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With Super Bowl LVI and the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine in the rearview and the 2022 NFL Draft on the horizon (April 28th), it’s time to look toward the next group of talent to hit the pro ranks. Below is our rankings list of the top prospects at the running back position in the 2022 NFL Draft class.
To make our rankings we reviewed all the major rankings out there [drafttek.com, nfl.com, thedraftnetwork.com, cbssports.com, pff.com, & walterfootball.com]. We then allocated points to each player in each ranking to come up with the most comprehensive list with the highest power.
Check back with us after the draft for our thoughts and fantasy football projections.
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 210 | School: Michigan State
Production (2021): 1,636 RuYds, 6.2 RuYds/Att, 89 RecYds, 19 TDs
Walker is a compact back with a very powerful, sturdy base. He can find his own yards with twitchy directional change when run-blocking breaks down and possesses plus-rated contact balance to add on to his yardage throughout the game. Walker is a very determined runner who is more reactive than instinctive, which leads to wild shifts in his rush track. He can handle RB1 workload in terms of carries but needs work as a third-down option. Walker would benefit from better rush-track discipline, but his explosiveness and unpredictable style should still lead to success as a future starter.
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 220 | School: Iowa State
Production (2021): 1,472 RuYds, 5.8 RuYds/Att, 302 RecYds, 23 TDs
Will give NFL evaluators early starter vibes with his blend of size, power and creativity. Hall isn’t very sudden in tight quarters but gets better as the run play progresses with good vision and an above-average sense for how to beat second-level tacklers. He has surprising build-up speed once he’s in the open field but might not have the instant gas to become a plus outside runner. His running style is willful when it needs to be and he’s adept at moving the chains on “got to have it” short-yardage carries. Hall has full-package, three-down talent with surprisingly soft hands out of the backfield and should find early touches as a Day 2 draft pick with above-average potential.
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 225 | School: Texas A&M
Production (2021): 1,011 RuYds, 5.6 RuYds/Att, 189 RecYds, 7 TDs
Volume-carry running back with good size and talent for starting consideration as a pro. He was slowed, at times, by inconsistent run blocking but was still productive and consistent for much of the 2021 season. He has interior vision and loose hips, allowing him to locate and get to run lanes regardless of traffic. Spiller runs with good elusiveness but stays in that mode a little too long, which can affect his ability to finish with authority. He’s a solid back but not overly dynamic and lacks the desired third-down value right now.
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 198 | School: Notre Dame
Production (2021): 1,002 RuYds, 4.9 RuYds/Att, 359 RecYds, 17 TDs
Fiery team leader and combative runner who leaves it all out on the field. Williams has been a worker bee with a willingness to do the heavy lifting on all three downs and has premium third-down talent both in blitz pickup and as a route-runner out of the backfield. The Patriots’ usage of James White, Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden might be the blueprint for how to utilize Williams in the NFL.
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 194 | School: Georgia
Production (2021): 728 RuYds, 6.4 RuYds/Att, 284 RecYds, 11 TDs
Change-of-pace runner with vision and flow but a lack of functional play strength. The younger brother of Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, James has his brother’s one-cut talent and ability to stack cuts seamlessly through the second level. However, he is missing his big brother’s build, contact balance and toughness between the tackles, which will surely cap expectations and asks from an NFL club. His slashing style fits with outside zone and toss plays. He can also be used as a mismatch option as a pass-catcher. Cook has big-play ability but is unlikely to see his carry count get very high.
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 226 | School: Alabama
Production (2021): 1,343 RuYds, 5.0 RuYds/Att, 296 RecYds, 16 TDs
Robinson is an absolute physical unit with good feet and power to add yards after contact, but his running style is predictable and somewhat indecisive between the tackles. Building and maintaining momentum doesn’t always come easily. He’s more fight than flight, but delays in processing and a lack of second-level creativity turn him into more of a road-grader than he needs to be. He is a linear runner who is likely to be utilized as a complementary bulldozer to help wear down defenses, but Robinson might have more potential from sideline to sideline than he receives credit for.
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 220 | School: Florida
Production (2021): 574 RuYds, 5.7 RuYds/Att, 216 RecYds, 16 TDs
It’s a fun afternoon of tape study watching Pierce play the game like a coiled spring ready to explode on each snap. He’s an urgent runner with twitchy downfield burst, tackle-breaking leg drive and outstanding balance through contact. He reads and reacts to block development quickly and creates additional yardage with both power and subtle shiftiness. Pierce was highly productive (16 total touchdowns) in 2021 despite an embarrassingly low usage rate by the coaching staff. He has plenty of tread left on the tires and fits into any run-blocking scheme as a quality future starter or member of a RB tandem.
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 220 | School: Cincinnati
Production (2021): 1,319 RuYds, 6.1 RuYds/Att, 220 RecYds, 20 TDs
Well-built back with NFL size and athletic ability but the vision and creativity are just OK. Ford lacks the desired instincts and recognition of run-lane development, but he’s fast, strong and athletic. He has the tools to find yards with those traits. He’s a talented, explosive option out of the backfield with soft hands and the speed to mismatch linebackers out in space. The pieces aren’t all in place, but Ford could have a future as a change-of-pace slasher with third-down value.
