We’re back! The BTSC Big Board crew has returned for a second consecutive season! Between now and April, numerous BTSC draft analysts will give you stats, grades, and in-depth scouting reports for over 300 prospects in this year’s class. Just like last year, we will be doing these rankings by position until the week of the draft, when we finalize the overall rankings and release our all-positions-combined big board.
We do, however, have a couple changes this year. The first change is that we have several new analysts joining in this year. I, Andrew Wilbar, along with Ryland B., NecksNation, Itz JustNoah, and SNW are all back once again, and this year, we are pleased to be joined by site member skyfire322, BTSC podcast personality Jeremy Betz, and BTSC film expert and resident coach K.T. Smith.
The second change is that there is no consensus ranking this year. For those of you who checked out our 2021 big board, you might recall that we had a consensus ranking for each prospect, compiling rankings from top draft sites and finding the average draft raking for each prospect. With several of the sites not ranking many of the players we ranked, we decided to leave that out this year and simply have my overall ranking listed instead.
The other change comes in the way of how the big board is presented to you. Besides minor font and formatting changes, we will also be giving you a second article complementary to the big board for each position. If you checked out the board last year, you may remember that we had a section at the bottom of each article where we would give our takes on whether the Steelers should draft a player at that position or not. This year, we will still be sharing our opinions, but it will be in an entirely separate article. So keep an eye out for a second article after a position of the big board is released!
The analysis is a collaborative effort of Ryland, myself, K.T. Smith, Jeremy Betz, skyfire322, Itz JustNoah, and NecksNation, while the stats are compiled by SNW via Sports Reference.
If you have any thoughts on these running back prospects and their potential fit with the Steelers, be sure to share them in the comment section below.
Let’s get to the Big Board!
1. Kenneth Walker III / Michigan State / 5’-10”, 210 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 39
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 264, Yds 1646, Ave 6.2, TD 18, Rec 13, Yds 89, Ave 6.8, TD 1
Andrew Wilbar: Walker came out of nowhere in 2021. One of the many transfers at Michigan State, Walker was expected to be part of a committee deployed by the Spartan coaching staff, but after rushing for 264 yards and 4 touchdowns in the season opener against Northwestern, it was clear that Walker would be their bell cow moving forward. Now, after registering 1,646 rushing yards, a 6.2 yards per carry average, and 18 rushing touchdowns, he is in the running to become the first running back off the board this April. Walker runs with a low center of gravity and good power. Not only does he hit the hole hard, but his impressive footwork allows him to stop on a dime and redirect himself coming out of an open hole. Walker does not have the greatest speed and will probably not test well enough to move into the first round, but a team in need of an early-down back will find themselves a gem on day two.
2. Isaiah Spiller / Texas A&M / 6’-1”, 215 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 49
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 179, Yds 1011, Ave 5.6, TD 6, Rec 25, Yds 189, Ave 25, TD 1
Ryland B.: Spiller is a productive SEC back with good production and athleticism. What’s not to like? He’s a tough runner with top-notch acceleration and decent long speed for his size. What stands out with Spiller is his excellent vision. He’s very smart and efficient in his cuts, being difficult to bring down behind the line of scrimmage and running with excellent angles in the open field. While not particularly shifty in the traditional sense, he is surprisingly hard to bring down due to his power, vision, and ability to change direction without losing much speed. As a pass-catcher, Spiller hasn’t seen a ton of action, but he has good hands and is a solid route-runner. He has enough tools to be a versatile weapon in most offenses. Easily one of the best running backs in the class, Spiller should be a good pick in the late first or early second round for a running back needy team.
3. Kyren Williams / Notre Dame / Height 5’-9”, 195 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 53
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 204, Yds 995, Ave 4.9, TD 14, Rec 42, Yds 359, Ave 8.5, TD 3.
NecksNation: Williams may be undersized, but he plays above his frame. The 21 year old displayed impressive versatility at Notre Dame, which should translate well to the NFL. However, his lack of size may preclude him from being a traditional “feature back” at the next level, which could hurt his draft stock. Williams experienced a slight regression from his sophomore to junior year, but he saw a slight uptick in his receiving production. He should prove to be a valuable asset in the passing game, between his receiving skills and his stellar pass protection. He was clocked at a 4.44 40 yard dash, and although that number should change shortly, he’s quite athletic and has impressive strength. I noticed that he had a bit of a tendency to get tripped up, but for the most part he was solid when it came to breaking tackles. Williams may not be an every down star back in the NFL, but he should be a solid all around contributor for whatever team drafts him.
4. Breece Hall / Iowa State / 6’-1”, 220 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 54
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 253, Yds 1472, Ave 5.8, TD 20, Rec 36, Yds 302, Ave 8.4, TD 3.
