2021 NFL DRAFT RUNNING BACK RANKINGS

NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS BY POSITION

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*Player Profiles to be added for each prospect between now and the 2021 NFL Draft

1

TRAVIS ETIENNE, CLEMSON

OVERALL RANK: 20

​TRAVIS ETIENNE NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Game breaking potential, lethal quickness, Etienne is our consensus top back.

  • He is the most explosive and complete back in the class with prototypical size and rushing abilities.

  • Has to show improved vision and patience at the next level to thrive and sometimes appears over eager to hit the hole, but Etienne has all the raw talent to mature into a prolific, multi faceted back within the NFL.

  • Etienne is a true weapon in the passing game and a home run threat in this area due to his fantastic balance against would-be tacklers in the open field. His initial burst and quickness is just far superior to many of the other backs in this class and should be a first round pick despite the diminished reputation of running backs in the NFL draft.

2

JAVONTE WILLIAMS, NORTH CAROLINA

OVERALL RANK: 36

JAVONTE WILLIAMS NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Williams is an ideally sized, powerful and violent runner.

  • Has an explosion and balance that allows him to burst through tackles with ease and is rarely brought down at first contact. These traits will translate to the NFL thanks to his frame, which screams "NFL power back".

  • He is more than just a power back though as he demonstrates a rare elusiveness and speed both in the box and in the open field for a man of his size.

  • May not have the same long speed as Etienne, but Williams is more of a chain mover.

  • He is also no slouch in the passing game, catching 25 balls for 305 yards and three touchdowns in 2020.

  • There is simply not much to dislike about Williams' game and probably has a higher floor than any other back in this class, without the soaring ceiling of Etienne or Gainwell.

3

KENNETH GAINWELL, MEMPHIS

OVERALL RANK: 43

​KENNETH GAINWELL NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Gainwell is another game breaking back. He may not possess the prototypical frame or weight of a three down back in the NFL, but he does have elite agility and a tendency to run hard, meaning that he plays bigger than his size and is tougher to bring down than what you would expect.

  • He has good, but not great speed.

  • Probably the best receiving back in the draft and has advanced route running ability and excellent hands. He is able to get open easily in the passing game and create yards after the catch thanks to his elusiveness and improvisational skills with the ball in his hands.

  • Could stand to add some bulk to withstand the rigours of the NFL but as mentioned, but plays with more power than he appears to possess.

  • May not be an instant starter, but could develop into a featured back over time as he adjusts to a more complex scheme and fills out his frame.

  • Overall, he oozes potential despite being slightly undersized and can take it to the house at any given moment. Gainwell is an exceptional weapon in the passing game and will be able to affect games at all three levels of offense with his ability in space and propensity to create yards after the catch.

  • An NFL team with a creative coordinator will relish the opportunity to manufacture touches for the explosive back. First round talent, third round size. Expect him to be picked somewhere in between.

4

NAJEE HARRIS, ALABAMA

OVERALL RANK: 51

NAJEE HARRIS NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Harris is a bruising three-down back who has an upright running style reminiscent of the battering ram that is Derrick Henry.

  • Harris does not have elite speed, burst or quickness, but is tough to bring down when he is afforded time and space to build momentum and should be able to carve out a successful career within the NFL.

  • Having said that, some of his moves (hurdles) will not translate and he sometimes appears to be running through quicksand. He simply does not have a very impressive top speed.

  • His upright running style may also not translate to the NFL very well as defenders will be able to take advantage of his high centre of gravity.

  • Does not always run to his size, looking hesistant between the tackles. You simply would expect more violence and explosion from a back of his size.

  • Has also always ran behind an elite line too, meaning that he is usually hitting clean holes.

  • Receiving ability is very impressive for a back his size and will be the reason why he is still selected high. Harris feels like a bit of a luxury back with great size, but who does not have any elite traits that warrant a first or second round pick. He is solid in all areas though, meaning that he certainly deserves a shot to be a featured runner. 

5

RHAMONDRE STEVENSON, OKLAHOMA

OVERALL RANK: 64

RHAMONDRE STEVENSON NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Thickly built back with surprising agility and quickness.

  • Runs with an excellent centre of gravity, quick feet and uses his momentum well in the open field to avoid and break would-be tackles.

  • Has the frame that should be effective in short yardage situations, but can also bounce his runs outside effectively.

  • May not have the game breaking speed of some of those above him in this class, but he makes up for this thanks to his change of direction skills and bulldozing ability in the open field.

  • Has a legitimate shot to be an NFL starter as he also had 18 receptions for 211 yards in his senior year. Modest production, but production that hints at his potential to become an all-purpose back.

6

TREY SERMON, OHIO ST

OVERALL RANK: 88

TREY SERMON NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Nice build, another tall runner like Harris but Sermon has exceptional contact balance.

  • Rarely brought down by the first tackler when faced with a 50/50 duel.

  • Sermon is not fast, but has decent long speed and excellent initial burst.

  • Has an ability to make people miss in the open field due to his quick change of direction ability.

  • Not utilised much in the passing game, but is serviceable in this area and if he develops this part of his game then he could become a three-down back. 

7

RAKEEM BOYD, ARKANSAS

OVERALL RANK: 96

​RAKEEM BOYD NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • One of the best options in the draft if a team needs a third down back.

  • A frame that could add some more bulk and will need to do so if he is to contribute on first and second down.

  • Can operate in between the tackles though and keeps his legs churning through the play despite having a skinny lower half.

  • Has the ability to bounce it outside too, showing nice burst and vision when he does get loose, alongside an excellent receiving prowess.

