise. Ibrahim had to carry the ball 33 times, gained 144 yards doing so. None of his runs were overly impressive yardage-wise, but he kept grinding throughout this contest. 

11/20 - Purdue - Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Ibrahim had 25 carries for 102 yards. He pressed the LOS well and displayed good patience and vision. While sturdy and dependable, he didn't flash an extra gear to look like more than a reliable grinder, someone who'd be a long-game threat.

999) CJ Verdell | 5'9 | 210 | RB | Oregon -

11/7 - Stanford - Verdell picked up from where he left off last year. He had 20 carries for 105 yards, also caught 2 balls for 30. He exhibited very good stop/start speed, showing a nice top speed once out into the open field. He ran with a good one-cut approach, wasted no time getting up to and through the LOS.

11/14 - Washington State - Verdell had a very impressive, complete game. He had 18 carries for 188 yards, good for 1 TD. He also showed his worth as a receiver, catching 5 balls for 36 yards. He showed plus speed and foot quickness, was able to get yards in chunks. he showed off good vision and was tough to defend when given room. While he was credited with a fumble, blame his QB for not pulling the ball out cleanly on the read-option.

Verdell is a home run waiting to happen. From the moment the ball is snapped, he's moving. While he runs with solid cutting ability, he doesn't require a ton of it. He's very much a north-south runner, a player who hits the seam and gets to full speed in a hurry. He isn't a big kid and doesn't run with power, but his sheer speed creates enough force on impact to where he can bounce off defenders. He's also a dangerous receiver on swing passes to the outside.

999) Max Borghi | 5'11 | 195 | RB | Washington State -

Comparisons to the great Christian McCaffrey are apt given Borghi's stature and style of play. While he lacks size, this kid is tough as nails and certainly isn't afraid of contact nor competition. From the snap, he shows plus speed and quickness. He's a fluid runner who accelerates up to a very fast top speed within the blink of an eye. He exhibits quick feet and vision at the LOS, able to find the seam and hit it with anticipation and awareness. He's an excellent receiver, able to find niches in the defense and make guys miss in the open field. Adding size is necessary and should only make him a harder target to take down.

999) Master Teague III | 5'11 | 220 | RB | Ohio State -

10/24 - Nebraska - Teague had a decent game, ran the ball 12 times for 41 yards, scored twice. While he didn't always get great blocking up front, he didn't show much wiggle. He was more of a a powerful north/south runner. 

10/31 - Penn State - Teague followed his blockers and was able to get some chunk yards, but there was nothing dynamic about his runs. He had 23 carries for 110 yards, but most any legit RB would've amassed that if not more given the run lanes he had. 

11/21 - Indiana - Despite touting the ball for 41 yards on his long run of the day, Teague didn't flash much speed. He did have 26 carries for 169 yards, 2 TDs. However, he did so in workhorse fashion, never struck me s a dynamic runner.

999) Lyn-J Dixon | 5'9 | 190 | RB | Clemson

10/3 - Virginia - Had just 11 yards on 5 carries, looked a lot better as a return man. That said, he didn't get great blocking.

999) Jatarvious Whitlow | 5'11 | 210 | RB | Western Illinois -

Whitlow is an accomplished runner who surpassed 750 yards rushing in each of his past two seasons. His greatest asset is being able to press the LOS, then using quick feet to get up and through the hole. He has good size and the speed to compromise defenses on the perimeter.