Landing Forecast for 2022 NFL Draft’s Best Running Backs | Bleacher report

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    Al Goldis / Associated Press

    The 2022 NFL Draft is now just weeks away, and rumors and predictions are pouring in at a rapid pace.

    Much of the focus on heading into Round 1 has been centered around quarterbacks. The exciting group has some legitimate options in the first round, including Liberty’s Malik Willis and Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, but no clear top goal.

    Analysts and scouts will spend the next few weeks discussing who the best pass-rusher is, which offensive lineman should be selected first, and who is the best receiver in what appears to be another promising prospect pool.

    However, not much attention has been paid to this year’s harvest of running backs. That’s going to change here.

    The position has lost some of its draft glamor in recent years, as the gems are regularly found in the late rounds and as free agents without drafts. However, there is still value in taking the right thing back. All seven backs selected for or appearing in the 2022 Pro Bowl were drafted in the third round or earlier.

    Below you will find a look at the six best running backs in the Bleacher Report Scouting Department’s latest major board and predictions for where each one can land. Factors such as previous production, skill set, potential benefits, team needs, draft order and expected draft area were all taken into account. The prospects are listed in alphabetical order.

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    Darron Cummings / Associated Press

    With us Tyler Allgeier may not be an immediate workhorse in the NFL, but can make an early impact.

    He is a big (5’10 ¾“, 224 lbs), physical back who also contributes as a receiver and as a pass-blocker. The bank on Allgeier is that he is more of a grinder than a true breakaway threat. Because of this, he may be best in a complementary role early.

    “Allgeier would be best paired with another fullback who has more burst to his game, but he has the size and well-rounded game to be able to take some of the touches,” wrote Nate Tice of the B / R Scouting Department . “His lack of true home running speed and some tread on his tires are his biggest flaws, but Allgeier has the efficiency, vision and toughness to be a consistent contributor in the race.”

    The Allgeier totaled 1,606 rushing yards, 199 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns for the Cougars last season.

    The Seattle Seahawks have a potentially perfect running mate for the Allgeier in Rashaad Penny, who exploded down the stretch in 2021. Penny is a homerun hitter, though he has a long injury history and is not suited for a role to be played.

    Penny has only played 37 games in four seasons, including due to a torn ACL that derailed his 2019 and ’20 campaigns.

    Seattle has a blower Chris Carson on the list, but he is working his way back from a neck operation and entering the final season of a two-year deal. Allgeier and Penny could serve as the new basis for the Seahawks offensive in the post-Russell Wilson era.

    Prediction: Allgeier goes to Seattle 72nd overall (round 3).

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    Jeff Dean / Associated Press

    Jerome Ford, from the University of Cincinnati, is the third ranked running back on the B / R board. Although he is not a massive runner, he is solidly built at 5’10 ½ “and 210 pounds and is a legitimate breakaway threat who can also contribute as a receiver.

    Last season, Ford totaled 1,320 rushing yards, 220 receiving yards and 20 combined touchdowns for the Bearcats.

    “He’s a talented, explosive option out of the backfield with soft hands and the speed to mismatch linebackers out in space. The pieces are not all in place, but Ford may have a future as a tempo-shifting slasher with third- down in value,” wrote NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein.

    While Ford has the tools to be an immediate contributor, his somewhat smaller frame and average vision make him best suited for a role in a two-string urgent attack. The Atlanta Falcons could place him in just such a role alongside runner / receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

    Patterson saw his first meaningful job running back in 2021, finishing with 153 carries for 618 yards and six touchdowns. He also caught 52 passes for 548 yards and five goals. Atlanta has Mike Davis in the complementary role, but he largely disappointed last season with an average of just 3.6 yards per game.

    With Patterson (31) and Davis (29), both aging players, Atlanta would be wise to target a younger runner out of season. Ford (22) would be the perfect target, able to rotate early and replace Patterson as the primary run-receiving threat down the road.

    Prediction: Ford goes to Atlanta as number 43 overall (round 2).

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    Darron Cummings / Associated Press

    Iowa State’s Breece Hall is the second ranked back on the B / R board, but it will not be a shock if he is the first from the board later this month. Hall legitimately combines dual-threat potential with size (5’11 ¼ “, 217 lbs) and vision, making him a true three-down threat.

    Nathan Forster of Football Outsiders wrote the following for ESPN:

    “Hall, despite his heavy workload in the running game, also contributed significantly to Cyclones’ passing attack and caught 82 passes on 734 yards. For that reason, NFL teams can have an extra degree of confidence when drafting Hall, because even if he does not acting as a pure runner, it is likely that he will add value as a receiver coming out of the backfield. “

    Last season, Hall counted 1,472 rushing yards, 302 receiving yards and 23 combined touchdowns for the Cyclones.