  • When catching the ball, Boyd shows flashes of athleticism to make tacklers miss and great contact balance against initial hits.

  • Does not have much tread on his tires due to sharing the load in college and so could develop into a gem for whoever takes him on day 3.

8

KYLIN HILL, MISSISSIPPI ST

OVERALL RANK: 97

​KYLIN HILL NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Change of direction good. Plants his foot and sells out defenders.

  • Good pass catcher.

  • Decent burst and can break tackles with olid long speed.

  • He is not a very patient runner though and relies on his explosive traits to make plays. This sometimes means that he is not much of a factor running North-South and looks to bounce it outside too often.

  • Is a willing blocker though and could be a useful third down back in the league. 

9

CHRIS EVANS, MICHIGAN

OVERALL RANK: 104

​CHRIS EVANS NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • An underwhelming collegiate career for Evans where he was underutilised could actually be for the best over the long term for the explosive runner.

  • Evans has the build of a three-down back and is a capable receiver out of the backfield.

  • He will be appealing due to not having too much tread on his tires, despite a physical running style.

  • He has more initial burst and acceleration than he is given credit for and can run through arm tacklers and crowded spaces.

  • is a fluid mover and possesses decent power in short spaces and operates as a capable blocker. Could be a hidden gem in the mid rounds.

10

C.J. MARABLE, COASTAL CAROLINA

OVERALL RANK: 111

​C.J. MARABLE NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Can make defenders miss in space, has good initial speed and burst but limited long speed.

  • Picks up tough yards and can catch the ball! Seems to read the game well and has good vision.

  • Plays stronger than he looks. Could be an under the radar guy as he just feels like more of a potential difference maker than some of the guys who teh consensus have higher on their boards.

  • Has a better size/power/wiggle/burst complete combination than the likes of Patterson and Carter.

11

MICHAEL CARTER, NORTH CAROLINA

OVERALL RANK: 114

​MICHAEL CARTER NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Small back, not a three down option at the next level as he won't be able to run through contact or break tackles in the NFL.

  • Does not look to have breakaway speed, average burst.

  • Carter is a smooth mover though. He has quick feet and has excellent agility that allows him to make defenders miss in space.

  • Pass catcher and will have value in the return game.

12

CHUBA HUBBARD, OKLAHOMA ST

OVERALL RANK: 134

CHUBA HUBBARD NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Hubbard is an excellent runner with great patience and vision.

  • Does need space though and is not a runner who operates particularly well between the tackles.

  • He will have less space at the next level, but will be a threat to break off a big play thanks to his decisiveness to make his cut, searing pace and burst that is on par with many of the backs ranked above him.

  • The great knock on Hubbard though is in the passing game. He isn't relied on as a pass catching back and is not the best blocker either.

  • The other worry about Hubbard is that he has progressively become less efficient between 2018-2020. This could be due to an excessive number of carries, and it is concerning that he has struggled with niggling injuries more recently.

  • If he can get it all together though he could carve out a role as an exciting change of pace back in the NFL thanks to his ability to cut on a dime and become a home run threat in space. 

13

DEMETRIC FELTON, UCLA

OVERALL RANK: 143

​DEMETRIC FELTON NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Looks more like a receiver playing running back.

  • Nice suddenness and change of direction, Felton is a player who you want to get the ball to in space as he is shifty.

  • Can't see him as a starting RB in the league as there isn't enough evidence of him being successful running between the tackles. His size would probably hint at this anyway.

  • Projects as an excellent pass catching back or slot receiver.

14

JARET PATTERSON, BUFFALO

OVERALL RANK: 152

​JARET PATTERSON NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Another back on the small side and hype is seeing him rise, but I do not see any outstanding traits in him.

  • Average wiggle with no real moves in the open field. Average burst/acceleration. Average speed.

  • Runs into too many tackles and isn't a threat to break them due to his size. It is a shame because I was hoping to see more after his record breaking day piqued the interest of the nation. Patterson rushed for 409 yards and eight total touchdowns against Kent State.

15

JERMAR JEFFERSON, OREGON ST

OVERALL RANK: 176

​JERMAR JEFFERSON NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Not great size, but has good long speed when he gets to the second level.

  • Dangerous pass catcher in open field and will be a matchup problem vs linebackers.

  • Change of pace back, decent option in the later rounds.

16

ELIJAH MITCHELL, LOUISIANA

OVERALL RANK: 179

​ELIJAH MITCHELL NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE

  • Brought down by the first tackler exteremely often. Whether that is bad blocking from his line or poor vision from himself is sometimes hard to tell, but it is a noticeable issue when watching him on film.

  • Appears to need big holes to run through in order to make an impact.

  • Is a a decent North-South runner if he is allowed to build up a head of steam.

  • Still too easily taken down in the open field though and has a lack of a second gear or explosion so he can be caught quite easily. Is not slippery in between the tackles and does not show true change of direction skills or wiggle. 

17

KHALIL HERBERT, VIRGINIA TECH

OVERALL RANK: 189

  • COMING SOON...

18

JAVIAN HAWKINS, LOUISVILLE

OVERALL RANK: N/A

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19

TREY RAGAS, LOUISIANA

OVERALL RANK: N/A

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20

POOKA WILLIAMS, KANSAS

OVERALL RANK: N/A

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21

LARRY ROUNTREE III, MISSOURI

OVERALL RANK: N/A

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22

GREG MCCRAE, UCF

OVERALL RANK: N/A

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23

MEKHI SARGENT, IOWA

OVERALL RANK: N/A

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