Itz JustNoah: After 1,700 total yards and 20+ touchdowns in 2020, Breece Hall was widely regarded as the best running back in the 2022 draft cycle. Hall quietly had another 1,700 yard and 20 touchdown season in 2021 and could very easily be the first running back taken on draft night. He has incredible vision, patience and his burst when he finds the hole is phenomenal. His ability to break tackles both in short yardage situations and in the open field make him very versatile and reminds me a lot of Le’Veon Bell a few years ago. He isn’t quite the receiver that Bell was, but just get the ball in his hands and there is home run potential on every play. Hall is the complete package as a runner, but he isn’t a great blocker and sometimes will sort of give up on the play when he could be looking to block for his quarterback. If he can just clean that up, he could be an all-pro level running back in no time.
5. Jerome Ford / Cincinnati / 5’-11”, 215 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 60
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 215, Yds 1315, Ave 6.1, TD 19, Rec 21, Yds 220, Ave 10.5, TD 1.
Andrew Wilbar: Ford reminds me in many ways of Javonte Williams last year. He hits the hole with great quickness, and his blend of speed and power give him high upside as a workhorse back in the NFL. What I also like about Ford is his leg drive. He has outstanding lower body strength, and he keeps those legs churning after contact, trying to get every possible yard out of each carry and occasionally carrying defenders with him. My biggest knock on him is in pass protection. He doesn’t have great awareness as a pass protector, and there are times when I watch him on tape and feel as if he didn’t give his best effort. Another issue, albeit a teachable issue, is that he can be too patient running routes out of the backfield. While he has the hands to be an efficient receiver out of the backfield, there were several instances on tape where Desmond Ridder wanted to dump the ball off to Ford only for Ford not to have turned around yet and not be ready for the ball. In the end, I think Ford overcomes these issues and develops into a nice NFL running back.
6. James Cook / RB / Georgia / 5’-11”, 190 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 78
2021 stats: GP 14, Att 107, Yds 651, Ave 6.1, TD 7, Rec 25, Yds 269, Ave 10.8, TD 4.
Andrew Wilbar: Cook has not been the workhorse back for Georgia, but from the outside looking in, it seems as if he was underused during his time at Georgia. Perhaps it is due to not being a great pass protector at this point. Whatever the case may be, Cook never remained Georgia’s bell cow running back for any length of time. The brother of Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, James is an explosive runner who plays bigger than his size may indicate. He is listed at only 190 pounds, but he runs hard and with a purpose. Receiving skills are superb. Catching the ball comes natural to Cook, and he can run a route out of the backfield, in the slot, or on the outside. Put him wherever you want, and he can produce in a receiver’s role. In my opinion, he is not a very good pass protector at this point, and his development in that area will likely determine whether he can be a three-down back in the NFL. Nonetheless, there is a ton of upside with Cook in the middle rounds.
7. Zach Charbonnet / UCLA /’6-1”, 220 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 83
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 202, Yds 1137, Ave 5.6, TD 13, Rec 24, Yds 197, Ave 8.2, TD 0.
Andrew Wilbar: Charbonnet is a Michigan transfer who was used on an incredibly inconsistent basis. There were games that he would be the lead back and carry the rock 20 times in a game, and there would be other times where he never seemed to get more than a carry here and there. Perhaps that was part of the reason why Charbonnet decided to transfer to UCLA, where he enjoyed a breakout junior season, rushing for over 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and was expected by many to be the best Michigan running back since Mike Hart. Although that did not happen, Charbonnet still displayed an intriguing skill set that was put on a larger display at UCLA. He has the speed to break off any run to the house, but he also has the size and power to be useful in short-yardage situations. He had a slight uptick in usage as a receiver this season, but catching the ball out of the backfield has never been a highlight of his game. Whether that is due to inability or just a lack of usage is unknown, but overall, Charbonnet has a profile that should transition to the NFL nicely.
8. Keaontay Ingram / USC / 6’-0”, 215 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 103
2021 Stats: GP 10, Att 156, Yds 911, Ave 5.8, TD 5, Rec 22, Yds 154, Ave 7.0, TD 0.
Andrew Wilbar: If there is a mid-round running back in this draft that could emerge as the best back from this class, it’s Ingram. Ingram could have entered the 2021 NFL Draft but decided to transfer to USC for his fifth-year senior season. From an athletic standpoint, people will fall in love with this guy. There is a good chance he runs a sub 4.4 in the 40 at the combine, but he is so much more than just a speed back. Listed at 215 pounds, Ingram runs with purpose and power, and I think he will add more weight in the NFL and become a true bruiser at the running back position. He also has good patience as a runner, allowing a hole to open up before he makes his move. Ball security was a bit of an issue during his time at Texas, but he seemed to sure that issue up, only fumbling once during the 2021 season. The only other concern most people have is that Ingram was never extremely involved as a pass-catcher. Part of that could be because he was not always a full-time back at Texas, but he never eclipsed 250 receiving yards in a single season in college. Personally, I believe that this past season’s receiving numbers are due to USC’s offensive line. Their line struggled mightily in pass protection for a good chunk of the year, and Ingram was often forced to stay in the backfield and help protect the quarterback rather than running routes and getting receiving opportunities. If he can display upside as a receiver at the combine, this guy could shoot up draft boards in a hurry.
