2019 Running Back Prospects II

By John Laub
John Laub

 

 

 

  2019 Running Back Prospects II

            Ranking the Runners

 

 

  

  

7. Justice Hill, Oklahoma State

Multi-dimensional Cowboy shined on the gridiron and at the Combine. In 2018 and 2017, All-Big 12 First Team. In 2017, First Team All-Big 12 Academic selection and Thurman Thomas Award (OSU’s Outstanding Offensive Player) winner. In 2016, Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and Freshman All-America First Team. Recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons: In 2016, paced all FBS Freshmen with 1,142 rushing yards and in 2017, finished atop the Big 12 with 1,467 rushing yards. In 2018, totaled 930 rushing yards after missing two games with a rib injury. Concluded career with 31 total touchdowns and 3,843 yards from scrimmage. At 5-foot-10 and 198 pounds, a shifty playmaker with outstanding change-of-direction ability. Impressive burst with fantastic feet. Effortlessly makes cuts in traffic and quick through the hole. Very good vision and contact balance. Forces missed tackles with spin moves and wiggle. Tremendous lateral agility and jump-cut ability. Dangerous in space and attacks the second-level of the defense. A dual-threat ball carrier with striking route running skills. Stupendous Combine performance: Finished first among runners in 40-yard dash, vertical jump (40’) and broad jump (10’10”) and in top ten in bench press reps (21). An undersized prospect who is not a piledriver and goes down upon first contact. Not a creative runner. Looks to hit home run on every play instead of taking a three-yard gain. Skill set foreshadows success in zone scheme. 

Key Career Stats

Yards per Carry: 5.6

Receptions: 49

Breakaway Ability

40-yard Dash: 4.40

3-Cone Drill: n/a

20-yard Shuttle: n/a

Draft Grade: Third round

  

 

8. James Williams, Washington State
Dynamic pass-catcher who is the preeminent satellite back in the Draft. 2018 All-Pac-12 honorable mention after leading Cougars in rushing and receiving. Totaled 1,173 all-purpose yards and scored 16 times. Corralled 83 passes: Most by a running back in the country. In 2017, tallied 946 all-purpose yards and logged 71 catches. In 2016, named Freshman All-American honorable mention after totaling 953 all-purpose yards. In school history, tied for third with 202 career receptions and finished ninth with 2,977 yards from scrimmage. Recorded six career games with over 10 catches and scored 27 times. Established a Pac-12 single-season mark for catches by a running back last season. At 5-foot-9 and 197 pounds, an electric playmaker with slippery and magical feet. Subtle and coordinated combination of feet, hips, hands, shoulders and head to elude tacklers. Incredible spatial awareness. Spins and bounces off tacklers. Effortlessly catches football with soft hands and immediately bolts upfield. Runs with vision and fortitude. An artist with ball in hands. Terrorizes opponents with jump cuts and lateral quickness. Plants feet and hops around tacklers. Pivots on a dime by sinking hips and lowering shoulders. Employs an effective stiff arm to escape defenders. Very good contact balance. An astute scouting department will identify Williams eccentric skill set and target him in the middle rounds. Provides offensive coordinators with a valuable chess piece in creative schemes.
Key Career Stats
Yards per Carry: 4.9
Receptions: 202
Breakaway Ability
40-yard Dash: 4.58
3-Cone Drill: 7.01
20-yard Shuttle: 4.25
Draft Grade: Third round

 

9. Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic

Poor Combine scores a red flag in regard to professional productivity. 2018 C-USA First Team and tied for second in the nation with 22 rushing touchdowns. In 2017, C-USA MVP, First Team All-Conference and First FAU player to earn AP All-American honors (Second Team). Led nation with 32 rushing touchdowns (third all-time) and recorded 12 consecutive games with over 100 yards rushing. Ranked third in nation with 83 missed tackles according to PFF. In 2016, rushed for over 1,000 yards as a true freshman at 19-years old. During career, posted three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, exceeded 100-yards rushing 22 times and surpassed 200-yards rushing in four games. Left campus as school’s all-time rushing leader with 4,289 yards and rushing touchdowns with 66. A compact frame at 5-foot-7 and 203 pounds. Downhill runner with breathtaking balance and burst. Runs with power and breaks arm tackles. World-class vision. Great lateral quickness and makes smooth cuts. Creative runner who solves problems with stupendous spatial awareness. Strings together jump cuts to elude tacklers. Effortlessly bounces plays outside and blasts off upfield. Excellent elusiveness and easily changes direction. Instinctive ability to make opponents whiff: Forces missed tackles on a regular basis. Underrated goal line runner: Gets skinny and finds paydirt. Astounding acceleration to produce chunk plays. Keeps legs moving and fights for additional yards. Good route runner despite limited usage as a receiver. Imperfect pass blocker but is willing. Must improve pass catching abilities. Only 22-years old when the NFL season kicks off. Projects best in a zone-running scheme. An underrated prospect ascending draft boards across the country.

