2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Running Backs

DFX210202027 Oregon v Iowa State

The Falcons are in an interesting spot at running back. Cordarrelle Patterson is back, but Mike Davis is a cut candidate with a tight cap sheet. The Falcons need more at the position. However, they have a lot of needs going into the draft, and a running back is one of the last pieces of the puzzle. This is a solid-looking class, so maybe the Falcons can pick up an extra selection and use it on a position that isn’t considered a premium one in the draft.

As is typical with running backs in the draft — most of them are very good players, and you’re splitting hairs when you rank them. If they’re on this list, they’re a quality option. Previous editions are listed below:



20. Kevin Harris — South Carolina

When I have Kevin Harris starting us off, you know this is a quality group. Harris has had some injury issues, but he showcased that he’s a powerful runner with great vision when he stays healthy. If he can stay on the field in the NFL, he’s going to be a great player that should be available later in the draft.

Relative Athletic Score: 7.04/10


19. Jerrion Ealy — Ole Miss

Ealy is a smaller back, but he is an explosive playmaker with the ball in his hands. I could see him being used in a Tarik Cohen-type role for a team, but even at 5’8”, he delivers some punishing blows when finishing runs. I don’t think he could be an every-down back in the NFL, but he has a lot of raw talent.

Relative Athletic Score: 6.03/10


18. Tyler Badie — Missouri

Badie is one of my sleepers in this class, and he was an impact player for Missouri in 2021. Badie is explosive with excellent balance; he’s a back that can come in from day one, take a few carries and create chunk plays. I’m not sure how he would hold up as an every-down back, but the potential to be one is absolutely there.

Relative Athletic Score: 6.32/10


17. Snoop Conner — Ole Miss

Conner runs with a lot of balance, and he has the body to stand up to NFL defenses as a feature back. He makes impressive cuts at times and has excellent vision — he’s a guy that can give you quality carries from day one.

Relative Athletic Score: 6.97/10


16. Master Teague — Ohio State

Along with Snoop Conner, Master Teague joins the elite of this group, at least in terms of cool names. Teague never really broke out like Ohio State running backs have in the past, but he’s a workhorse who posted excellent combine numbers. There’s value in a guy like that with good patience — especially for teams that want to beef up their running back rotation for a playoff push.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.83/10


15. Jerome Ford — Cincinnati

The Alabama transfer seems to have made the right decision, as he was an impact player in a potent Bearcats offense as a pass catcher and as a runner. He gashed a strong Georgia defense for 12 yards per carry in the 2020 Sugar Bowl, and he found the endzone 19 times in 2021. He hasn’t had too harsh of a workload in college, and he could break out as a true feature three-down back in an NFL offense.

Relative Athletic Score: 6.84/10


14. D’Vonte Price — Florida International

A former track star, Price had a fantastic combine, and he possesses rare athleticism for his size. He’s a very physical runner, and while he’ll have to get used to playing against NFL caliber competition — the tools are all there to become a feature back in the NFL.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.71/10


13. Ty Chandler — North Carolina

Chandler is a shifty back when he gets into open space, and he profiles as a top-notch pass-catcher who can make plays in the open field. Even though he’s a smaller back, I still think Chandler has the potential to stand up as an every-down player.

Relative Athletic Score: 8.81/10


12. Kyren Williams — Notre Dame

While he might be the victim of a bit of prospect fatigue, Kyren Williams is a very well-rounded back who has the chops to make a difference as a pass blocker. Williams is an extremely tough runner who will fight for every inch, which will appeal to a lot of NFL scouts. He didn’t test well, which worries me a bit, but his tape is still solid enough to keep him in my top twelve.