    The New York Jets appear to have found a solid backing after taking on North Carolina’s Michael Carter in the fourth round of the 2021 draft. Carter ended his rookie campaign with 639 rushing yards, 325 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

    Pairing Hall with Carter – and complementary back Tevin Coleman – would give New York one of the best backfields in the AFC East and help second-year quarterback Zach Wilson.

    Wilson, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft, fought early and often as a rookie, but his support came from only the league’s 26th-ranked attack and 27th-ranked haste attack.

    Prediction: Hall goes to the Jets 35th overall (round 2).

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    Al Goldis / Associated Press

    Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III is the top-ranked running back on the B / R board and perhaps the best workhorse runner in this class. The Wake Forest transfer shone for the Spartans in 2021, rushing for 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns, while they averaged 6.2 yards per carry. carry.

    Although Walker is not very polished in passing protection and does not offer a ton as a receiver – he only had 19 receptions in three seasons – he is an explosive big-play runner who can add a spark to the ground game.

    “Walker is a fun and exciting player who can add great play ability to any NFL team’s backfield, while being polished and efficient at taking what’s blocked for him,” Tice wrote in Walker’s scouting report. “The juice he brings along with the vision and understanding of how to pace his running trips will allow him to be a contributor in any kind of running plan.”

    The Houston Texans could use a midpoint for their team’s backfield, which has Marlon Mack, Rex Burkhead and Dare Ogunbowale at the top. 5’9 ¼ “, 211-pound Walker fits the bill.

    Houston may have found its next signal-caller in Davis Mills, who flashed with potential as a rookie in 2021. However, it was hard to assess what Mills might be with a misdemeanor that lay dead last in total yards, rushing yards and yards per carry.

    Adding Walker would give an immediate boost to the base game and help take some pressure off Mills as he looks set to evolve in Year 2.

    Prediction: Walker goes to Houston 37th overall (Round 2).

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    Darron Cummings / Associated Press

    Arizona State’s Rachaad White is the kind of meat-and-potato ball carrier who will not necessarily thrill draft nicks, but who can become a solid part of an NFL offensive line. With a tall but not very thick building (6’0 “, 214 lbs), White can struggle with low tackles and create short space, but he possesses good open field speed (4.48 seconds 40-yard line) and can handle a large workload.

    White is also a solid contributor in the passing game.

    “He tends to be slowed down or stopped by tacklers at the first level, but is a more natural runner once he gets up to the second level. He fails to show enough creativity to escape ‘getting what’s blocked.’ brand, but it makes him drive with adequate vision, “Zierlein wrote.

    White ended his 2021 campaign with 1,006 rushing yards, 456 receiving yards and 16 combined touchdowns.

    While he may not be a real starter, he can be a good complementary option. The Arizona Cardinals could give him the perfect home along with 2021 Pro Bowler James Conner.

    Last season, Conner recorded 752 rushing yards, 375 receiving yards and 18 combined touchdowns while sharing the load with Chase Edmonds. Edmonds, however, traveled to the Miami Dolphins in free run.

    Arizona could consider giving Conner a role in 2022, but that’s a risky proposition. He was heavily touchdown-dependent and averaged only 3.7 yards per game. carry. Adding white would help ensure that the cardinals’ urgent attack is a threat in all areas of the field.

    Prediction: White goes to Arizona as number 55 overall (round 2).

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    Darron Cummings / Associated Press

    Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams is the sixth ranked back on the B / R board, and he projects as a complementary runner and receiving specialist. He is an undersized back of 5’9 ¼ “and 194 pounds, but he can be dangerous in a specialized role.

    The big question mark around Williams is the disappointing 4.65-second 40 he delivered at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

    “NFL teams cannot overlook the fact that Williams is not an explosive athlete,” wrote Brent Sobleski of the B / R Scouting Department. “Yes, he is a smooth receiver and deserves credit in that area. But evaluators should wonder if he has enough juice to be just as effective at the highest level.”

    While Williams was good enough as a ball carrier in 2020 and 2021, he never handled more than 211 balls in a season. In 2021, Williams finished with 1,005 rushing yards, 359 receiving yards and 17 combined touchdowns.

    As a backup and receiving back, Williams could be a great addition to the Denver Broncos 2021 election Javonte Williams in the second round. The North Carolina product recorded 903 rushing yards, 316 receiving yards and seven touchdowns while sharing the load with Melvin Gordon III, who himself is a good double-threat back without elite speed (4.52 40-yard dash).

    Gordon, who had 918 rushing yards and 213 receiving yards last season, remains unsigned as a free agent and recently met with the Baltimore Ravens, according to NFL Networks Ian Rapoport. Replacing Gordon with Williams would give Denver a stunning and versatile young backfield to pair with new quarterback Russell Wilson.

    Prediction: Williams goes to Denver 75th overall (Round 3).

    * Complete drafts of profiles and projections from the Bleacher Report Scouting Department’s large board can be found here. Draft order via Tankathon.

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