As we continue to break down the rookie running backs pre-draft, you can circle back to the opening post of RBs 1-6 to get a little more background on the top of the position and some of the methodology that goes into the ranks. You can also head here to find the rest of the rookie rankings done so far and all 2021 fantasy rankings that will be updated throughout the offseason.
We will be adding more athletic testing info here as it rolls in, but let’s continue to plug away at the rest of this running back class. The secondary group of running backs in this draft class have varying degrees of anticipated draft capital. We could see any of these plays go as early as the second or third round, or in the fifth round or later.
6. Michael Carter, North Carolina, FY Age: 21.7 (MR: RB10)
The other part of the UNC rookie backfield tandem, Carter actually out-gained Javonte Williams in each of the past two seasons while he closed his collegiate career down with 8.0 yards per carry and 10.7 yards per reception on his way to 1,512 yards and 11 touchdowns. Carter rushed for 1,000 yards in each of those seasons, while tacking on 20-plus receptions in each of his past three. Checking in at 5’8”, 202 pounds at the Senior Bowl, Carter’s build will have the majority of staffs place him in some sort of rotation with a lean towards a receiving angle.
From an objective stance, he looks a lot like James White coming out of Wisconsin, who had 643 carries over four seasons in college, but has since racked up 309 carries in his NFL career. Carter can land in a spot to give him more of a runway as a rusher, but he will be valued for fantasy on the strength of his receiving role.
7. Kylin Hill, Mississippi State, FY Age: 22.4 (MR: RB4)
Coming off 1,520 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019, Hill only appeared in three games before opting out in 2020. While he struggled on the ground (15 carries for 58 yards), Hill racked up an impressive 23 catches for 237 yards in that small sample. Hill (5’11” and 210 pounds) has that tweener-size that can swing in either direction next level, but he had already shown he could carry rushing opportunities in 2019 with 242 carries. Showcasing enough dual-threat ability, Hill came out of his Pro Day in the 64th percentile in speed score, 75th percentile in explosion, and 26th percentile in agility score.
8. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State, FY Age: 21.6 (MR: RB13)
What a difference a year made for Hubbard. Coming off a ridiculous 2019 season in which he amassed 2,292 yards and 21 scores on 351 touches, Hubbard declined to enter the NFL last offseason and then had his production stifled in 2020 before having a falling out with the coaching staff.
Prior to his early exit this season after seven games, Hubbard had seen his yards per touch go from 6.6 and 6.5 over his first two seasons down to 4.8 per touch in 2020 while his receiving role dwindled down to next to irrelevant, catching just eight passes for 52 yards after averaging 10.4 and 8.6 yards per grab over his first two seasons.
Listed at 6’0” and 210 pounds, Hubbard is right on that cusp of swinging in either direction on the spectrum of future usage as a feature back or committee back. Hubbard was a Canadian track star before heading to Oklahoma State, that speed was a hallmark of his game as nine of his 36 touchdowns were from 30 yards or longer. Hubbard has only played American football for three years and one of his years was truly special, giving him upside still if given an opportunity. Hubbard was not as fast as expected at his Pro Day (in the 4.48 and 4.50 range), but that still places him in a strong area for speed score (67th percentile).
9. Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech, FY Age: 22.7 (MR: RB18)
After four years at Kansas, in which he posted 701 yards from scrimmage or fewer in each season with a high of 128 touches, Herbert exited Kansas for Virginia Tech where he exploded for 1,362 yards and nine scores on 165 touches. His 8.2 yards per touch led all running backs in college in 2020 that handled 100-plus touches as Herbert produced 28.1% of his team’s yardage gained (third in this class) on just 39.1% of the team touches (14th in this class). Herbert’s late breakout as a fifth-year player is a red flag for the model, but strapped in a timeshare at Kansas, Herbert also averaged 8.7 yards per touch in 2019. At 5’8” and 210 pounds at his Pro Day, Herbert checked out in the 53rd percentile athletically.
10. Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana, FY Age: 22.7 (MR: RB17)
Mitchell was the standout of the Louisiana backfield combo, turning 576 career touches into 3,864 yards (6.7 yards per touch) and 46 touchdowns. Mitchell broke out as a sophomore, averaging 6.7 yards per carry on 146 carries and 17.5 yards per catch on 20 receptions while scoring 16 touchdowns. Mitchell’s receptions fell in each of the past two seasons from the season prior, but he closed his career with three-straight seasons over 1,000 yards from scrimmage sharing significant work with Trey Ragas. At his Pro Day, Mitchell was 15 pounds lighter (201 pounds) than his listed playing weight, but had one of the more impressive showings among this running back group, registering an 91st percentile physical score in the model.
11. Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State, FY Age: 20.7 (MR: RB7)
Jefferson is right on that requisite size threshold (5’10” and 206 pounds) and has shown workhorse capability already while being the third-youngest back in this class. As a true freshman at age-18 in 2018, Jefferson racked up 1,527 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Jefferson’s 20.6 career touches per game are the most for a back in this class while his 108.3 rushing yards per game are second. Playing attached to an anemic passing offense, Jefferson was tasked with carrying the Oregon State production in 2020. He handled 58.3% of the team touches, which was sixth in this class, but accounted for 32.3% of his team’s yards from scrimmage, the highest rate among this class. After catching 25 passes as a freshman, he was minimally used in that department the past two seasons, catching nine passes in each season.
At his Pro Day, Jefferson did not help his cause by closing the event out as ninth percentile overall athlete at his position.
12. Rhamandre Stevenson, Oklahoma, FY Age: 22.9 (MR: RB8)
A JUCO transfer, Stevenson only played 19 games for Oklahoma and played 235 total snaps. He was suspended to open the 2020 season due to a positive marijuana test prior to the 2019 bowl game.
But in that stretch of games on the field, Stevenson produced 1,478 yards and 13 scores. Stevenson is a tank. Rumored to be near 247 pounds at Oklahoma, he officially checked in at 5’11” and 227 pounds at the Senior Bowl. Stevenson did log 1.6 receptions per game at Oklahoma, but projects to be more of a two-down and goal line component to an offense.
Stevenson had an absolutely rough showing at his Pro Day, registering as a 31st percentile athlete at his position. His 4.63 40-yard time is not horrendous for his size, but his measured explosion (31.5″ vertical and a 9’4″ broad) to go with extremely low agility output with a 4.47 20-yard shuttle signal that he is limited to solely as a two-down banger next level.
13. Jaret Patterson, Buffalo, FY Age: 21.0 (MR: RB6)
From a production stance, Patterson’s 20.5 touches and 121.4 rushing yards per game are the best in this class. In his three seasons at Buffalo, Patterson, turned 656 touches into 4,155 yards and 53 touchdowns while his yards per touch went from 5.7 to 6.2 and 7.6 yards. Patterson also had a two-game run this past season in which he posted lines of 31-301-4 and 36-409-8, which would have been solid seasons for a number of backs. While the production profile on the ground is stellar, potential issues on Patterson’s jump to the next level stem from his level of competition, physical profile (5’6” and 195 pounds at his Pro Day), and his lack of receiving work, catching 20 passes in 32 games, with zero receptions in 2020. But when Patterson did catch the football, he averaged 13.6 yards on that small number of grabs.
14. Javian Hawkins, Louisville, FY Age: 21.2 (MR: RB12)
Hawkins is an electric back that turned in 5.9 and 6.4 yards per touch the past two seasons at Louisville with 17 scores. After just five receptions over his first two seasons, Hawkins had an uptick to 16 catches in 2020 in just eight games. The downside with Hawkins is that at 5’8” and 183 pounds, he does not have the requisite size to command a lot of touches and does not have the receiving pedigree of some of the other backs in his archetype in this class.
15. Pooka Williams, Kansas, FY Age: 21.5 (MR: RB22)
Williams hit the scene at age 18 with 1,414 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018 while averaging 7.3 yards per touch. From that point on, Williams’s yards per carry, yards per reception, and touchdown production declined each season while stuck in the cesspool that was the Kansas offense. Appearing in just four games in 2020, Williams decided to opt out for the remainder of the season after 57 touches for 227 yards and a pair of scores. There is no doubt that Williams is aesthetically dynamic. He offers receiving acumen (his 2.5 catches per game are third in this class) and return ability (he averaged 24.6 yards per kickoff return).
The problem for Williams is that he is a master of none back. His speed is apparent and he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, but he also weighed in at just 175 pounds. His most obvious comparison as a prospect is Dexter McCluster and it is hard to diagnose how many touches he can rack up at the next level at running back. There have been just 14 top-24 seasons from backs below 190 pounds since 1990, with nine of those seasons coming from Warrick Dunn.
16. Demetric Felton, UCLA, FY Age: 22.5 (MR: RB11)
Felton is another rookie back who has a receiver background, playing wideout at UCLA his first two seasons before transitioning to running back. In just six games in 2020, Felton posted 827 yards with 22 receptions. He had 25-plus carries in three of those six games to showcase some durability, but after checking in at 189 pounds at the Senior Bowl and getting all of his buzz surrounding his receiving drills (and he scored a touchdown in the game split out wide). Felton may not have a full-time home in the NFL as someone who accrues a ton of rushing volume and inevitably I see him making a full position change next level, which hurts his stock.
