By Isaiah Watson and Ben Elsner
1. RB Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
Isaiah Spiller started 9 games as a freshman, receiving SEC All-Freshman Team honors. Spiller finished his Sophomore year ranked 3rd in the SEC averaging 103.6 yds/game. Prior to the 2021 season Spiller was a preseason Heisman Award Watch List candidate.
With the ability to come in and make an early impact for a team, Isaiah Spiller is a 1st and 2nd down back, probably to be replaced early in his career on 3rd due to poor pass protection technique and unsure hands. His make-you-miss ability allows him to create on his own and with dynamic speed/explosiveness to be a threat with the ball at any time. He possesses a strong lower body with room to grow up top, and has shown toughness & durability playing through injury. Spiller had solid production against ranked opponents during his career as a starter, which shows his ability to do it against top tier opponents. Project Spiller as a late 1st/2nd round talent that would make an early impact to an NFL teams backfield.
2. RB Breece Hall, Iowa State
In 2020, Breece Hall led the NCAA in total rushing yards and followed it up with a 2021 campaign in which he rushed for the 8th most yards. He has been a premier back in the BIG12 for Matt Campbell’s offense for two straight seasons. Hall has had over 500 carries combined the past two seasons and close to 700 carries in 3 seasons with the Cyclones. Hall is a sturdy RB with outstanding instincts and patience behind the LOS. He waits for his blocks to develop, hits a hole with burst, and is able to dissect quickly and effectively at the second level.
At the second level, he reads the opens on the field and uses his light feet to continue upfield after his initial burst. Hall can cut off defenders’ angles with his speed. His issues arise with his flexibility and bend as he can play high in and out of his cuts which limit the explosion and MYM nature. He can be a value on 3rd down due to his secure blocking and vision in the open field. He does not possess the most complex route tree and was often used schematically as a check down. With improved technique and consistent pad level, Hall will be a three down player in the NFL as he possesses traits to run in short yardage situations and patience as well as burst to excel in outside rushes. Hall will be one of the top backs in this class and is pro-ready. He can take a jump to the next level with the addition of a more diverse route tree and the improvement of his bend.
3. RB Brian Robinson, Alabama
Brian Robinson has been a contributor on the Alabama offense since his freshman season in a limited capacity as a rusher. He sat behind backs such as Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris for multiple seasons before getting a full workload in 2021 with 271 carries and 36 receptions for the Crimson Tide. Robinson is an effortlessly physical and natural power back with underrated AA. Shows strong burst and uncharacteristically light feet in between the tackles and in open space. If he can remain consistent with sinking in and out of his cuts, the yardage displacement on jump cuts is top tier. Impressive ability to maintain speed when going up field, and is an underrated option in the passing game. Robinson needs to work on consistency in his bend into contact as he is naturally high with his height and leggy build. In pass pro, he does not lack effort, but can have lapses in processing. He is a player you want out on the field in all situations, but can spell carries to a slighter, shiftier, more elusive back on 3rd down early. Despite a lack of long speed, his burst, power and skill moves can cut off pursuit angles. Robinson can play right away as an RB1 for a team on all 3 downs as he is strong in pass protection and as a pass catcher.
4. RB Kenneth Walker, Michigan State
Kenneth Walker transferred from Wake Forest after his second year. At Wake was ranked 3rd as a freshman with 579 yards on 98 carries and 4TD’s. As a Sophomore he was tied for 3rd in the ACC with 579 yards and 13TDs. Walker is a tough nosed runner and will oftentimes find the open seam within the box of a defense. Walker is also able to bounce to the outside with speed to gain the edge.
He is not going to impress too much with his make you miss ability. Out of the backfield, he catches the ball well, by using his hands extended away from his body as he leaks out of the backfield. With his struggles in pass protection he will most likely be a mid 2nd – 4th round back who early on in his career could be used mostly as a change of pace back. He does have the potential to be an every down back if he can improve his blocking on 3rd down with refined technique.
5. RB Dameon Pierce, Florida
Dameon Pierce has been underutilized in his career at Florida never topping 106 carries in a season, and split time with many backs. This season, in his reps, he averaged 5.7 yards per carry and was involved in RPO with his mobile QB. Pierce is a solid back without a dominant trait. He is a compact, physical runner with great contact balance and agility. He is an underrated athlete with strong COD.
His limitations can be attributed to serviceable but limited speed and burst. Vision can be solid if approach isn’t sped up. He is a back who will see the field on 3rd down due to pass protection and receiving skills and can contribute early on ST on kick coverage. Pierce was a winner at the Senior Bowl showing an above average jump cut, receiving ability and excelled in pass protection. He is a solid 4th round RB who can contribute early effectively, even with increased reps.