9. Brian Robinson, Jr. / Alabama / 6’-1”, 228 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 111
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 248, Yds 1268, Ave 5.1, TD 14, Rec 32, Yds 268, Ave 8.4, TD 2.
Andrew Wilbar: Robinson could be the next great NFL running back out of Alabama, who seemingly develops NFL-caliber running backs year in and year out. Speed and instincts are becoming more vitally important by the year in the NFL, and Robinson displayed both of those qualities when healthy last season. For a running back Robinson’s size, he does a great job slipping defenders in the open field. He has impressive contact balance, good hands as a receiver, and great awareness in pass protection. He does run a little high at times, but that is nothing new with Alabama running backs. That was an issue for Najee Harris coming out (it still is), and it was an issue for Derrick Henry as well. However, when you are good enough in every other facet of the game, an issue such as that can be overlooked. Robinson has all the tools to become a great NFL running back, but consistency and durability will be the two big questions for him to answer between now and the draft.
10. Tyler Allgeier / BYU / 5’-11”, 220 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 128
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 276, Yds 1606, Ave 5.8, TD 23, Rec 28, Yds 199, Ave 7.1, TD 0.
NecksNation: Allgeier’s combination of bulk and athleticism immediately stands out, which provides him with a high ceiling in the NFL. He supposedly ran a 4.4 40 yard dash, and although he doesn’t seem to play with that same speed, he is quite explosive when he gets going. He had an unusual 2019 season, when he spent time at both running back and linebacker, but ultimately settled on being a RB. It’s worked out for him ever since, tallying 2731 yards in 24 games over the past two seasons. Allgeier doesn’t have great agility, but he’s certainly capable of breaking tackles and he certainly is a big play threat, as he rattled off numerous big runs in his career at BYU. He isn’t a big factor in the receiving game, but his production on run plays more than compensates. He would certainly be considered a downhill runner, a trait that serves him well when breaking tackles and accelerating. Allgeier certainly has the potential to be a feature back at the next level, and should at least develop into a solid change of pace back for an NFL team.
11. Sincere McCormick / UTSA / 5’-9”, 205 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 132
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 299, Yds 1479, Ave 4.9, TD 15, Rec 22, Yds 184, Ave 8.4, TD 0.
Ryland B.: McCormick is a talented running back whose biggest downsides are out of his control. At 5’9” and 205 pounds, he’s solidly built but undersized for the position. And while he’s certainly been productive while at UTSA, he hasn’t exactly been facing SEC defenses. Putting those worries aside, it’s not hard to see why McCormick is considered a sleeper in this year’s class. He runs with an attitude, and despite his size he has impressive contact balance, quick feet, and power. McCormick can accelerate quickly, and while he’s not exactly the fastest back in this class, he’s no stranger to long runs due to his north-south running style and decisiveness. He’s not afraid of contact either and constantly gains extra yardage. McCormick has the talent and attitude to be an NFL starter, but it’ll be paramount for him to adapt to the professional level of the game.
12. Zonovan Knight / North Carolina State / 5’-11”, 210 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 133
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 140, Yds 753, Ave 5.4, TD 3, Rec 21, Yds 156, Ave 7.4, TD 0.
Ryland B.: Zonovan “Bam” Knight is not just one of the best running backs in this class, but he might be one of the best special teamers as well. The NC State back led the FBS in kickoff return average in the 2021 season, with an impressive 34 yards a return. He has a total of three return touchdowns on his resume, two of which went for 100 yards. But Knight is similarly impressive at his listed position. His production was slightly down in 2021, possibly due to a shoulder surgery that took some of his offseason, but he still put up respectable numbers. He possesses good vision and a solid overall athletic profile with excellent burst. Knight lacks the ideal size for the position, but it’s far from a worry – he runs with more than enough power, quick feet, and shiftiness to run around, and sometimes through, would-be tacklers. This attitude carries into his pass protection, where he’s certainly willing but not always the most effective. It’s unclear yet if Knight has what it takes to be an NFL starter, but I think he has the baseline of skills and special teams versatility to be a safe pick for a team in need of some high-upside depth at the position.
