Ranking the Runners: 2022 Running Back Prospects part II

By John Laub
John Laub



    Ranking the Runners: 


           2022 Running Back Prospects part II



7. Zamir White, Georgia

Bulldogs’ bruising ball carrier shines at Combine: 40-yard dash (4.40), Broad Jump (10’8”) and Vertical Jump (33.50) illustrate full recovery from two ACL tears in 2017 and 2018. In 2021, Team Captain and led Georgia in rushing with 856 yards. Gained 84 yards on 13 carries versus Alabama in CFP Championship Game. In 2020, started every game and paced the club in rushing with 779 yards. In 2018, enrolled early in January at Georgia and redshirted after suffering a knee injury in spring practice. Finished campus tenure fifteenth all-time in rushing. In high school, five-star prospect in North Carolina and ranked No. 1 among running back prospects. Selected for the 2018 U.S. Army All-America Bowl and the Top 150 Dream Team. At 6’0” and 214-pounds, a powerful competitor who absorbs contact and gains tough yards. Well-built frame. North-south runner with good lateral cuts. Easily cuts back to find open lanes. Vision and strength to navigate through congested spaces. Bursts through holes. Quick feet and elusiveness for a big back: Can bounce plays outside. Substantial contact balance and powers through tackles. Gains extra yards after contact. Underrated agility leaving defenders gasping for air. Reaches a second gear in the open. Lack of pass-catching abilities on tape. Poor pass protector. Workhorse running back. Projects as a “thunder” back in a committee backfield. 


Scholar's Key Career Stats

Rushing Yards: 2,043

Yards per Carry: 5.3

Receptions: 17

2021 Season

Yards from Scrimmage: 931

Scrimmage Yards Dominator: 14%

Breakaway Ability 

40-yard Dash4.40

Draft GradeThird Round



8. Jerome Ford, Cincinnati 

Former Alabama ball carrier who excelled after transferring to a Group 5 program. In 2021, First Team All-AAC after rambling for 1,319 yards on the ground, averaging 6.1 ypc and scoring 19 times. Secured 21 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown. Won AAC Championship MVP: 187 yards and two touchdowns. In 2020, second on the depth chart and gained 483 rushing yards, averaged 6.6 ypc., and scored eight touchdowns. In the postseason, burst out for the Bearcats with 57 rushing yards and a touchdown versus Tulsa in AAC Championship and 97 rushing yards and a touchdown against Georgia in the Peach Bowl. In high-school, four-star recruit and No. 6 all-purpose back in the nation who relocated to Cincinnati after two years in Tuscaloosa. Pinned on the bench behind four future NFL runners. At 5’11” and 210-pounds, North-South runner who explodes upfield with acceleration and long speed. Strong inside thumper. Runs low through the hole. Identifies cut back lanes in traffic. Great change-of-direction skills with quick feet and vision. Easily sidesteps tacklers and very good acceleration. Escapes defenders in the open field. Good short-yardage runner. Keeps feet churning through contact. An underrated home run hitter. Needs to improve pass blocking technique: Defenders gain leverage and send him to the ground occasionally. Does not look like a natural pass catcher on game tape. At times, hesitant hitting the hole. Does he earn day two draft capital? Projects as a rotational runner with potential to be a full-time starter.


Scholar's Key Career Stats

Rushing Yards: 1,953

Yards per Carry: 6.1

Receptions: 3.1

2021 Season

Yards from Scrimmage: 1,539

Scrimmage Yards Dominator: 27% 

Breakaway Ability 

40-yard Dash: 4.46

Draft Grade: Fourth Round


Gridiron Scholar's Running Back Model

(Click the link above to see the model and Class of 2022 prospects)


9. Pierre Strong, Jr., South Dakota

Jackrabbits’ FCS All-American makes jump to NFL as a top ten position prospect. Remarkable resume at South Dakota: produced three 1,000-yard crusades, averaged 7.2 ypc., recorded 62 receptions and scored 43 times. In 2021, FCS First Team All-American (AP) and Finalist Walter Payton Award: 1,686 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. In 2019, Second Team All-American (HERO Sports) and Third Team FCS (Phil Steele). In 2018, exploded for first 1,000-yard crusade as a redshirt freshman. Named FCS First Team Freshman All-America (HERO Sports) and MVFC Freshman of the Year. In high school, three time all-state honors (Arkansas) and competed in track and field. A 4.37 40-yard dash, 10’4” Broad Jump and 36” Vertical Jump at the Combine illustrates NFL speed-size-explosion combo. At 5’11” and 207-pounds, one-cut runner who excels against the grain. Gets to the perimeter and explodes upfield. Quick-twitch athleticism and excellent vision. Home run hitter who is competitive and durable. Shifty and fluid glider with prodigious acceleration. Spidey-sense identifies would-be tacklers. Patience to follow blockers. Good vision in traffic. Thrives in a zone-blocking scheme. Tough competitor who runs behind pads. Elusive in the open field. Limited pass-catching chores and pass-blocking duties. Lacks elite contact balance. Do not be surprised if an organization selects the SDSU ball carrier on day two of the draft.


