This upcoming running back class is stacked. Assuming most of these prospects declare for the draft, it could be one of the best classes we’ve seen in a while. The first thing that pops out at me is the high volume of explosive runners and receiving threats.
Many can be 3-down backs in the league, others are so explosive and versatile that they don’t need to be. Some are proven workhorses that have seen multiple 1,000-yard seasons, others are fresh faces that have been buried in the depth charts for the majority of their careers- and will likely make their case this next season. Regardless, it’s a busy class with a ton of talent.
Best Player: Brian Robinson Jr., Alabama
Robinson is a big back that resembles a lot of what Le’Veon Bell was during his career in Pittsburgh. The Alabama tailback is extremely patient and possesses elite vision. He’s a downhill, high-motor runner that challenges defenders with his physicality. He’s a bruiser. He doesn’t display much twitch or explosion, but it doesn’t really matter due to his success in the run game when using his eyes and his strength.
Most Overrated: Breece Hall, Iowa State
It was hard for me to choose a back that was ‘overrated’ when there are so many unique talents in this class. For me though, Breece Hall fits that bill. Nothing really stands out to me about his game. He’s a workhorse running back that is used primarily in a run-heavy offensive scheme.
I was expecting to see explosions, power, or something that made me believe his hype, but after skimming through six of his games, I don’t see much. There are glimpses, but there isn’t anything that makes me want to put him above other talents in his group.
Most Underrated: Sincere McCormick, UTSA
McCormick is rarely talked about but has some of the best traits compared to other top running back prospects. He displays incredible vision and playmaking ability, and can very easily get himself out of difficult situations. He isn’t quite a ‘breakaway’ back, and doesn’t possess game-changing speed, but is very shifty and can break tackles in the open field better than any other 2022 prospect. He’s a smaller player, but he’s built very well and plays much bigger than what his measurables might read.
Watch Out For: Jerrion Ealy, Ole Miss
Mark my words- Ealy will unleash a different monster in 2021. After watching only 3 of his game tapes from 2020, I noticed how special he could end up being. He’s a downhill runner that shows glimpses of explosive behavior. He’s a jack of all trades but hasn’t quite mastered himself in any specific areas yet. He shows patience when the trenches are crowded, displays good vision, and could potentially be a 3-down back. As long as he improves, he can definitely be a top RB in this class.
Preseason Top 5:
1. Brian Robinson Jr., Alabama – A patient yard-eater with great vision and strength traits. He challenges defenders with his motor and his physicality.
2. Zamir White, Georgia – A natural playmaker with tons of potential. Knows how to shift into second gear as soon as the ball touches his hands. Experienced goal-line and short-yardage threat.
3. Sincere McCormick, UTSA – A crafty, smooth runner that doesn’t shy away from making contact. He plays much bigger than he actually is, and uses his legs to both make moves on defenders and power through them.
4. Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M – Explosive runner with breakaway speed and incredible open-field moves that defenders can rarely stop. Plays high, but still isn’t afraid to draw contact.
5. Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State – Don’t underestimate this dynamic playmaker just because of his size – he’s a Darren Sproles-Esque athlete that is effective in both the run game and passing attack.
Just Missed: Kyren Williams (Notre Dame), Jerrion Ealy (Ole Miss), Breece Hall (Iowa State), Kennedy Brooks (Oklahoma), Max Borghi (Washington State)
There are a lot of explosive athletes in this upcoming class. The running back position is the most replaceable in the NFL as of right now, but some of these tailbacks have unteachable traits that could cause them to increase in value. Last season we saw two main running backs drawing a lot of attention (being Najee Harris and Travis Etienne), and although the same can’t be said for this class quite yet, there’s still a lot of time and a lot of talent.