• Andrew Woodruff

Ranking The 2022 RB Class

Twitter: @_DEVYScout

It’s officially draft season now that the last college football game with the Senior Bowl complete. So with that, I wanted to start looking at maybe the most diverse opinion group from the Twitter analyst group out there and look at the running backs we will see in the 2022 class. I am focusing on the current knowledge of their college production and how it stacks up with the 2017-2021 class for a good comparison of what the NFL ends up favoring either subconsciously or intentionally. After gathering most of the names from 2017 to this present-day class, I ended up with 101 players. Let’s look at my results and how that may play out with the NFL combine and actual NFL draft on April 28th-30th.


The Tiers

The more total points we see them get, the better tier they end up in after the process. I used what was on College Football Sports Reference for everyone for games played. My bucket tiers for just the production metrics ranged from 1 to 12 points. I will start with the lower groupings and work our way up to the spicy top players to know. After the combine, our players could jump up anywhere from 0-4 more points. I did a mix of career stats and efficiency stats to showcase the efficiency and ability to handle workloads over time. The following categories are how they could get one point (or one-tier jump) for each positive they have:

For the first group, I will put the backs from 1 point to 4 points together for us to see. Dameon Pierce only scored one point for optimal workhorse weight. That is troubling for a Senior bowl week winner. Big red flag to not overspend on that profile because we know Dan Mullen favors his veterans, and Pierce still never could do much. Now for the rookies, we see in these tiers, Pierce, Davis-Price, Harris, Smith, and Badie all currently could go up a group dependent on their rookie age. Besides Jacobs, every other player was a day three or undrafted prospect. Expect something similar for most of this group as they do not test well with the previous player who improved the most tiers was Carson. Only four of these players were early declarations showing even further concerns that they did not hit several career and game marks. These guys who have already been to the NFL show they need to land in the perfect position and circumstances like injuries because most did not land an immediate shot to lead.

After looking over the NFL combine results and draft capital, these groups ended up in the 6-10 point range. The 5 point production collection showed promise with CEH, Kerryon Johnson, Damien Harris, and Vaughn. For those already in the NFL, most showed enough to jump up anyway from the 6-8 point tier. Many were early declares, but they only managed minimal college production or carried size concerns. The six-point production tier is a lot of NFL guys that should give some perspective of what kind of potential we can see if the rookies show off. Some rookies may jump a tier pre-combine depending on their birthdays with Max Borghi, Keontay Ingram, and Leddie Brown.

Tier 7 and 8 start the more intriguing prospects we start truly considering with early draft capital in rookie drafts. Many had a common trend of undersized with Ito Smith, Justin Jackson, Bryce Love, Donnel Pumphrey, Myles Gaskin, Jerrion Ealy, Ronald Jones, and Aaron Jones. Thirteen of the twenty-two NFL players reached tier 10 or higher which is our rookie draft tiers. Nine of those such players were also day 1 or 2 draft picks which match the ones I recommend considering. It also helps find our late gems like Antonio Gibson, Elijah Mitchell, Alvin Kamara, and Aaron Jones. Our four rookies here could offer some decent surprises with as little buzz as three of these four guys have received.

Now, these are the ones we all wanted to see and where they ranked in past years. I do not guarantee Spiller or Hall is on the same level as those tiers but shows a ton of upside. McNichols and Benjamin were the only outliers with their draft capital. Carter and Hubbard had some risk but have shown promise after one season. I know I have been hyping up four of these names, but McCormick's appearance surprised me. I discussed on the Devy Talk Podcast about McCormick in a weaker conference, but he has a chance to be the highest-scoring running back since McNichols and Mitchell in this model. A surprising performance in testing and decent draft capital of late second or early third days may make him a name to know similar to Carter last year.


What do we have to see going forward?

A good showing from the combine and seeing what the NFL thinks on draft nights could lead to some big jumps in the final tiers they land. For now, I included them in the tiers they currently would be if they tested poorly and went late in the draft.

For my taste, I would love to focus most of my draft capital on guys in the top six tiers for rookie drafts. With 2022 and who may fall into that range for the first three rounds would be Spiller, Hall, Allgeier, Walker III, McCormick, Brooks, Ealy, Knight, Rachaad White, Kyren Williams, Ingram, and Goodson. We already have seen the production be sufficient; it will highly depend on their speed and burst scores before the NFL decides. The other rookies may be best to leave as last-round dart throws since I do not expect any Jacobs or CEH rises from this class and into our rookie drafts.