Everyone single year the talk of the draft is, how many running backs will go in the first round? We are going to have the same conversation in 2021. Najee Harris, the crimson tide back is the top guy in the class no doubt, similar to the Quarterback class, there are multiple players vying for the number two spot. Let us get into this class that is very deep and has late round guys that can be true difference makers in their rookie campaigns!
1. Najee Harris – Alabama
2. Javonte Williams – North Carolina
3. Kenneth Gainwell – Memphis
4. Travis Etienne – Clemson
5. Michael Carter – North Carolina
6. Rhamondre Stevenson – Oklahoma
7. Khalil Herbert – Virginia Tech
8. Demetric Felton – UCLA
9. Trey Sermon – Ohio State
10. Kylin Hill – Mississippi State
11. Jemar Jefferson – Oregon State
12. Spencer Brown – UAB
13. Chuba Hubbard – Oklahoma State
14. Jaret Patterson – Buffalo
15. Javian Hawkins – Louisville
16. Pooka Williams Jr. – Kansas
17. Chris Evans – Michigan
18. Rakeem Boyd – Arkansas
19. Elijah Mitchell – Louisiana
20. Larry Rountree III – Missouri
1. NAJEE HARRIS – ALABAMA – 6’2 229 Senior
The Crimson Tide running back is one of my favorite players in the upcoming April draft. Harris brings a great blend of speed and power to the position, showing the ability to bounce it outside and beat defenders to the edge while having the power to gain the extra yards in the trenches. During his time at Alabama, Harris made strides as a pass catcher every year, his senior year he had 43 catches for 425 yards. Teams will not over think this one, Harris is RB1 without a doubt!
PREDICTION – Late 1st round
2. Javonte Williams – North Carolina – 5’10 220 Junior
Williams is the type of back that every single NFL team is looking to add to their offense. The Tar heels junior running back is a blend of speed and power. Compact runner, like a bowling ball in the open field difficult to bring down on the first contact. Teams will love Williams in the passing game, terrific in pass protection and a great pass catcher out of the backfield. With few holes in his game, Williams is going to make a big-time impact during his rookie year.
PREDICTION – MID 2nd round
3. Kenneth Gainwell – Memphis – 5’11 194 RS Sophomore
Is Memphis running back U? Looks that way, Antonio Gibson, Darrell Henderson, and Tony Pollard are some of the former Tigers making a name for themselves in the league. Kenneth Gainwell is next on the list. Gainwell is an explosive back whose has great vision, footwork, and elusiveness. In his first full year as the starter, Gainwell showcased his route running ability, hauling in 51 receptions. His lean frame is something that might concern teams, that should not divert teams from drafting him. Gainwell is the new age back in the NFL, pass catcher who is a mismatch that is extremely versatile.
PREDICTION – MID 2nd round
4. Travis Etienne – Clemson – 5’10 205 Senior
The ACC all – time leading rusher is one of the most electrifying players in the upcoming draft. Etienne is an explosive back with great contact balance who can hit the home run and take it to the house very single time he touches it. He has made big strides as a pass catcher, is a terror vs linebacker in coverage. The one thing in his game that needs to be sharpened is his pass protection technique. Etienne is as explosive as they come, will be a mismatch for teams to cover in the years to come.
PREDICTION – MID 2nd round
5. Michael Carter – North Carolina – 5’8 199 Senior
Michael Carter was the change of pace back this season for the Tar Heels, and what a change of pace that was. Carter has great burst and elusiveness, shows the ability to make timely cuts with his great vision. The passing game is where Carter will make his money, 82 receptions during his time at Chapel Hill. Carter is best suited the be a running back B in a zone scheme with upside in the passing game.
PREDICTION – 3rd Round
6. Rhamondre Stevenson – Oklahoma 6’0 227 Senior
Stevenson is one of the more slept on prospects in the upcoming April draft. Nasty downhill runner who is not afraid to lower the shoulder and run through defenders. Great athlete for his size, played the 2020 season at 245 trimmed down to 227 for the senior bowl. Few off the field things (failed drug test) should not be a red flag. Big nasty back who is tough to bring down who can play all three downs is what I see in Stevenson.
PREDICTION – 3rd round
FAVORITE LATE ROUND GUYS
10. Jemar Jefferson – Oregon State 5’10 216 Junior
The Oregon State back is late round prospects that I think has a chance to have a stellar career. Jefferson has a lot of the qualities you want in a backup running back. Tough runner, good vision to explode through the gaps. Patient runner who does a good job setting up blocks. Jefferson runs high at times, has not shown the ability to make the first make miss and break tackles. Jefferson is a good fit in a zone scheme as a change of pace guy off the bench.
PREDICTION – 4th – 5th round
12. Spencer Brown – UAB 6’0 220 Senior
Brown is an old school type of back. Think Eddie Lacy-like. Big bruiser who when he gets down looks to punish defenders. Productive career during his time at UAB, 4,011 career rushing yards. Has good vision to find the proper gaps. Brown does not have the quickness or the speed to make him a star at next level at the moment. Like I said Brown is old school early down back that has some value late in the draft.
PREIDCTION – 6th – 7th rounds