13. Hassan Haskins / Michigan / 6’-1”, 220 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 134
2021 Stats: GP 14, Att 270, Yds 1327, Ave 4.9, TD 20, Rec 18, Yds 131, Ave 7.3, TD 0.
Itz JustNoah: Hassan Haskins stock could not be higher coming off of a 5 touchdown domination over Ohio State to give the Wolverines their first win over the Buckeyes since 2011. He runs with power and uses his lower body strength to run through guys and fight for every yard he can get. He regularly lowers his shoulder to run through guys and he has a great stiff arm that helps him to pick up those extra yards. Haskins isn’t a very refined runner though and has benefited from Michigan’s power run scheme. With a lack of receiving work out of the backfield, I would expect him to be a solid rotational guy at the next level but not a 3 down back.
14. Master Teague / Ohio State / 5’-11”, 226 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 149
2021 Stats: GP 7, Att 66, Yds 348, Ave 5.3, TD 4, Rec 2, Yds 12, Ave 6.0, TD 0.
Jeremy Betz: Teague makes his hay as a powerful, downhill runner with attitude. He has a Michael Turner vibe and style, preferring to use his powerful lower body and quick feet to hit the hole and push the pile. He’s got decent speed (you’ll probably see him run in the 4.5-4.6 range in Indianapolis) but that’s not his calling card. On tape, you see a runner who relies on the blocking scheme to find the hole, and he’s not going to create much outside of the play design. He doesn’t have much experience as a receiver out of the backfield (11 career catches at OSU). His biggest strength is ball security with 0 fumbles on 323 career carries, and a 5.5 yards per rush average is solid for a mostly rotational player in college. Teague’s name will probably get called on day 3 of the draft, and whatever team turns in the card will get a fresh-legged, powerhouse back ready to prove himself. It’ll be interesting to see if he can do it.
15. Rachaad White / Arizona State / 6’-2”, 210 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 150
2021 Stats: GP 11, Att 182, Yds 1000, Ave 5.5, TD 15, Rec 43, Yds 456, Ave 10.6, TD 1
NecksNation: White was a bit of a senior season breakout in 2021, even though he was incredibly efficient in 2020 (10.0 yards per carry, 18.9 yards per catch). He saw his draft stock rise dramatically as he totaled an even 1000 yards on the ground and developed into one of the best receiving backs in the country. His size and athletic traits help him create mismatches as a pass catcher, which should help him appeal to NFL teams on draft day. He’s not quite as heavy as you might expect from someone of his height, but it shouldn’t be much of an issue for him. Pass blocking isn’t really his forte, but it isn’t much of a weakness of his either. He’s not particularly proficient when it comes to breaking tackles, and has sometimes been prone to allowing shoestring tackles, which is something he’ll need to work on. White projects as a third down/receiving back in the NFL and an early to mid Day 3 pick on draft day.
16. Pierre Strong, Jr. / South Dakota State / 5’-11”, 205 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 158
2021 Stats: GP 15, Att 240, Yds 1686, Ave 7.0, TD 18, Rec 22, Yds 150, Ave 6.8, TD 0.
Andrew Wilbar: Strong is sometimes compared to Saints running back Alvin Kamara from a physical standpoint. His size is not overly impressive, but he has nice contact balance and good speed in the open field. Do not let his size fool you though, as he has enough power to run over defenders as well. Strong is also a dependable receiver out of the backfield who can be a mismatch for linebackers covering him, especially when you consider his speed and quickness. His ability to make a sharp cut and immediately turn upfield is as good as any other back’s in this class, and it is impossible to ignore when you watch him play. Could that be what sets him apart and makes him a diamond in the rough? Only time will tell, but there is a lot to like about Strong’s game. The biggest concern for NFL teams will likely be his low level of competition, but I cannot think of much else that NFL teams could complain about. There is risk involved with every FCS prospect, but I like Strong’s chances.
17. Kennedy Brooks / Oklahoma / 5’-11”, 215 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 161
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 197, Yds 1249, Ave 6.3, TD 13, Rec 10, Yds 77, Ave 7.7, TD 0.
Andrew Wilbar: Brooks came out of high school with a patient, Le’Veon Bell-type running style, but during his time at Oklahoma, he became more of a downhill, north-and-south runner. While I was high on him early in his career, I have been somewhat underwhelmed when watching his tape. He doesn’t fight through contact as well as I had expected, and he has not provided any production as a receiver out of the backfield. On the bright side, he tends to play well when his team needs him the most. Three of his best four games of the season came against Texas, Oklahoma State, and Oregon, as he rushed for a combined 498 yards in those three games alone. Brooks has a good feel for finding the hole, and he has the speed to make things happen when he breaks loose, but Oklahoma was teaching him to run with more power and less patience, and I think that actually hurt him as a player. I don’t think he is a true power back. That, in my personal opinion, is why he needs to get back to that patient running style that made him so highly touted coming out of high school. If he can develop into that Le’Veon-style runner, he could make it in the right system.
