NFL Draft: Top 5 Running Back Prospects
This year’s NFL draft lacks the typical flashy quarterback class that fans have been accustomed, but that doesn’t mean there is any shortage of talent. The draft has many positions that are loaded with talent, including defensive ends, offensive tackles, and wide receivers.
One particular group that is void of its typical depth and top-end talent is the running back position. There are no running backs projected to even sniff the first round, but there are always surprises come draft night. Rookie running backs always seem to have some instant success in the league, so here are the top five running backs in this year's draft class that have the best shot at becoming an impact player on day 1.
1. Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
Kenneth Walker established himself as one of the most explosive players in college football last season in his first and only year as a Michigan State Spartan.
After failing to eclipse the 600-yard mark in either of his first two collegiate seasons at Wake Forest, Walker transferred to MSU with the intention of becoming the feature back, and he sure did. Walker racked up 1,636 yards rushing along with 18 touchdowns last season.
Walker led the Spartans to one of their best seasons in recent memory. In the biggest game of his team’s season, Walker put up 208 total yards and five touchdowns against Michigan — one of the best defenses in the country. Walker is quick and decisive with his running, and also runs with outstanding balance. This blend of skills should translate to the next level, so expect Walker to light up the fantasy football scoreboards next season.
2. Breece Hall, Iowa State
Breece Hall is one of the most consistent running backs in college football history. At Iowa State, Hall has recorded a touchdown in every single game the last two seasons. His 24-straight games with a rushing touchdown set an NCAA record. Hall led the FBS in rushing in 2020, and racked up over 1,400 yards and 20 touchdowns last season.
While not the best pass-blocker, Hall’s speed and consistency should see him land a great role in a run-first scheme that will allow him to excel. He runs with great vision and always keeps his legs churning, as well as being extremely patient. Hall may need to improve on his pass catching in the league.
3. Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
Spiller accumulated over 1,000 yards rushing in each of his last two seasons as an Aggie in the SEC. Spiller, like Hall, is very patient and decisive with his running style. He has very soft hands and rarely drops passes. He also has a knack for making defenders miss in the open field.
Spiller lacks breakaway speed though, only recording a 4.63 40-yard dash, which may become a problem against the speed of NFL defenders. Spiller must improve his blocking skills and expand his route tree if he wants to become an every-down back for whichever team selects him this weekend.
4. James Cook, Georgia
Cook impressed last season as the lead back for the National Champion Bulldogs, going for over 1,000 total yards. Cook has good speed in the open field but does not show the best anticipation behind the line of scrimmage.
Cook must improve on his pass-blocking skills if he wants to carve out a role on an NFL squad. He also needs to improve his strength, something a few months in an NFL weight room should improve.
Cook has above average receiving ability for a back, something NFL teams are increasingly valuing in prospects.
5. Brian Robinson, Alabama
After waiting his turn behind several other NFL-level running backs at Alabama, Robinson finally got his chance to shine this season and did not let the opportunity slip away. Robinson racked up over 1,600 total yards last season for the Crimson Tide, adding 16 touchdowns as well.
While he doesn’t have blazing speed, he has the ideal body to withstand the grind of the running back position at the next level. Although he doesn’t have a ton of experience, the lack of tread on his tires can be an asset for a long career.
Jameson Kramer is a third-year student majoring in sports journalism, to contact him, email email@example.com.
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