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Rookies Scouting Rookies: The Top RBs

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The NFL scouting combine is in the rearview mirror. As we enter rookie draft season, let’s take a look at the incoming rookies and see what their tape shows. We’ll dive into the rookie profile series with the “consensus” top three RBs.


One of my favorite times of the year for some weird reason is the NFL offseason. I enjoy studying young players entering the league and projecting roles and finding similar players. Likely the most valuable players for your dynasty rosters are the young RBs on their rookie deals. Every site you read has a “consensus” top three of Breece Hall, Isaiah Spiller, and Kenneth Walker III. Read on for my thoughts on each!

Breece Hall, Iowa State, Age 20

Breece Hall, post combine measurables, is my clear RB1 in rookie drafts. I think he should be picked 1.01 in rookie drafts in single QB leagues and is top three in SuperFlex leagues. Hall measured in at 5’11”, 217 pounds, which is a great size to hold up in the NFL as a three-down back. He also ran a 4.39 second 40, had a 40″ vertical jump, and 126″ broad jump.

Tape Evaluation

Hall has the most well-rounded tape I’ve evaluated in 2022. When you turn on the film, you see that he shows great patience behind the line of scrimmage. Once Hall sees a crease, though, he gets up the field in a hurry. He bursts to and through holes with regularity, showcasing strong vision and feel for running the ball. Hall sets up players at the second level really well, regularly making defenders look silly.

He’s a strong kid. In most of his runs Hall is falling forward for positive yardage, despite some shaky line play and being a focal point of the offense. Sometimes, I think he’s a bit too patient and can dance a bit instead of getting what he can. I’m not sure 4.39 shows up on tape, as Hall can struggle to finish long runs in the end zone. I’m being somewhat nit-picky though, as a lot of these struggles are fixable.

Hall is a solid pass catcher, catching the ball away from his body. He wasn’t asked to run a variety of routes in college, but that doesn’t mean he can’t. Hall is willing to stick his nose in and block, though the effort level is varied.

Comps, Draft Capital, and Role

The easiest role to project, Breece Hall is a true three-down back at the pro level. He does everything well and will fit into nearly any scheme. Like many RBs, Hall ran mostly from the shotgun in college so some adjustments might be needed in certain schemes but should be a quick study.

As you can see in the first tweet linked, Hall is firmly in the round two range. Teams like Miami, Atlanta, Arizona, and Tampa Bay all make a lot of sense, depending on free agency. Regardless, Hall will vault into RB1 range in dynasty immediately. To me, he runs a lot like Le’Veon Bell with how patient he is, just stylistically (not as a route runner though). I also think of a more explosive Kareem Hunt.

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Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State, Age 21

Kenneth Walker III is such a fun tape study. Go watch the show he put on versus the 2021 College Football Playoff team Michigan. Walker had a total of 23 carries, 197 yards, and 5 (!?!) touchdowns on the ground that game. Absolutely insane stuff to watch and has me excited to see what team gives him a shot. He measured in at 5’9″, 211 pounds, ran a 4.38 second 40, had a 34″ vertical jump, and 122″ broad jump.

Tape Evaluation

From just a rushing standpoint, Kenneth Walker III stands above the rest of this class. His vision and feel for running the football are special. I’m excited by the comps I have for him. He transferred to Michigan State for the 2021 season and what a choice that was. In his 12 game sample, there was an average of 22 carries, 136 yards, and 1.5 touchdowns. Watching the tape you see an RB in complete control.

Even as the centerpiece of the offense, Walker was tough for teams to stop. He bounces off, stiff arms, and spins away from would-be tacklers with ease. He has speed to the edges and the vision to cut back into the open gaps. For his size, Walker has great power, pushing piles into the end zone. Finally, he showed a willingness to stick his nose in there and block guys.

A big hole you’ll hear about with Walker is his pass-catching. I don’t see an elite pass-catching back but he’s catching with his hands away from his body and adjusting to poor throws. He’ll be fine as an outlet option. The other knock is running from the shotgun. From behind the QB, either under center or pistol, are where Walker’s longer runs came. It’s not a massive concern, just something to watch with landing spots.

Comps, Draft Capital, and Role

As you can see from the draft capital tweet above, Walker is currently projected in round 2. This is great for his long-term outlook and year one role. At a minimum, he offers an early grinder role a la Nick Chubb. I have Walker atop the second-tier RBs, based on projected role and draft capital. While it’s not quite the same, his strengths and weaknesses remind me of Adrian Peterson and hope for a similar system.

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Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M, Age 20

Isaiah Spiller is the best receiving back in this class. Texas A&M used him in a variety of roles and he showed adequate to good abilities in all. Especially in PPR leagues, Spiller will be in contention for RB2 due to this usage, with a good landing spot. He measured in at 6’0″ and 217 pounds, with a 30″ vertical jump and 114″ broad jump. Due to a muscle injury, he didn’t run the 40 at the combine.

Tape Evaluation

Isaiah Spiller is “falling” without running the 40 while the other two were sub 4.4. What he put on tape doesn’t support that for me. Spiller is firmly in a tier with Walker, pending the checkout at his pro day. The A&M product is a stud pass catcher. They split him out wide and had him run NFL pass routes. That ability and willingness to use him in that manner are huge for Spiller’s value.

The route running and hand catching is the first thing that just jumps off the tape. Once he catches the ball in space he makes the first man miss a lot. I even saw a back-shoulder catch from Spiller. The Aggies used two backs, and he was a willing lead blocker for his teammate. He’s shifty and explosive with the football too, which is exactly what you want from a pass-catcher.

The knocks start with Spiller splitting touches, but I’ll be honest, I don’t care. See Javonte Williams and Michael Carter if you’re worried. The biggest concern I have is his rushing ability. Maybe I got bad games, but Spiller struggled versus lesser teams but ran well against Alabama. So, a little worrisome. He dances behind the line and struggles with his vision to consistently identify the correct hole.

Comps, Draft Capital, and Role

It’s hard to really predict draft capital with the injury, I think if Spiller gets in the top 100 picks he’s firmly tier two with Walker. Currently, he’s going early third, which is perfectly solid capital for an RB. Spiller is part of a timeshare at a minimum from day one, with the pass-catching role. My comparison is Arian Foster after seeing it from former NFLer Roman Harper.

Conclusion

The RB class this year has been much maligned, especially in fantasy. After the combine, I think Hall potentially busted into the top 10 dynasty RBs and is a clear 1.01 to me. Both Walker and Spiller have all the talent to make solid RB2s in fantasy, from year one, in the right fit. They’re much more volatile pre-draft though. I’ll easily take both in the top five picks though since they’re the clear second tier.


Thank you for reading my article! Please remember to follow me for more content via Twitter @FFFBallers  and @IDPGuys as well as check out my IDP Guys author page and the IDP Guys website.

Discussion

  1. […] first article in my series talked through the consensus top three RBs in rookie drafts. While they have a useful […]

  2. […] case you missed them, I wrote about the consensus top three as well as some bigger backs in this series so far. While draft capital will likely change some […]

  3. […] anyone who hasn’t seen the rest of my series, I wrote about the consensus top three, some bigger backs, and some upside passing down RBs so far. The guys discussed here are all […]

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