Top Five College Running Backs In The 2021 NFL Draft Class

Image for Top Five College Running Backs In The 2021 NFL Draft Class

As I continue my scouting reports for the 2021 draft class, I now move to my top five 2021 running back prospects– as voted by the fans on Twitter. Running backs are normally not taken until round two these days — even according to many sports betting sites — but that does not mean they don’t still have a huge impact on the game. So without further ado, here are my top five college running backs for the 2021 NFL draft.

2021 running back prospects

1. Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State

Height: 6’1 Weight: 207


  • Great at getting through the line of scrimmage.
  • Underrated return game, had over 500 kick return yards in 2018.
  • Is very good in the open field at making defenders miss.


  • Needs to work on his pass blocking. There is a theme to college backs not being able to pass block very well, but it is a vital skill for an NFL running back.
  • Is not a very good pass catcher, and in today’s NFL that is pretty close to a must.
  • Lacks great vision, and sometimes outruns his blockers on sweep and trap plays, making his pulling Guard useless.

2. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

Height: 5’10 Weight: 210


  • Can get to his top speed (which is fast) in three to four steps.
  • Very agile and can make the first defender miss.
  • Great hands out of the backfield, teams will try to get this kid the ball in any way.


  • He is a below average pass blocker.
  • Has had some issues with not being physical enough, sometimes he can be brought down by arm tackles.
  • Poor vision between the tackles, does not tend to find the second option on a play inside if the designed hole was not opened.

3. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Height: 6’2 Weight: 230


  • Hard to bring down one on one, not often at all that the first defender brings him down.
  • Solid pass blocker, not only does he do this well, he makes it look easy.
  • His footwork is special for a guy his size; someone with his height and weight should not be able to move like he does.


  • Struggles while changing directions.
  • Catches a fair amount of passes with his body, he needs to get better at using his hands in the passing game.
  • Lacks top end speed, after he breaks past the line he can be caught from behind by defenders.

ALSO READ: The Top 10 College Football Programs of All Time

4. Kenny Gainwell, RB, Memphis

Height: 5’11 Weight: 183


  • Natural hands, Gainwell is most likely the best pass catcher in this draft class.
  • Can line up in the slot and won’t miss a beat.
  • Runs strong and with low pad level, can turn a loss into a gain.


  • Lack of break away speed. He is very quick and has burst, but his long distance speed could be better.
  • Like many others on this list, his pass protection needs to improve. This may be his weakest area overall.
  • Small sample size. I would like to have seen more of him, however he only has 18 total college games under his belt.

5. Javian Hawkins, RB, Louisville

Height: 5’7 Weight: 196


  • Game changing speed and electrifying quickness to hit a hole and be gone to the end zone.
  • Can make defenders miss in space and will not be caught from behind.
  • Is rarely used in the passing game, but does need to be accounted for when he runs a route.


  • Vision, he sometimes cuts into the defenders… or his own offensive lineman.
  • Strength, if you can catch him he is pretty easy to be brought down.
  • Small sample size like Gainwell, with only 16 college games played.

I hope you enjoyed my draft profiles on running backs, Follow me on Twitter for more great content @Gullett_James

Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!

Check out the OTH Merch right here!

Share this article

I write Detroit Lions and NFL Draft articles for, I also used to write for Follow me on Twitter for poll questions, general conversation, and of course so you won't miss any of my articles.