Nason’s Prospect Primer Series: Running Backs

Kenneth Walker, Michigan State, Jr.

Measurements: 5’10, 210

2021 Stats: 12 GP, 264 Att, 1,646 Yds, 18 TD, 13 Rec, 89 Yds, 1 TD, 1 Fum, 1 Lst

Awards/Accomplishments: 6th in Heisman voting 2021, 2021 Doak Walker Award, 2021 Walter Camp POY

Walker transferred from Wake Forest to Michigan State prior to the 2021 season, and rose from a guy lost on the depth chart of an ok ACC program to the featured back on a top 10 team and the best back in this draft class. Walker is an angry runner with really impressive vision when it comes to finding a hole to attack. He is elusive in the open field and is one of the top tackle breakers to come out in recent years. He does enough in the passing game where he will be an effective early down runner in the NFL and could turn into an every down back. Depending on situation, Walker could be among to the top rookies taken in most fantasy football leagues.

Breece Hall, Iowa State, Jr.

Measurements: 6’1, 220

2021 Stats: 12 GP, 253 Att, 1,472 Yds, 20 TD, 36 Rec, 302 Yds, 3 TD, 2 Fum, 2 Lst

Awards & Accomplishments: 2020 & 2021 Big 12 Offensive POY

Prior to Kenneth Walker’s breakout 2021 campaign, Hall was looked at as the consensus top runner in this class. Hall has been the definition of consistent during his time with the Cyclones, amassing 3,044 rushing yards and 46 total touchdowns over his sophomore and junior campaign, following a strong freshmen season. A strong outside runner with ideal size, Hall made plays as a pass catcher over his 3 year career and took good care of the football, with a clear natural instinct to get two hands on the ball every time. Hall will need to improve between the tackles and doesn’t have high end athleticism or speed, but he is a strong pass blocker and has the potential to be an every down back in the NFL.

Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M, Jr.

Measurements: 6’1, 215

2021 Stats: 12 GP, 179 Att, 1,011 Yds, 6 TD, 25 Rec, 189 Yds, 1 TD, 2 Fum

A power back who can catch passes is always going to be valued in the NFL. Not the shiftiest or fastest, Spiller is a powerful runner who was a consistent threat in the SEC the last 2 years. Spiller displays strong vision when hitting holes and as a bigger back, absorbs contact very well. He has the looks of a very good 3 down runner who doesn’t have any glaring issues as a runner, but he will need to work on his ball security at the next level.

James Cook, Georgia, Sr

Measurements: 5’11, 190

2021 Stats: 15 GP, 113 Att, 728 Yds, 7 TD, 27 Rec, 284 Yds, 4 TD

As much as 3 down, up the gut running backs still have their place in the NFL, 3rd down guys who are essentially wide receivers with some running back skill are just as valuable, and that is what Cook can be at the next level. The National Champion showed off his big play ability with a 67 yard run against the Crimson Tide in the title game, and was the perfect compliment as a pass catching back to his counterpart Zamir White in the Georgia backfield. While not quite the talent that his older brother, Vikings star Dalvin Cook, the younger Cook should be able to carve out a role as an upside 3rd down back with potential to provide more in the run game as he develops.

Abram Smith, Baylor, Sr

Measurements: 5’11, 221

2021 Stats: 14 GP, 257 Att, 1,601 Yds, 12 TD, 13 Rec, 75 Yds

If you’re a former linebacker playing running back, there’s a very good chance I am going to like you. Like similar to UNC’s Javonte Williams last year, Smith transitioned from linebacker to running back for Baylor this season and dominated the Big 12. A one-cut runner, Smith will need to continue to develop and learn the position at the next level, but from what he has already shown as a blocker and the power he displays as he runs, he should be able to carve out a 3 down role in the league during his rookie contract.

Honorable Mentions:

Tyler Allgeier, BYU

Zamir White, Georgia

Image: (Al Goldis – AP Photo)

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