18. Cam’Ron Harris / Miami / 5’-10”, 210 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 168
2021 Stats: GP 7, Att 71, Yds 409, Ave 5.8, TD 5, Rec 11, Yds 119, Ave 10.8, TD 1.
Ryland B.: Cam’Ron Harris is a compact running back with solid athleticism. He’s displayed good burst and speed at the college level, although it’s nothing to write home about. More worrisome is his tendency to push runs outside or move backwards or horizontally on failed rushes. He has the acceleration at times to succeed in this, but it will be much harder at the NFL level. He can make defenders miss in the open field and usually is powerful enough to gain some yards after contact, although he usually tries to go around, or over, would-be tacklers to varying levels of success. He’s willing in pass protection although sometimes overpowered, also possessing good hands in the passing game although he’s not much of a route-runner. Coming off of a season-ending injury which may hinder his draft stock, Harris likely won’t be the highest or safest pick, but he has some potential to be a solid back at the pro level.
19. Zamir White / Georgia / 6’-0”, 215 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 169
2021 Stats: GP 14, Att 147, Yds 772, Ave 5.3, TD 10, Rec 9, Yds 75, Ave 8.3, TD 0.
Itz JustNoah: White is a powerful runner with good lower body strength and leg drive. His combination of size, vision and burst will make him a solid backup with potential to be a full time starter. However, he’ll be 23 when the season starts, and while that’s not bad for a rookie, running backs tend to age a little quicker than other positions and he already has a lot of carries for his physical playstyle. That, along with his lack of long speed could limit his potential. If he’s put in a good situation, he could be successful very early in his career. I like him going to the Falcons a lot.
20. Tyler Badie / Missouri / 5’-9”, 194 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 170
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 268, Yds 1612, Ave 6.0, TD 14, Rec 54, Yds 330, Ave 6.1, TD 4.
Andrew Wilbar: Don’t let the size fool you. Badie is a very durable back who was a true bell cow for the Tigers’ offense. Despite taking a beating in several big games down the stretch, he withheld the beating and recorded several huge performances down the stretch, accumulating 574 yards on 102 carries over the final three games. His low center of gravity allows him to withstand contact, and he has quick feet than allow him to make tacklers miss in the open field. However, I do not see him as an every-down back. He reminds me a lot of Devin Singletary coming out of college in that he is a small, durable running back who lacks the size or top-end speed to ever become anything special against NFL athletes. Nonetheless, he could absolutely be a nice number two running back in a system that allows him to run outside the tackles and make an impact as a receiver on third downs.
21. Isaih Pacheco / Rutgers / 5’-11”, 215 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 178
2021 Stats: GP: 12 , Att: 167 , Yds: 647 , Ave: 3.9 , TD: 5 , Rec: 13 , Yds: 25 , Ave: 1.9 , TD: 0 .
KT Smith (CHISAP): I first became aware of Isaiah Pacheco when, as a freshman, he quarterbacked his high school team, Vineland (NJ) High, to a victory over the team I coach at Ocean City. We led, 13-12, with about 6:00 remaining when Vineland got the football. They drove 74 yards in 10 plays, 9 of which were runs by Pacheco, and scored with :24 remaining to beat us. He was just 14 years old at the time but already the best player on the field. He ran angry. We couldn’t stop him.
Pacheco is now 21. He still runs angry. His style epitomizes the profile of a one-cut, downhill runner. He’s not huge at 5’11-215 but he plays bigger than his size indicates. He amassed 2,442 yards and 18 touchdowns while getting more than 100 carries in four consecutive seasons at Rutgers. His college numbers suffer some from the fact he played for a rebuilding program, but he did show he can be effective against high-level competition. Pacheco had 20 carries for 107 yards against national semi-finalist Michigan and their elite defense this past season. As a sophomore, he garnered 102 yards against 10th ranked Penn State.
Pacheco’s intangibles are excellent. He was a team captain at Rutgers and has notable leadership qualities. His passion for football is in part born of tragedy, as he lost both his brother and his sister a year apart when he was in high school. He has remarked that he plays to honor them, and that their memory serves as his inspiration. Pacheco does not project as an every-down back but could make a team as a change-of-pace runner who is a good receiver out of the backfield. He is best-suited for a zone-heavy scheme (like Pittsburgh’s), and would be an interesting consideration as a late-round pick who could provide depth to a team’s running back room.
22. Dameon Pierce / Florida / 5’-10”, 215 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 179
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 100, Yds 574, Ave 5.7, TD 13, Rec 19, Yds 216, Ave 11.4, TD 1.