Scholar's Key Career Stats

Rushing Yards: 4,527

Yards per Carry: 7.2

Receptions: 62

2021 Season

Yards from Scrimmage: 28%

Scrimmage Yards Dominator: 1,836

Breakaway Ability 

40-yard Dash: 4.37

Draft Grade: Fourth Round


10. Tyler Badie, Missouri 

Tigers’ dynamic pass-catching ball carrier propels up rankings after impressive season. In 2021, First Team All-SEC after leading the conference in rushing with 1,604 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. Secured 54 passes for 330 yards and four scores. In 2019 and 2020, SEC Academic Honor Roll. In 2018, SEC All-Freshman Team with 567 scrimmage yards on 101 touches. Concluded career with 126 receptions and in school history, ranks third with 3,889 scrimmage yards and seventh in rushing yards. New Orleans native and earned a degree in Sports Management. At Combine, posted a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash. In high school, three-star recruit by 247Sports. In 2016, rushed for 400 yards on 40 carries and three touchdowns in a game. At 5’8” and 197-pounds, big-play competitor who is lightning fast and agile. Fluid and patient runner with good contact balance. Embraces hits despite smaller stature. Stupendous stop-and-start slipperiness. Twists ankles in traffic. Slides and explodes through tight quarters. Very good wiggle and quick feet. Beats defenders to the edge. Excellent second gear in the open field. Versatile offensive weapon who can be employed in the backfield, in the slot, on the outside and placed in motion. Expanded route tree on resume. Very good pass catcher with soft and innate hands. Change-of-pace ball carrier. Not a pile driver. Indecisiveness at times pressing the line of scrimmage. Lean frame and under 200-pound threshold for an ideal NFL starter. Projects as a No. 2 runner ie., James White and Nyheim Hines.


Scholar's Key Career Stats

Rushing Yards: 2,740

Yards per Carry: 5.4

Receptions: 126

2021 Season

Yards from Scrimmage: 1,942

Scrimmage Yards Dominator: 36%

Breakaway Ability 

40-yard Dash4.45

Draft GradeFourth Round



11. Dameon Pierce, Florida 

Prodigious high schooler who did not capture the lead role in college, starting only 11 games over the past two seasons. Logged less than 400 touches during campus tenure. Gators’ leading ball carrier in 2020 and 2021: Earned 206 carries for 1,077 yards and 17 scores. Also registered 36 catches for 372 yards and four touchdowns. In high school, four-star recruit who broke Hershel Walker's all-time GHSAA mark. Compiled 6,779 rushing yards and 92 touchdowns and established a school record with 330 yards in a game in 2016. Glowing reports from Senior Bowl week. At 5’10” and 218-pounds, compact and solid frame. Plows through arm tackles with power and determination. Low center of gravity with very good contact balance. Remains upright upon impact. Good short-area burst and explosion with quick footwork. Lateral quickness to bounce outside. Employs a nasty stiff arm. Very hard worker who’s passion fires up teammates. Very good in pass protection and under-utilized pass catcher. Athletic scores at Combine do not match determination and fervor on the field. A backup in the NFL with some upside if given a chance to start.


Scholar's Key Career Stats

Rushing Yards: 1,806

Yards per Carry: 5.5

Receptions: 45

2021 Season

Yards from Scrimmage: 790

Scrimmage Yards Dominator: 12% 

Breakaway Ability 

40-yard Dash: 4.59

Draft Grade: Fourth Round


12. Kyren Williams, Notre Dame 

Pro Day results—4.54 (40-yard dash), 4.19 (20-yard shuttle) and 6.94 (3-cone drill)—closed the gap between film grades and athletic scores. Electric three-down playmaker on tape. In 2021, Team Captain, Finalist Paul Hornung Award and Doak Walker Award Candidate. In 2020, Freshman of the Year (FWAA), Freshman All-America (The Athletic), Second Team All-ACC, ACC Rookie of the Year and Semifinalist Doak Walker Award. Logged consecutive 1,000-yard crusades on campus. In high school, four-star prospect who played wide receiver. First Team Missouri Football All-State (2018). At 5’9” and 194-pounds, slippery and elusive runner with a distinctive combination of creativity and fortitude. Stellar explosiveness. Stupendous change of direction skills: Breaks would-be tacklers ankles, and ankles. Stops-and-starts rapidly. Immediate acceleration. Excels in open space. Incredibly fast feet and easily bounces plays outside. Routinely breaks tackles. Remarkable body control. Very good vision to uncover holes and propel through. Tough competitor. First-rate pass catcher who was featured as a route runner down field. Low center of gravity. Possibly, best pass protector in the class. Stonewalls blitzers: Plays much bigger and more powerful than size indicates. Modest size for an NFL ball carrier. At times, hesitates at the line of scrimmage. Must read blocks better. Versatile gamebreaker who will carve out a nice role in the right scheme as a professional.


Scholar's Key Career Stats

Rushing Yards: 2,146

Yards per Carry: 5.1

Receptions: 78

2021 Season

Yards from Scrimmage: 1,438

Scrimmage Yards Dominator: 27%

Breakaway Ability 

40-yard Dash: 4.54

Draft Grade: Day Three