2019 Running Back Prospects II

By John Laub
John Laub

 

 

 

  2019 Running Back Prospects II

            Ranking the Runners

 

 

  

  

 

7. Justice Hill, Oklahoma State

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. Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic

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. Great lateral quickness and outstanding vision to make 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

  

 

9. James Williams, Washington State
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

 


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. Benny Snell, Jr., Kentucky

2017 and 2018 All-SEC First Team. In 2016, Freshman All-American. In SEC history, only third player (Herschel Walker and Knowshon Moreno) with over 1,000 rushing yards and more than 13 rushing touchdowns as a freshman and sophomore. Scored double-digit touchdowns and over 1,000 yards rushing all three seasons in a Wildcats’ uniform. Father drafted by Baltimore Ravens in 1998 and great uncle is Matt Snell, New York Jets Super Bowl III star. Nicknamed “Snell Ya Later.” At 5-foot-10 and 222 pounds, a workhorse who welcomes contact and decks challengers between the tackles. Patient runner with vision and power. Short strider and classic one-cut ball carrier. Runs low behind pads, leans forward while going down and twists and falls for extra yards. Tenacious competitor who embraces heavy workload and moves the pile with strong leg drive. At times, employed in the Wildcat formation behind center. Excellent at pass protection. Squares up blitzers and packs a punch. Bounces plays outside at times. Slow acceleration through the hole. Lacks elite burst cutting and planting. Not elusive and fails to break a lot of tackles. Limited pass catcher: Mainly a check-down option. Does not own elite traits. Nice career ahead as a professional in a gap or power running scheme.

Key Career Stats

Yards per Carry: 5.3

Receptions: 29

Breakaway Ability

40-yard Dash: 4.66

3-Cone Drill: 7.07

20-yard Shuttle: 4.33

Draft Grade: Fourth round

 

12. Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M
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