Andrew Wilbar: Pierce may be one of the most underrated running back prospects. He has good speed, shiftiness, and contact balance. Pierce is not a bulldozer, but he does have some sneaky power, and he does a great job of withstanding serious contact. His lower body strength is evident on tape when you see him carrying a couple defenders and picking up an extra yard or two. He is at his best, however, when he can run laterally and use his agile, elusive style of running to make defenders miss. He also has incredibly good footwork, which allows him to stop on a dime and be nearly impossible to bring down one-on-one in the open field. While all this sounds enticing, we have not seen it consistently enough. He does not always do a great job of seeing the hole before it closes, and he does not have elite short-area quickness, which is most noticeable when he is running in between the tackles. There is definitely some upside with Pierce, but let’s see how consistent he is the week of the Senior Bowl.
23. Mataeo Durant / Duke / 6’-1”, 195 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 194
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 255, Yds 1241, Ave 4.8, TD 9, Rec 27, Yds 252, Ave 9.3, TD 2.
Itz JustNoah: Mataeo Durant is coming off a record setting season for Duke, breaking the single season school rushing record with 1,241 yards yet he remains under the radar. He’s athletic, he’s got quick feet and he has the speed to take any run to the house. He has good vision and when he finds a hole he hits it and explodes through it. While he isn’t much of a tackle breaker he can make people miss in the open field. He hasn’t gotten a ton of receiving work during his time at Duke but he is simply a playmaker and if you get the ball in his hands he can make something out of nothing, think Alvin Kamara. If there’s a team in need of a running back in the later rounds, I think Durant could really pay off.
24. Connor Heyward (FB) / Michigan State / 6’-0”, 230 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 204
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 1, Yds 7, Ave 7.0, TD 0, Rec 35, Yds 326, Ave 9.3, TD 2.
Andrew Wilbar: The brother of Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, Connor is a fairly athletic fullback who can be used as a runner, blocker, and receiver. Heyward was used as a running back his first four seasons at Michigan State, but he willingly changed positions and played the role of an H-back. He is listed as a tight end on the Spartans’ website, but he will most definitely be considered a fullback headed into the NFL. Heyward is a good blocker who, much like his brother, displays great effort and toughness on every down. Just to give insight as to how versatile he is, Michigan State used him as a kick returner his first two seasons in Lansing as well as making him a rotational running back. As a blocker, Heyward plays to the whistle and beats his opponents with physicality. I wanted Ben Mason in last year’s draft, but if the Steelers decide to part ways with Derek Watt, perhaps Cam Heyward will be the next Steeler to have a family member join him on the team.
25. Tyler Goodson / Iowa / 5’-10”, 199 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 205
2021 stats: GP 13, Att 256, Yds 1151, Ave 4.5, TD 6, Rec 31, Yds 247, Ave 8.0, TD 1.
Ryland B.: What Goodson lacks in size he makes up for in straight line speed. The versatile back plays with excellent speed and acceleration to go along with a decent arsenal of moves to make defenders miss. When he can get some momentum Goodson has surprising power for a 199-lb back, although he’s far from a short-yardage specialist. However, his build, athleticism, and hands have made him a viable weapon in the receiving game out of both the backfield and slot. Goodson has clearly benefited from top-tier offensive line play while at Iowa, which may lead some to question just how impressive his vision and production really are, but I think he’s more than proven that he can make an impact at the next level. If Goodson’s 40-time is as impressive as it looks on the field, he might be drafted surprisingly early.
26. Jashaun Corbin / Florida State / 6’-0”, 215 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 222
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 143, Yds 887, Ave 6.2, TD 7, Rec 25, Yds 144, Ave 5.8, TD 1.
Andrew Wilbar: Corbin is a talented running back who will likely shoot up draft boards this spring. After transferring from Texas A&M, Corbin became the main back for the Seminoles for the past two seasons when healthy. Florida State’s offensive line was far from spectacular, but he was still able to average 6.2 yards per carry this season. He will show effort as a blocker, but he does not always show a great understanding of his assignments, having an occasional miss in pass protection. Corbin is a compactly built runner who displays great short-area burst and a low pad level when carrying the football. I also like Corbin’s leg drive in short yardage situations. He keeps the legs churning after contact and can will his way to a first down. He has a second gear of speed to break away from defenders as well. Unfortunately, he has not become too involved in the passing game, averaging less than two receptions per game in his four years of college ball. While some of Corbin’s injuries have not caused him to miss time, he has dealt with some sort of injury every year of college, and as a running back, that is something that could haunt not only draft stock, but an NFL career. If he can pass the medicals in Indy, though, he has a chance to be a day two pick.
