This 2022 NFL Draft running back class is Breece Hall, then everyone else. The guys between fourth and 10th do not have much separation.
Whereas the quarterback has no actual number one, the running backs do. After that, it’s a bit of a grab bag of good talent, but not elite. We could see a few of them become every-down backs, but this class lacks multiple players who can be bell-cow running backs. I could see several teams walking away with multiple running backs in this 2022 NFL Draft.
This is still quite a deep class, and if you get one of the top-10 on your team, you should have high hopes. I would not be surprised if some guys not on my board make some noise at the next level, such as Ty Chandler, Jaylen Warren, Snoop Connor, and Ty Davis-Price.
1. Breece Hall, Iowa State.
Previous rank: 2nd
Hall is easily the best running back in this year’s NFL Draft class. Sadly for him, there might be such a need for EDGE, WR, and QB on cheap deals he might slide into the second. He is one of the most electric running backs we have had come out in quite some time, with limited to no injury history.
He can do anything you ask of him, and his burst is second to none. This will be a player who can play in the league for a very long time, and if he is scooped up in the early to mid-second round, someone got a massive steal.
2. James Cook, UGA.
Previous rank: Unranked.
When I was first scouting him, I was not very high, but then I had to go back and look at the tape. He was splitting time with another good running back, and that Georiga team could pretty much do whatever they wanted on offense or defense.
This will be a solid player for many years to come, and with the split back, he has slight wear and tear on his frame. Great burst, good vision, and good hands. He can be an awesome split-back or a decent number one running back. The best of Cook we have yet to see, same as last year with Michael Carter and JaVonte Williams out of UNC.
3. Kenneth Walker, Michigan State.
Previous rank: 1st
Walker fell just because Breece tested like an animal, and Walker doesn’t have the same utility as Cook. He also got used quite a lot in college, and I am unsure how he will hold up at the next level. He has the ability of an every-down player, but he can’t catch exceptionally well.
Though on his pro-day showed the knowledge, which makes you wonder if that was the case, why did Michigan State not use him that way? There is still a lot to like from walker, but you have one elite year and one mediocre year, with some strong wear and tear from his final season. Three years from now, Walker could easily be better than Cook, but his lack of utility had him placed under Cook on this big board.
4. Jerome Ford, Cincinnati.
Previous rank: 7th
I am a big Ford fan; his transfer from Alabama did him great success. I think he plays even faster than his 4.46, which is already moving for a guy at 220lbs. He is also in the same boat as Walker, where he leaves much to be desired in the pass-catching game.
Ford has some good blocking to his game and runs very fluidly. Ford will be a solid two-down back at the next level, but he needs to be in a more traditional system to be successful. He has ideal size and speed, but his lack of pass-catching limits his full use. Though, he could be the most rigid runner in this NFL Draft class.
5. Kyren Williams, Notre Dame.
Previous rank: 3rd
Flat out, his testing was abysmal vs. what we saw on tape. He showed better hands in his pro-day but did not do much in the agility drills to show us what he did at the combine was a fluke. At that size and speed, it does not set him up for success at the next level.
His tape shows a good mix of everything, but that team also had an excellent offensive line with a great coach to put him in the right spots. I think he will still be good at the next level, but I have tempered my expectations of what he can do; his limited athletic ability and arm length will be a liability in pass-protection vs. defensive ends.
6. Zamir White, UGA.
Previous rank: Unranked.
Both he and Cook were in the same situation when I did my original big board. I did not look at them hard enough as they were a split set. White is a liability in the passing game, but his size and length give him an edge in blocking. A 4.4 at 215 for a running back is quick.
He’s one cut-and-go runner who won’t be doing much dancing. Runs with angry, raw power but has limited upside as far as utility goes. White is most likely best suited for a team with a rotational back set, using him as the lead or change of pace back. Should he get better out of the backfield, he could expand his game.
There is a lot to like here, but the same with Cook. If he had that next-level elite ability, you would have expected him to consistently take over a much more significant role. Should he fall into the fourth round of the NFL Draft, you are getting a day one running back who can come in and play, but that offensive line helped him during his time in Georgia.
7. Isiah Spiller, TAMU.
Previous rank: 4th
While he did not run or do agility drills at the combine, he did at his pro-day. His results were abysmal. Spiller did not help his case much; while he was productive and his tape shows that of a solid NFL running back, he tested so bad; I heard that some teams wouldn’t draft him in general, which is not a good sign this close to the NFL Draft.
He is much more of a primary running back than out of the backfield, end-around, and is ok at pass blocking. He would have stayed in the top-five if he had better running at the pro-day. We are also talking about a running back that happened to run behind one of the better offensive lines in college, which may have slightly adjusted how good he looked on tape.
8. Tyler Badie, Mizzou.
Previous rank: 10th
Badie might be small, but his running style is not. Last year, we saw that he could do anything with the ball in his hands. More of a skat-back type of running back than an every-down player. He should immediately impact 3rd-downplays and pass-catching situations for a running back.
While he is a liability in the blocking game, he is exceptionally dynamic when he gets into space. Based on where he should go in this draft, he will be an excellent value to come in for 10-15 snaps a game.
9. Brian Robinson, Alabama.
Previous rank: Unranked
Though Robinson did not play a lot during his career at Alabama, it’s hard to blame him for the talent there; he did play for five seasons. So he comes in a little older than most of the other prospects, but last year showed he could be a legit player.
It’s hard to value a one-year wonder running back, but his size makes him great for the short-yardage and pass protection. I wouldn’t expect him to be a three-down back, as he doesn’t have that second gear. But, he can be used as an AJ Dillion-type player and be helpful in multiple ways for a team. We could also be wrong, and last year was scratching the surface of what Robinson could do, and he could break out similar to a James Robinson.
10. Tyler Allgeier, BYU.
Previous rank: Unranked
One thing we know Tyler Allgeier can do well is to rack up yards he had just shy of 3,000 yards rushing in the last two seasons. He has a rugged running style and can be used in multiple ways; with his measurables, I don’t see him being a pass-blocking liability; when he had Zach Wilson, he was used to running all over the field and picking up blocks.
I think there are some knocks here vs. competition; yes, he put up eye-popping numbers, but he wasn’t going out there against elite defenses. Allgeier could be a steal here late in the draft or be what we expected. He did good vs. lesser competition, but he is a rotational backup and a goal-line carry player at the next level.