Top 9 Running Backs in the 2022 NFL Draft: Kenneth Walker Over Breece Hall?

With the NFL Draft just over 2 months away, the countdown has officially begun for teams to start mending their weaknesses before the start of the 2022 NFL season. If your team needs a running back this offseason, odds are your answer lies in the draft. Here’s a look at the top 9 running back prospects entering this year’s NFL Draft.

Top 9 Running Backs in the 2022 NFL Draft

1) Isiah Spiller

Height: 6-1    Weight: 215    40 Time: 4.49s

NFL coaching schemes increasingly ask two things from running backs — pick up tough yardage on 3rd or 4th and short, and be able to catch the ball out of the back field. Isaiah Spiller can do both of these things in spades. With a 4.49 40 and even better lateral quickness, Spiller is great at turning the slightest crease into a 10-15 yard gain. He may not have the fastest 40 time on this list, but many scouts report his in-game speed is second to none and his film backs this up. He has the ability to muscle over guys, but is also an incredibly tactical runner, almost operating as a shifty point guard in the open field — employing head fakes and quick directional changes with great timing. Despite being one of the faster guys in the draft, Spiller is one of the most patient, always waiting for plays to develop. He will, however, need to improve his blocking skills to be a 3 down back at the next level. He also has a tendency to gear down and lose momentum too often, something that will be more clearly exposed in the NFL.

2) Kenneth Walker

Height: 5-10    Weight: 210    40 Time: 4.46s

Like Johnathan Taylor 2 years ago, Kenneth Walker is another 5’ 10” back out of the Big Ten who, despite being on the shorter side, is an absolute handful in the backfield. He’s a natural runner who’s deceptively strong on his feet thanks to his explosive 210 lb frame. With 1,636 yards in his senior season, no power 5 running back ran for more yards in 2021 than Kenneth Walker. He’s got solid hands and is a formidable pass blocker though this is one area he may need to work on. He absorbs contact as well as anyone on this list and has never been a real injury concern. Perhaps his biggest assets are his vision and ball control, which allow him to pick the right holes and make the right cuts. He does have a tendency to do a little too much which can often lead to big losses. He will also need to improve his pass blocking and ability to read blocks behind pulling guards.

3) Breece Hall

Height: 6-1    Weight: 220    40 Time: 4.39s

Breece Hall is a physical freak. Standing a 6’1” 220 lbs with a 4.39 40, Hall may end up with the best measurables of any guy on this list. His ability to pick up tough yards and fight through tackles will make him a great red zone back in the NFL, and that doesn’t even factor in his WR level speed. Despite looking better than Walker and Spiller on paper, though, Hall isn’t quite as dynamic in the open field. He has great North-South speed, but isn’t the shiftiest back and often appears slower with the ball in his hands. He also played in a college offense that featured one of the more dynamic passing games. His size and power alone make him someone worth taking, especially given the value he adds in pass and run blocking schemes.

4) Kyren Williams

Height: 5-9    Weight: 199    40 Time: 4.44s

Kyren Williams brings a unique set of skills to the table at the running back position. His gymnast-level balance allows him to break tackles and stay upright even when his lower body is hit. He’s almost like an oracle in the open field, reading the moves of the defense fractions of a second before they happen. Perhaps most impressive is his versatility as a special teams threat and receiver. He was trusted on more than just check downs, but as a legitimate route runner at Notre Dame which will be a huge advantage as he gets integrated into NFL offenses. At 199 lbs, Williams is on the slightly smaller side of the list, and this shows up in pass blocking where he can be a liability at times. He also struggles to read blocks sometimes as a rusher and will not be able to move the pile in the NFL.

5) Dameon Pierce

Height: 5-10    Weight: 210    40 Time: 4.51s

On film Dameon Pierce looks like Breece Hall with more lateral quickness and less explosiveness. At 5’10” 220 lbs, he’s got the perfect size to not only pick up short yardage near the goal line, but also make people miss in the open field. He’s a good pass catcher with multiple receiving touchdowns in his senior season including one for 61 yards. Compared to a lot of other guys on the board, Pierce doesn’t have many rushing attempts — largely because of the offensive scheme he played in college — so how he holds up with consistent reps over a season still remains to be seen. Overall, though, he’s a multifaceted back that can run, catch, and block. His lack of explosion off the line of scrimmage is his biggest detractor.

6) Rachaad White

Height: 6-2    Weight: 210    40 Time: 4.46s

Standing at 6’2” 210 lbs, Rachaad White looks more like a WR in the open field than a RB — and his hands tell a similar story. Even Spiller, who’s highly touted as one of the best pass catching backs in this class, pales in comparison to White’s 453 receiving yards in 2021. As a rusher, White went for 1,006 yards on 5.5 yards a carry in his senior season. He isn’t physically dominating or particularly elusive like the guys above him on the board, though his unique skill set in the passing game will be enough for a team to take a chance on him. To become a consistent feature in the NFL, though, he will need to improve his blocking in both rushing and passing schemes where he has too often been defined by inconsistent technique.

7) Brian Robinson Jr

Height: 6-1    Weight: 226    40 Time: 4.51s

A 4 year back out of Alabama, Brian Robinson makes a name for himself as a grinder and a blocker. He’s a formidable rusher with a lot of burst, though he does lack some of the breakneck speed and agility that’s customary for the position at the next level. His collegiate numbers are good, but need to be taken with a grain of salt given he was indisputably the fourth or fifth best back in his conference this past season despite playing with the best offensive line and quarterback combination. That said, he does have a lethal stutter step and an innate ability to change direction on a dime. Robinson also didn’t fumble once in 2021, something that will likely afford him some time to develop in the NFL.

8) Zonovan Knight

Height: 5-11    Weight: 210     40 Time: 4.45s

Unlike Robinson, Knight does have that special explosive burst out of the backfield that allows him to beat linebackers to a spot. He’s able to leverage this explosion to catapult himself though even the slightest holes and pick up 6-7 yards where it looks like there’s nothing cooking. He’s got great vision and didn’t fumble the ball once during his time at NC State. He does, however, lack experience as a receiver and has often struggled to hold up in pass blocking. He also doesn’t punch the ball into the end zone as much as one would expect given he stands at 210 lbs and was the Wolfpack’s feature back — registering only 3 touchdowns in 2021. Some of this certainly has to do with scheme, but undoubtedly some of it also has to do with the fact that his patience and explosion become less of a factor when the field gets condensed and he has to rely solely on physicality.

9) Tyler Allgeier

Height: 5-11    Weight: 220    40 Time: 4.44s

Rounding out this infallible draft board, and yes  — this is the only perfect list you’ll find on the internet — is Tyler Allgeier out of BYU. Allgeier is the ultimate 4th and inches back. A guy who’s got the lower body strength of Nick Chubb or Aaron Jones, Allgeier will be able to move the pile at the next level and alleviate pressure in short yardage situations, particularly in the red zone. No back in college football finished the 2021 season with more touchdowns than Tyler Algeier. As a solid pass catcher who’s able to adjust to balls in the air, he can operate as a dual threat in the back field. Despite his size, though, he’s not a very good pass blocker and actually offers very little in this regard. He’s also been known to be hesitant at the line of scrimmage, too often making bad reads when he does commit.

As a central Ohio native and lifelong Cleveland sports fan, Patrick Monnin has lived the emotional rollercoaster every sports fan knows all too well. Whether it be the Browns or the Buckeyes, he loves watching football and going on nice long runs in the afternoon. In the local Chicago area, where he now lives, he can often be found making the case for LeBron James as the greatest basketball player ever.

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