27. D’Vonte Price / Florida International / 6’-2”, 215 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 225
2020 Stats: GP 9, Att 129, Yds 682, Ave 5.3, TD 7, Rec 10, Yds 83, Ave 8.3, TD 0.
Andrew Wilbar: Price is a sly, shifty runner who, despite his height, plays with a low pad level. If he wants to become a true, downhill-style runner, he could definitely add more weight to his frame, but he can do a little bit of everything at his current size. He has some power, but he is also very elusive in the open field and has plenty of killer moves, including ankle-breaking jukes and highlight-reel spin moves. He is very decisive as a runner but isn’t foolish trying to go through a hole that isn’t there. He has solid vision, and his ability to make quick cuts allows him to hit a hole before it closes. However, much like several other running backs I have talked about, Price has not played a huge factor in the passing game. Fortunately, he accepted his invitation to the Senior Bowl and will have an opportunity to showcase any pass-catching ability he may have. Another issue is that he sometimes gets carried away with his moves in the open field and ends up doing an unnecessary move, killing an opportunity he had to run straight ahead. Whether he is overthinking it or just trying to do too much is unknown, but he is moving laterally rather than forward too often, leaving additional yards on the field. Nonetheless, there is a lot to like about Price, and I will have a close eye on him during the Senior Bowl.
28. Max Borghi / Washington State / 5’-10”, 205 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 229
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 160, Yds 880, Ave 5.5, TD 12, Rec 16, Yds 156, Ave 9.8, TD 0.
Ryland B.: Borghi is a stereotypical third down back who has the most usage and success on outside runs and in the passing game. He isn’t particularly shifty or powerful, but he does possess an impressive stiff arm and good speed and acceleration. He has good hands in the passing game, where his speed makes him a valuable asset. Borghi also plays with good vision although he does have the tendency to push his runs outside. Overall, I think his athleticism gives him NFL potential, but his success will likely be limited to a situational role.
29. Abram Smith / Baylor / 5’-11”, 221 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 234
2021 stats: GP 14, Att 257, Yds 1601, Ave 6.2, TD 12, Rec 13, Yds 75, Ave 5.8, TD 0.
Jeremy Betz: Smith broke out in 2021 putting together a 2nd-Team All Big 12 performance, showcasing his impressive blend of power and speed for the Bears. When you watch the tape, Smith’s contact balance and vision stand out, and as a 1-year starter, he has very little tread on the tires and plenty of room for growth. Dallas’s Tony Pollard is a similar style runner, and Smith could find himself in a similar role early in his NFL career if given the opportunity. An area Smith will need to show improvement in is as a pass-catcher. If he can show development in that area, his stock will continue to rise. Projecting his draft range is difficult in a good RB class, but when clubs turn on the tape, they’ll find an explosive runner with great vision and the ability to turn any touch into a big play.
30. Bryant Koback / Toledo / 6’-0”, 210 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 243
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 208, Yds 1407, Ave 6.8, TD 15, Rec 30, Yds 338, Ave 11.3, TD 3.
Andrew Wilbar: Koback’s impressive 120 yard performance in Toledo’s near-upset of Notre Dame put him on the NFL Draft radar for many fans who were previously unaware of him. Koback isn’t the most powerful back, and he will definitely need to add weight moving forward, but he displays decent speed in the open field. As a receiver, he displays good awareness and an understanding of his assignment. Rarely does he make a mental mistake, run the wrong route out of the backfield, or line up in the wrong spot. He stays focused on the task at hand, and that is something that NFL coaches will love about him. The issue with Koback is that much of his production came when he was running through wide open holes and not having to create yardage on his own. Nonetheless, if he tests well at either the combine or his pro day, he will put himself in a prime position to be taken at some point on day three.
31. Raheem Blackshear / Virginia Tech / 5’-9”, 194 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking 251
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 133, Yds 760, Ave 5.7, TD 6, Rec 25, Yds 249, Ave 10, TD 1.
Ryland B.: I feel like Blackshear could be a bit of a sleeper in the later rounds. I’m not sure if I’d categorize him as a speed back per se, but he has more than enough to easily outrun linebackers. He runs with quick feet, great burst, vision, and just enough shiftiness to maneuver around defenders in the open field. At 194 pounds he’s not a power runner by any means, but he plays tough and can occasionally push the pile. He’s also a willing blocker. His speed is a nice asset in the passing game where he was successful on screen plays where he could run in space. He’s also displayed good hands on some more difficult catches down the field. Blackshear could be a late-round pick with some upside for a team in need of a rotational running back.
32. Ronnie Rivers / Fresno State / 5’-9”, 195 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 254
2021 Stats: GP 11, Att 170, Yds 788, Ave 4.6, TD 5, Rec 34, Yds 364, Ave 10.7, TD 2.
Ryland B.: Rivers has been a solid back at the college level, but not the most exciting draft prospect. He doesn’t have great size or speed and seems rather average (for a college athlete) when it comes to most of the important traits for his position. He runs with some nice acceleration through the gap but lacks ideal long speed, although he’s broken a few big runs in his career thanks to a decisive and north-south running style. He can run through some tackle attempts occasionally but lacks the size and power to do so successfully at the NFL level. Rivers’ versatility does stand out with his usage in the passing game, where he has had success lined up at receiver and running out of the backfield, displaying good hands as well as awareness on extended plays. However, he’s far from a polished route runner. I see him as a late-round/UDFA selection.