Key Career Stats

Yards per Carry: 6.0

Receptions: 51

Breakaway Ability

40-yard Dash: 4.66

3-Cone Drill: 7.32

20-yard Shuttle: 4.40

Draft Grade: Third round

 


10. Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Rising up rankings after eye-opening Combine: Among running back prospects, finished first in bench press (34) and 20-yard shuttle, second in 3-cone drill, third in vertical jump (38.5’) and fifth in broad jump (10’6”). In 2018, All-Big 12 First Team after leading the conference in rushing with 1,355 yards. Also, scored 12 touchdowns and snatched 20 passes for 194 yards. In school history, finished career ranked second in yards per carry (5.71) and 100-yard rushing games (12), fourth in yards (2,616) and yards per game (112.9), and ninth in rushing touchdowns (25). Kinesiology major who graduated a year early. In 2016 and 2018, All-Big 12 Academic Second Team. At 6-foot-0 and 226 pounds, captivating combination of power, size and speed. Patient and nuanced runner with nimble feet. Finely tuned competitor who runs effortlessly and smoothly. Noteworthy jab step to elude defenders. Power to break arm tackles and effective stiff arm. Impressive leg drive to push pile and take tacklers for a ride. A bulldozer in one-on-one matchups. Shifty runner who follows blockers in traffic and runs with superb pad level. Hits second gear and blows past opponents. Capable pass catcher with strong hands. Not a creative or elusive runner. Fails to reach the perimeter rapidly. Poor pass protector and gets pushed around. In 2017, battled ankle injury and limited usage. Compares favorably to David Johnson and Nick Chubb as athletes. A downhill runner who would be best utilized in a gap scheme. One of the best kept secrets in the Class of 2019 and will surprise draftniks. 
Key Career Stats
Yards per Carry: 5.3
Receptions: 25
Breakaway Ability
40-yard Dash: 4.59
3-Cone Drill: 6.95
20-yard Shuttle: 4.10
Draft Grade: Third round

 

11. Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M
Overrated prospect who projects as a contributor not an every down runner. 2018 All-American Second Team and All-SEC First Team after rushing for 1,524 yards and scoring 15 touchdowns. Also, corralled 27 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown. Led SEC in rushing yards and all-purpose yards (1,802). Eclipsed 200 yards rushing twice and exceeded 100 yards eight times in 2018. At annual team banquet, bestowed Offensive Leadership, Offensive MVP and Top Conditioned Athlete Awards. In 2016, first true freshman to surpass the 1,000-yard barrier in Aggies history. Averaged 95.1 rushing yards per game during three seasons on campus. Great character and leadership. At 5-foot-8 and 206 pounds, durable and versatile runner. Employs good vision, nice burst and quick feet to navigate through tight windows. Accelerates to the edge and scampers upfield. Very good pass catcher who executes screens well. Employed in aerial attack from the backfield and split wide. Despite smaller stature, adroit pass blocker. Does not break enough tackles or plow through tacklers and goes down upon first contact. As a professional, a change of pace back in a two-back rotation.
Key Career Stats
Yards per Carry: 6.0
Receptions: 66
Breakaway Ability
40-yard Dash: 4.51
3-Cone Drill: 7.44
20-yard Shuttle: 4.44
Draft Grade: Fourth round

 

 

12. Bryce Love, Stanford

Stanford speedster offers an incredible risk-reward return on investment among the runners. In 2017, replaced Christian McCaffrey, one of most prolific runners in college football history. Named Doak Walker Award Winner, Lombardi Award Winner, Pac-12 Offensive Player of the year and unanimous All-American after rushing for 2,118 yards and scoring 19 touchdowns. Finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Baker Mayfield. Decided to return to school despite ranked as a top prospect at the position. In 2018, Team Captain and All-Pac-12 honorable mention despite suffering a torn right ACL and rushing for less than 1,000 yards. Concluded Cardinals career as the all-time leader in yards per carry (6.8), fourth in rushing yards (3,866) and fourth in 100-yard rushing games (16). Majored in human biology and plans on attending medical school after football with a career goal of becoming a pediatrician. At 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds, a slasher with atypical agility, innate balance and inordinate instincts. Extremely elusive and marvelous second-level vision. Quick feet and bursts through seam. Virtuous hips to make swift cuts. Bigger than size indicates. Runs low and overpowers tacklers intermittently. Intelligence and mental toughness. Employed in numerous formations and positions: Single back, multiple runners, shotgun, and as a receiver. Slight frame. Needs to press the line of scrimmage with conviction. Not healthy either of the past two campaigns as the lead back. Lacks polish as a pass catcher. Not a physical pass protector and can be shoved around. Major red flags: Injuries and durability. Some scouting departments will take him off board. Most likely a rotation runner as a professional. 
Key Career Stats
Yards per Carry: 6.8
Receptions: 49
Breakaway Ability
40-yard Dash: n/a
3-Cone Drill: n/a
20-yard Shuttle: n/a
Draft Grade: Fourth round