Relative Athletic Score: 4.49/10


11. Zamir White — Georgia

Unfortunately, Zamir White battled multiple torn ACLs before he even got a chance to showcase his stuff at Georgia. You can tell that the burst is there, but it feels like he’s a step slow from the injuries he sustained. Regardless, Zeus is a tough runner and rock-solid in pass protection. If NFL teams want a guy to get the ugly yards — he’s a great choice. If White can start to get some burst back, watch out. His strong combine gives me some hope he can round into a feature back in the NFL.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.03/10


10. Tyler Goodson — Iowa

Tyler Goodson had a fantastic combine, and his tape in a pro-style offense at Iowa is very encouraging for teams that run a more traditional offense. Goodson made some nice plays catching the ball out of the backfield, and he showed some good vision and burst in between the tackles. His athletic potential makes him a very appealing prospect in the later rounds.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.54/10


9. Hassan Haskins — Michigan

Haskins had a fantastic week at the Senior Bowl, and it absolutely bumped him up a few spots on my board. He helped spearhead a potent Michigan rushing attack, and he gave the Wolverines a lot of big carries in short-yardage situations. The former linebacker looks to dish out punishment whenever he can, and there’s a lot of passion behind his carries. He may be limited to early downs in the NFL, but he can give you a lot of thump when he’s on the field.

Relative Athletic Score: N/A


8. Brian Robinson Jr. — Alabama

I like a lot of what Brian Robinson brings to the table; he can break off big chunks of yards and is incredibly strong as a pass blocker. Although he was at Alabama for five years, he doesn’t have a ton of miles on his legs. He’s a guy who could easily become a feature back almost immediately, and he had an excellent combine to back up his tape.

Relative Athletic Score: 8.82/10


7. Dameon Pierce — Florida

I’ve made a few comments about Dameon Pierce, and I think he’s a guy you could see the Falcons target later in the draft. He didn’t get a ton of burn as a Senior at Florida, which was surprising considering that he ran for 5.7 yards per carry and caught passes for 11.4 yards per touch. He’s also excellent in pass protection, and with those fresh legs, don’t be shocked if the Falcons take a swing at him.

Relative Athletic Score: 7.02/10


6. Pierre Strong — South Dakota State

The more I watch Pierre Strong, the more I like about him going into this draft. Strong had a fantastic combine, and he makes a lot of crisp cuts. He can make plays in the passing game, and he can hold his own as a pass blocker. I’m going to have my eye on this kid — the sky is the limit for him.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.36/10


5. Rachaad White — Arizona State

There’s a lot to like about Rachaad White, especially after a strong Senior Bowl and Combine. White is a patient back with good vision, and he can make plays out of the backfield as a receiving option. I expect him to be a solid rotational back that has the potential to be a bell-cow option. He moves really well for a 6’2 back.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.82/10


4. Isaiah Spiller — Texas A&M

When you talk about having a complete skillset, Isaiah Spiller may be the most well-rounded back in the entire class. While he isn’t a burner, he has excellent burst and vision, and the fact that he can catch the ball out of the backfield makes him even more dangerous. If you’re looking for a guy who can start from day one and play all three downs — Isaiah Spiller is the ideal prospect. I would have liked to have seen better testing numbers from Spiller, but he still has the makeup of a good NFL back.

Relative Athletic Score: 5.61/10


3. James Cook — Georgia

While I’m admittedly a little biased towards Cook, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better running back with the ball in his hands after the catch in this class. Not only can Cook make plays in the passing game, he really improved as a runner between the tackles at Georgia in 2021. I don’t think he will reach the level of Alvin Kamara, but they have a similar play style. Cook may be more of a complementary back, but there’s a lot of value in that in today’s NFL.

Relative Athletic Score: 8.72/10


2. Breece Hall — Iowa State

I really liked Hall in the last draft, but he came back to Iowa State and is now one of the most decorated backs in team history. There are a lot of miles on Hall’s legs, but he’s a shifty runner that can move through lanes well. Jonathan Taylor kind of put those “too many miles” arguments to rest in 2021. He’s a great athlete with tons of upside who can give an NFL team quality carries from day one. Hall tested off the charts athletically and really helped out his own draft stock.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.96/10


1. Kenneth Walker III — Michigan State

Some running backs just look different on tape — they hit holes harder, they have incredible burst, and they have exceptional vision. Kenneth Walker is that guy in this draft class. Walker is a very physical back, but he shows a lot of patience and can zip through lanes like a back half of his size. He has all of the makeup to be a featured back in an offense, and if he can develop as a pass catcher, watch out.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.25/10

Photographer: Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire



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