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Which Rookie Running Backs Will Have The Biggest Impact?

Which Rookie Running Backs Will Have The Biggest Impact?

Breece Hall

Breece Hall was the first RB off the board, landing in the second round to the New York Jets where he should take most of the workload in the Jets backfield in 2022. They do have 2021 pick Michael Carter who was very productive in his usage this past season, but was not able to withstand the force of the position.

Complimenting Hall with Carter will form a formidable backfield for the Jets. When looking at the situation, it will be very fun to watch how they plan to deploy the RBs, as both have the ability to split out wide and be a receiving option in the passing game, while also being productive in inside and outside zone rushes. 

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. 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, Hall reads the opens on the field and uses his light feet to continue up field after his initial burst. Hall can cut off defenders' angles with his speed. He can be a value on 3rd down due to his secure blocking and vision in the open field.

The former Iowa State Cyclone 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.

James Cook

While James Cook doesn’t possess the running qualities of Hall or some of the other top tier backs in this class, he is the best pass catching back in this class. He is able to line up across the LOS, out wide and in the slot to run dynamic and clean routes.

Cook has natural and soft hands in the passing game and creates a mismatch when lined up against LB’s. In an offense with immense talent from the QB position and the WR position, Cook will need to show he can be a reliable option early, to gain trust in a crowded offense.

Ultimately, Cook is a premiere pass catching back and has greater value in the modern NFL than 5-10 years ago. He should be a better NFL player than he was a CFB player with his explosion, long speed, and light feet to cut off pursuit angles in open space.

Playing in a Bills offense, Cook should be used where his offense looks to get him the ball in space. He will be an option on 3rd down early in his career because of his receiving ability and ability to create on his own in space.

Tyler Allgeier

Tyler Allgeier, the converted LB to RB out of BYU, found a home in Atlanta during the NFL Draft. After being selected, the team waived Mike Davis, thinning out the RB room. The starter on the Falcons offense will be Cordarrelle Patterson, after his breakout season in 2021. With his heavy running style, and his past injury history, it would be a likely bet to assume he gets injured at some point during the season.

Either way, Allgeier could see snaps on offense to spell Patterson if he is able to climb the depth chart to be in front of Damien Williams, who has only had 41 carries in the past 2 seasons combined.

Allgeier remains patient to find gaps and can sift through bodies at the second level with outstanding contact balance and toughness. He has 3rd down upside despite being very raw in pass protection (is willing) but is a soft/natural pass catcher. He should contribute early and serve value as a premiere ST option with upside at the position as he is semi-new to it.

Treston Ebner

Ebner, the RB out of Baylor, was selected in the 6th round by the Chicago Bears. While this choice will not have the biggest impact on offense, Ebner is far and away the choice for impact on special teams. He is a dynamic and explosive kick and punt return with excellent vision in open space.

Ebner is not the typical “burner”, although he did run a 4.43s at 5’11 206lbs. He wins on special teams with his vision, and his quick/dynamic cuts. Ebner could come into the league and be a top-10 option as a returner on special teams, which makes his impact on the 2022 season as great as potentially any on this list.

Ebner averaged 32.2 yards per kick return in 2020 with 2 KRTDs, and followed this up in 2021 with 22.2 yards per kick return, 1 KRTD as well as an 8.1 yards per punt return average.