33. Travis Dye / Oregon / 5’-10”, 190 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 273
2021 Stats: GP 14, Att 211, Yds 1271, Ave 6.0, TD 16, Rec 46, Yds 402, Ave 8.7, TD 2.
Ryland B.: Dye has been an incredibly productive player while at Oregon, but there are real concerns about his NFL potential. Listed at 190 pounds and possibly playing at less, Dye’s slight build is an immediate red flag on his draft profile. Beyond that, he’s not a particularly powerful runner, although he plays with plenty of effort. Athletically, he doesn’t have the breakaway speed of other successful backs in his weight class, but he has an adequate athletic baseline. Dye’s efforts in the passing game are certainly a bright spot, as he’s been a popular and productive target in the Oregon passing game. However, while he’s displayed good hands and toughness, I’m not sure if a switch to slot receiver (as some have proposed) would be a great plan. Overall, I like Dye a lot as a college player and think he’d certainly be worth a late round pick or UDFA contract with the hope he can develop into a contributor.
34. Jeremiah Hall (FB) / Oklahoma / 6’-2”, 248 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 281
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 32, Yds 334, Ave 10.4, TD 4, Rec 6, Yds 25, Ave 4.2, TD 1.
Andrew Wilbar: Hall is a fullback who was used more than most fullbacks in the passing game. Often aligned as an H-back or even tight end on occasion, Hall displayed good hands on his way to accumulating 334 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns on 32 receptions in 2021. However, I was not impressed with what I have seen from him as a blocker. I first noticed his inconsistency in that area when watching him in the 2020 Cotton Bowl against Florida. If he fails to latch onto his man at the point of attack, he struggles. Coming out of his stance, he plays too far over his feet as a blocker, causing him to lose balance. He maintains a relatively low pad level as a run blocker, but his hand placement is all over the place, and it has allowed defenders to disengage from him very easily and make a play on the ball carrier. Despite Hall’s solid athleticism and upside, I think his inconsistency as a blocker may prevent him from being drafted.
35. Devin Wynn / Furman / 6’-0”, 211 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 297
2021 Stats: GP 8, Att 104, Yds 492, Ave 4.7, TD 6, Rec 12, Yds 130, Ave 10.8, TD 2.
Andrew Wilbar: There is some athletic upside with Wynn, but he doesn’t have much else going for him. He had over 200 rushing yards in Furman’s game against Wofford, but that is the only time he recorded more than 85 rushing yards in a single game. Having said that, he is very slippery in the open field. If you take a bad tackling angle and you are the only defender around, good luck keeping him from taking it all the way to the house. He has solid ball skills as a receiver out of the backfield, but the inconsistent production makes one wonder how much of it was his fault and how much was on the rest of the offense. If he goes undrafted, the right team may be able to pick him up and develop him into a valuable depth running back, but I see nothing more than that.
Best of the Rest
36. Jerrion Ealy — Ole Miss
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 297
Ryland B.: Ealy is an incredibly shifty back with good speed, physicality, and versatility. The issue? He does it all at only 185 pounds.
37. C.J. Verdell — Oregon
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 300
Ryland B.: Verdell is a physical downhill runner with excellent straight-line speed and explosiveness. He has the potential to be a fantastic back in the NFL, but his ranking is low due to his injury issues, including one that ended his 2021-22 season.
38. Ty Chandler — North Carolina
Andrew’s Overall Ranking 320
Ryland B.: Chandler has good size, speed, and production, but is lacking when it comes to overall vision and play strength.
39. Zander Horvath (FB/RB) — Purdue
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 346
Ryland B.: Horvath is a big, physical runner whose ability as a lead blocker could make him a good fullback in the NFL. I’d like to see more consistent burst from Horvath, but he is an exceptional athlete for his size and a contributor in the passing game, making him a versatile weapon.
40. Ricky Person, Jr. — NC State
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 359
Ryland B.: Person is a solid-all-around back with good physicality although he lacks the speed to be much of a home-run hitter.
41. B.J. Baylor — Oregon State
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 371
Ryland B.: Baylor started off as a short-yardage specialist before taking over as the Beavers’ lead back in 2021, where he promptly finished the season as the PAC-12’s rushing leader, showing off his physical running style and size/speed combination. However, how much of his success can be attributed to his excellent run-blocking offensive line?
42. Snoop Conner — Ole Miss
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 395
Ryland B.: Conner runs with great power and acceleration to go along with his good size at 220 pounds. I think he could be a good short-yardage back in the NFL.
Which running back do you think is the best in this draft class? Do you see any of these backs as nice fits with the Steelers? Be sure to light up the comment section with your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft!