Falcons: Atlanta has interviewed Memphis running back Kenneth Gainwell

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Kenny Gainwell is a name that I’ve brought up a few times in mock drafts and prospect profiles because I truly think he’ll be a gem coming out of this draft. The Falcons may feel the same way.

When I ranked the non-Najee Harris & Travis Etienne running backs in the 2021 NFL Draft, Gainwell landed at second — right behind my draft crush Javonte Williams.

It seems like Kenny Gainwell is finally starting to catch on nationally, and for a good reason. I have had him in a few mocks before, and if you haven’t heard of him, it’s because he had to sit out the 2020 season because he tragically lost multiple family members to COVID. Gainwell can really do it all; he’s athletic, has great vision, can block, catch, and has fantastic size for the position. He’s pretty raw, but in the one season he played at Memphis, you can’t ignore his 6.3 YPC and 2,069 yards from scrimmage.

Condolences to Kenneth and his family, first and foremost. I respect his decision to sit out. In my mind, if he hadn’t sat out, the former Memphis Tiger could’ve improved his draft stock into the early second-round. For now, I think he lands somewhere in the middle of day two, and I’d be shocked if he fell to day three.

Gainwell is a lot more physical between the tackles than his 5’11”, 190-pound frame would indicate. Additionally, scouts are optimistic he can be used as a slot weapon and out of the backfield in the passing game. The only real doubts, for now, is his small sample size and his frame potentially limiting his ability as a bell-cow running back.

I think it depends on what Atlanta does in free agency; if they pick up a guy like Philip Lindsey, Leonard Fournette, Le’Veon Bell, or Mike Davis — you can ease Gainwell into the game utilizing his natural gifts as a third-down back. As he learns and puts on muscle, I truly think he can be an every-down back. I expect Atlanta to do their homework with running backs, but Gainwell would be a fantastic selection no matter what they do in free agency.

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