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 210 | School: Arizona State
Production (2021): 1,006 RuYds, 5.5 RuYds/Att, 456 RecYds, 16 TDs
Running back with size and senior year production, but the tape is more average than exciting. White is a tight-hipped runner lacking desired lateral agility and burst after changing direction. He has a tendency to be slowed or stopped by first-level tacklers but is a more natural runner once he gets up to the second level. He fails to show enough creativity to escape the “gets what is blocked” tag, but he does run with adequate vision. His lack of breakaway speed and limited special teams background won’t help his chances, so he needs to shine early in camp to give himself an opportunity to make a team as a RB3.
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 215 | School: Georgia
Production (2021): 856 RuYds, 5.3 RuYds/Att, 75 RecYds, 11 TDs
White is a naturally powerful runner with a lower half that is hard to knock off-balance no matter how clean the shot. He’s not very dynamic as a runner but is a two-way creator with lateral jump-cuts to avoid tackles and the power to run through them. He’s a wide-base runner who should excel in gap and inside zone schemes but his running style might not lend itself to a long career. He has two ACL tears in his background and is unlikely to play on passing downs, but he’s a formidable “thunder” back waiting to be paired with a “lightning” cohort and will give running games a chance to test the resolve of defenses for four full quarters.
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 223 | School: Michigan
Production (2021): 1,327 RuYds, 4.9 RuYds/Att, 131 RecYds, 20 TDs
Big runner who is much more workmanlike than dynamic with the ball in his hands. In his lone season as a lead back, Haskins’ downhill, physical style was well-paired with the “cloud of dust” rushing philosophy for Michigan. He might be forced to run with less patience and more urgency to stay a step ahead of NFL pursuit. While he played the role he was cast into, there were signs (versus Penn State) that he might have some potential as an inside/outside back. Haskins won’t make a living out of dodging tacklers, and big chain-movers who lack wiggle are not hard to find. He still has a chance to stick in the NFL if he lands in the right situation.
Height: 5-7 | Weight: 199 | School: Missouri
Production (2021): 1,604 RuYds, 6.0 RuYds/Att, 330 RecYds, 18 TDs
Undersized, change-of-pace back with a big heart and pass-catching talent. Despite a lack of desired size, Badie took on a monster workload and produced at a high level. He played in a run scheme heavily tilted to outside zone and is at his best in space, although he’s natural and confident in tight run lanes. He’s a tough runner but lacks short-yardage leg drive, so his role as a pro could be fairly well-defined as a talented third-down back who can handle an occasional spike in carries if needed.
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 198 | School: Florida
Production (2021): 682 RuYds, 5.3 RuYds/Att, 83 RecYds, 6 TDs
Height, weight, speed prospect with bell-cow size. However, Price lacks the consistency and skill level of an every-down runner. His upright, indecisive running style causes carries to end abruptly due to a lack of pad level and momentum. He runs with a narrow base and limited wiggle, which hinders his elusiveness. He does have impressive build-up speed to take runs to the house if linebackers miss their fun fit. He was hurt by inconsistent blocking and a scheme that might not be the best fit for him. Price needs it well-blocked and must play faster, but he has traits teams are willing to work with and develop.
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 221 | School: Baylor
Production (2021): 1,601 RuYds, 6.2 RuYds/Att, 75 RecYds, 12 TDs
Big, tough prospect who went from running back to linebacker and then back to running back during his collegiate career. Smith proved a formidable fit in Baylor’s zone scheme with a patient but decisive approach and a natural feel for cutback lanes. He became more comfortable in stretch plays as the season wore on but his average burst and linear running style make it easier for linebackers to find him. He has adequate contact balance and gives as good as he gets as a run finisher. Smith’s lack of short-area creativity could make him zone-dependent, but he’s a natural in that scheme. He has the upside to become a committee back with three-down potential.
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 202 | School: Florida State
Production (2021): 887 RuYds, 6.2 RuYds/Att, 144 RecYds, 8 TDs
Corbin has decent size and good vision, but he will need to play with better decisiveness early in the rep, as his play speed and cut quickness are unlikely to aid him enough in eluding NFL tacklers. He responds fairly well to block development and runs with some pop, but it’s hard to find an area of his game that really stands out.
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 210 | School: NC State
Production (2021): 753 RuYds, 156 RuYds/Att, 5.4 RecYds, 3 TDs
Zonovan Knight has all the athletic talents you look for in a featured pro back, ideal size, good speed with a natural feel for finding holes in the line. He, however, has never really hit the highs we would have liked and in three years as a featured back at NC State he’s put up a respectable but not fantastic 2286 yds. He also is inexperienced as a receiver and so he will be looked at as a prospect with a few question marks.
We grade Knight as a likely mid-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft with the potential to develop into an eventual three-down NFL starter as he improves his receiving and pass blocking skills.
Who are your favorite running backs in the 2022 NFL Draft? Where are their best fits? Where do you want them to go? Share your thoughts and analysis.
Heavily researched. Thoroughly vetted.
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