I went through and scouted 31 different NFL Draft running back prospects for this cycle. Each player I studied in-depth and really explored their potential abilities. However, the grades more so reflect where each prospect is now based on their current ability. In the event of a tie, I insert my opinions on who I would prefer over others based on upside and their chances of improving in those abilities.

A little bit about my grades and how to read them:

87 and over is considered a first round grade. After that, anyone from 86-80 is considered a day two grade. 79 and under is considered a day three grade.

Here are my grades and rankings for the running back position:

  1. Najee Harris, Alabama (91)
  2. Travis Etienne, Clemson (87)
  3. Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis (85)
  4. Michael Carter, North Carolina (83)
  5. Javonte Williams, North Carolina (82)
  6. Kylin Hill, Mississippi State (82)
  7. Rhamandre Stevenson, Oklahoma (81)
  8. Spencer Brown, UAB (80)
  9. Aaron McAllister, Charlotte (80)
  10. Stephen Carr, USC (79)
  11. Trey Sermon, Ohio State (78)
  12. Gary Brightwell, Arizona (78)
  13. CJ Marable, Coastal Carolina (77)
  14. Larry Rountree, Missouri (77)
  15. Greg McCrae, UCF (76)
  16. Gerrid Doaks, Cincinnati (76)
  17. Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech (75)
  18. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State (75)
  19. Javian Hawkins, Louisville (74)
  20. Josh Johnson, ULM (74)
  21. Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana (73)
  22. Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State (72)
  23. Trey Ragas, Louisiana (72)
  24. Jaret Patterson, Buffalo (71)
  25. Pooka Williams, Kansas (71)
  26. Rakeem Boyd, Arkansas (71)
  27. Kene Nwangwu, Iowa State (71)
  28. Jake Funk, Maryland (70)
  29. JaQuan Hardy, Tiffin (70)
  30. Justin Henderson, Louisiana Tech (69)
  31. Tre Harbison, Charlotte (67)

*Note – I still plan to look at a few running backs who aren’t listed here, notably Deon Jackson (Duke), Caleb Huntley (Ball State), Chris Evans (Michigan), Asim Rose (Kentucky), Shane Simpson (Virginia), and Mekhi Sargent (Iowa). The complete rankings will be released as a part of the premium portion of this website upon it’s release.

Let’s get into the scouting notes:

  • Javonte Williams received the nod over Kylin Hill because of his overall skillset. Williams is a more complete prospect than Hill is. While Hill can be a game-changing receiver or runner out of the backfield, Williams contributes to all three facets of the game; running, receiving, and pass blocking.
  • Spencer Brown was placed ahead of Aaron McAllister for the same reason Javonte Williams was put ahead of Kylin Hill. Brown is a powerful downhill runner who offers receiving ability as well as pass blocking, while McAllister is more of a weapon that will be utilized in a rotational backfield.
  • I liked Trey Sermon slightly more than I liked Gary Brightwell because of Sermon’s ability. The injury rating lowered him on this scale because of his inability to stay healthy. If Sermon had a healthy background, I think he’d be an 81 grade or so. Brightwell is talented and offers a good variety of tools, he’s just not as gifted as Sermon is.
  • CJ Marable offers more than Larry Rountree to teams looking to add them to their offenses. I think Marable flashes the upside to be a great weapon in a rotational set as well as what he offers in special teams value. Rountree is a very strong runner, but that’s about it.
  • People are going to ask why people like Javian Hawkins, Jaret Patterson, and Chuba Hubbard are so low. They are all rotational pieces who lack either receiving ability or pass blocking ability. The way that the grading system is formated is to seek out players who are good at two of those skills, and capable in the third.

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By John Vogel

NFL Draft Analyst. Dad.

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