Football

2022 NFL Draft: Running Back Guide, Part 1

|
Image for 2022 NFL Draft: Running Back Guide, Part 1

This is the first part of my running backs guide ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Tyler Allgeier

BYU Cougars, Redshirt sophomore, 5’11, 220 lbs

SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA – DECEMBER 18: Tyler Allgeier #25 of the BYU Cougars runs the ball during the first half of a game against the UAB Blazers at the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Tyler Allgeier can be a three-down back and is ready to deliver from the very start of his NFL career.

  • 276 rushes, 1601 yards (5.8 average), 23 TD, 28 receptions, 199 catch yards
  • Former walk-on and played linebacker in 2019 (19 solo tackles, 1 forced fumble) – zero-star recruit
  • QB was Jaren Hall, used to playing in RPO offense
  • Patient, good vision, looks uphill and waits for gaps to develop – gets behind blockers well
  • Quick feet, fast adjustments, good lateral movement.
  • Falls forwards, gains yards consistently, follows his pads
  • Has awareness when running free but lacks elite top-end speed despite short to intermediate burst being exceptional. Very quick vertical movement when gaps develop
  • Tough runner – gains yards after tackle consistently – Bounces off tackles, elusive, slips through DL and LB into secondary
  • Sells RPO plays excellently, fooled Utah completely on one snap
  • Watch this play! Arizona State INT recovery – QB throws a pick in the 3rd Quarter, BYU are up 21-17 at this point, DK Metcalf-esque, our man gets up, sheds a blocker 6’5 DL-man 305lbs Tautala Pesefea, sprints after the ball carrier linebacker Merlin Robertson, Tomahawk chops the ball free and the ball is recovered by the QB Hall on about the 12-yard line of BYU!

Potential Red Flags:

  • Okay in pass protection
  • Can fumble on receiving plays
  • Passing routes are limited, screens, check downs, but can be a useful outlet man.
  • His patient approach to await gaps developing can be blown up in the backfield
  • Does not possess elite top speed, can be caught when running freely.
  • Heavy workload at BYU last year.

James Cook

Georgia Bulldogs, Senior, 5’11, 190 lbs.

ATHENS, GA – SEPTEMBER 18: Georgia Bulldogs running back James Cook (4) with a TD run in the first quarter of the NCAA football game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and Georgia Bulldogs on September 18, 2021 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, GA. (Photo by John Adams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Has the potential to be annoyingly good for his future NFL employer and can be a WR if his RB career fails. Moreover, Georgia has a good RB pedigree – Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, Todd Gurley, D’Andre Swift.

Senior year – 113 rush, 728 yards (6.44 ave), 7 TD, 27 receptions, 284 yards 4 receiving TDS.

  • Receiving threat, will be good for a fantasy team (potentially very good as he has potential to take the top off a defence), good hands
  • Decent top-end speed, cuts well laterally to find open space – watch his 67 yard rush vs Alabama in the National Championship game in the third quarter, gets to the ‘Bama 14.
  • Reasonable stiff arm
  • Quick turn of pace, side to side speed changes are excellent. Makes defenders miss on both pass and run plays
  • Demonstrates patience and vision, awaiting gaps
  • Can get through a line very quickly, excellent acceleration and is elusive, can bounce off tackles, looks small on tape, effortlessly changes direction
  • Would work well in a motion system as there are lots of different looks/handoffs in the Georgia system.
  • Family pedigree – he is Dalvin Cook’s younger brother
  • Limited college work, leaves plenty of appetite for work at the NFL level.

Potential Red Flags:

  • Does not often look to get involved in pass protection and is limited when he does. Tendency to throw himself on the floor in front of rushers.
  • Limited penetration through the offensive line without gaps. Defenders can overpower Cook.
  • Will need to demonstrate himself in pro days/combine

Breece Hall

Iowa State Cyclones, Junior, 6’1, 220 lbs

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 18: Running back Breece Hall #28 of the Iowa State Cyclones runs against the UNLV Rebels during the first half of a game at Allegiant Stadium on September 18, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

Next up, potentially the best all-around RB in the draft – Breece Hall.

  • Only a junior but a “Draft him, start him” one. Also, a three-down back, good running and receiving abilities. Solid blocker and a true workhorse.
  • Only played 36 games total, 718 rush, 3941 yards (5.5 avg), 20 TD, 82 receptions, 734 receiving yards, 6 TD.
  • Good size, more of a power back.
  • Has a nasty chip block.
  • Tricky play vs Texas, was almost tackled in backfield, slipped it, great awareness as he looked to recover yards, worked with the blocks he had available to him, eventually lost two yards on the play but could have been a lot worse.
  • Nice pass protection even when giving up size to linemen, bought Brock Purdy some good time on rushing plays. Good awareness of where the rush was coming from.
  • Kept the ball secure when being hit hard.
  • Nice speed and acceleration when breaking through vertically. Has beautiful agility, especially when just about to be tackled, he quickly changes direction.
  • Touchdown vs Texas, was tossed the ball on screen around the 52 yard-line, ran vertically well, duked nicely to beat the linebacker crossing first-down yardage, then a diagonal change of direction at the 25, angled run to prevent being tackled and scored just inside the pylon in the third quarter. This was his 21st straight game with a rushing TD! He was the Big 12’s leading rusher at that point and an All-American.
  • This guy can catch, bursts well, was highly used on the Iowa State offence (42%).
  • He’s got a nice little spin move, love to see it!
  • Can take a direct snap too, depending on running QB options, this is an exciting opportunity for trick plays.

Potential Red Flags:

  • Stamina or maintaining top-end speed
  • Tendency to go outside may be hindered by stronger NFL defenders on the edge.

Dameon Pierce

Florida Gators, Senior, 5’9, 220 lbs

GAINESVILLE, FL – NOVEMBER 27: Florida Gators running back Dameon Pierce (27) celebrates a touchdown run during the game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Florida Gators on November 27, 2021 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
  • Dameon Pierce is an okay Day-Three selection as a depth piece, has some raw abilities but lacks elite explosiveness.
  • Nice pass protection capabilities for a smaller guy, leads blocks but does not always sustain these for long enough. Furthermore, he deals well with incoming rushers when set in his stance even when giving up size.
  • Quickly gets into receiving position on pass plays – took a number of quick pitches.
  • Good burst, really quick foot movement and adjustments. Rides tackles, absorbs hits and continues momentum (even against the top-ranked Georgia defence where he had nine attempts for 69 yards)
  • Quick especially when running in open field.
  • Good vision for gaps
  • Fights for yardage – legs pumping, determined to keep going.
  • Can catch; pass over the middle vs Vanderbilt, eventually going home for a TD, is a good example. Good route tree. Took a swing pass during the 2020 Cotton Bowl, utilized blocks well to gain 25 yards.
  • Clearly determined; he lost his helmet 5 yards out in a big rival game vs Florida State – did not care… dived through the middle between three defenders for a touchdown (fourth quarter, to take a 23-7 lead at the time)
  • Impressive Senior Bowl performance; runs through people, gains first downs in difficult field positions
  • Can run sideways without getting vertical. Looks to get outside first.

Potential Red Flags:

  • Lacks the elite explosiveness demonstrated by stronger candidates in this class.
  • Limited when trying to beat bigger opponents.
  • Was not a first-choice back at Florida, had to wait for his opportunities.
  • Limited but works well with what he has.

A fair assessment would be to consider him a late-round selection – could be a depth piece within a team’s RB room. What could be an advantage on the professional stage could be the tendency for him to run into traffic as he lowers his head.

Brian Robinson Jr

Alabama Crimson Tide, Redshirt Senior, 6’1, 226 lbs

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 18: Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide hands the ball off to Brian Robinson Jr. #4 during the second quarter of a game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 18, 2021 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

From the tape, it seems like Brian Robinson Jr had a really difficult game against Texas A&M:

  • He did not many get chances at Alabama as he was behind Najee Harris in the depth chart prior to the 2021 season.
  • Power back type.
  • Liability in pass protection.
  • Stands around in pass protection rather than engage with someone; lacks understanding.
  • Had a disaster vs Texas A&M in 1st quarter, on a first-down play he showed some nice sideways cuts, uses a juke motion effectively to gain 9 yards.
  • On a second down in pass protection, he was facing incoming edge rusher Michael Clemons (270). Robinson was turned around and ended up facing inwards which left quarterback Bryce Young running for his life and isolated.
  • 3rd and 1, fumbled the ball – turned over by the Aggies.
  • Did set up a red-zone opportunity later in the game, could not get the TD with two rush attempts, then QB attempted a pass which was intercepted.
  • Overpowered on a linebacker blitz during the second quarter for a sack. Then nearly dropped a pass after juggling it three times on a screen.
  • Limited explosiveness to get through the first lines of defense. Limited overall athleticism.
  • Vision is inconsistent, doesn’t always seem to know where he is on the field or what he should be doing.
  • Does not really gain yardage consistently, production is a mixed bag.
  • Runs into traffic.
  • Does not secure the ball, lost it vs Miami at the end of a good rush for 15 yards.

Thanks for reading my article on running backs, follow me on Twitter @kettsuk, follow @OT_Heroics, follow @OTH_Football. Part 2 Coming Up soon!

main image credit

Embed from Getty Images

Share this article