- Stevie Scott, Indiana, FY Age: 20.6 (MR: RB14)
As an 18-year-old freshman, Scott posted 1,223 yards and 11 scores on 244 touches. Scott rushed for double-digit scores in all three of his seasons at Indiana, but his efficiency fell off each season, all the way down to just 3.8 yards per touch in 2020. After six 100-yard rushing games as a freshman, Scott had just three 100-yard games over the past two seasons. What Scott does have going for him is that he is the youngest running back in this class and has the measurable size (6’2” and 230 pounds) and workhorse resume to handle touches. Scott’s 19.9 touches per game in college rank third in this class.
- Larry Rountree, Missouri, FY Age: 22.9 (MR: RB9)
No back has more career touches in this class than Rountree. As a four-year back, Rountree racked up 793 touches as a workhorse. In 2020, he handled 59.5% of the Missouri rushing attempts and produced 71.9% of the team rushing yardage, the highest rates in this class. His best season came in 2018 when he tallied 1,278 yards and 11 scores before a down 2019 season that saw his yards per touch dip from 5.3 to 4.5 yards. He climbed up to 4.8 yards per touch and 14 touchdowns in his final season. Never showcasing much receiving upside, Rountree averaged just 6.1 yards per catch over his career. At his Pro Day, Rountree registered in just the 12th percentile among running back prospects since 2000.
- Trey Ragas, Louisiana, FY Age: 24.2 (MR: RB19)
Ragas was the second part of the productive Louisiana backfield. Ragas racked up over 800 yards and nine touchdowns in all four of his collegiate seasons. After a 1,410 yard season in 2018, Ragas gave more runway to Elijah Mitchell as the headpin in the backfield, but still closed his career with 6.2 yards per touch. Listed at 5’10 and 217 pounds with single-digit receptions in three of his four seasons, Ragas has the look of an early-down depth back that is one of the oldest prospects in this class. While Mitchell shined at the Louisiana Pro Day, Ragas came out in the 10th percentile of measured athleticism at his position.
- Brenden Knox, Marshall, FY Age: N/A (MR: RB15)
Knox averaged over 5.0 yards per touch in all three seasons at Marshall despite those numbers declining each season from the year prior. Rushing for 21 touchdowns the past seasons and checking in at 6’0” and 223 pounds, Knox checks the boxes for size and scoring profile as an early-down depth back. He caught only 27 passes in 29 games played, but did average 8.9 yards per reception when he did catch the ball. At his Pro Day, Knox checked out in the 13th percentile for physical performance score among all backs since 2000.
- Gary Brightwell, Arizona, FY Age: N/A (MR: RB20)
Brightwell does not have much of a production profile to speak of, failing to clear 534 yards in any collegiate season on just 264 career touches. After three years as a role player, Brightwell was finally the lead back, but Arizona was able to get on the field for just five games this season. While his workload rose to 20.2 touches per game, he posted a career-low 4.4 yards per touch. At his Pro Day, Brightwell scored in the 50th percentile in athleticism.
- Chris Evans, Michigan, FY Age: 23.2 (MR: RB23)
Evans averaged over 5.6 yards per touch in all four years at Michigan, but finding touches was a consistent problem. Evans cleared 100 touches in just one season with a high of 151 touches. In his senior season, Evans was nearly completely phased out with just 25 touches in six games. Evans did have a sensational Pro Day, coming out in the 85th percentile athletically at his position.
- Rakeem Boyd, Arkansas, FY Age: 22.9 (MR: RB21)
A JUCO transfer that was committed to Texas A&M, Boyd transferred to Arkansas in 2018. In his first two seasons there, Boyd produced 6.2 yards and 6.4 yards per touch, highlighted by 1,293 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019. The six games that Boyd played in 2020 were a struggle, limited to just 3.7 yards per touch and three scores. Boyd had a rough Pro Day, ranking in just the 6th percentile in physical performance score since 2000.
- Josh Johnson, Louisiana-Monroe, FY Age: N/A (MR: RB24)
Johnson is another back who crushed in 2019, but then struggled in the limited season of 2020. After 1,420 yards and 11 touches (6.6 yards per touch), Johnson produced just 382 yards for 3.6 yards per touch over eight games.
Bringing things home, there are a few backs that were not invited to the combine that still had some noteworthy production. Darwin Thompson has been the only non-combine invite running back to be drafted the past two seasons, so these backs are already working uphill based on initial perception from the league and we’ll collectively consider them running back 25 on these rankings.
JaQuan Hardy (5’10” and 217 pounds) is a small school darling for many after he ran for 141.3 yards per game and 15 touchdowns at Tiffin University this past season.
It is a surprise that Spencer Brown was not on the radar apparently. Brown started his career out at UAB with seasons of 1,371 yards and 10 touchdowns and 1,247 yards and 17 touchdowns. After a down 2019 season where he fell to 3.8 yards per touch and five touchdowns, Brown bounced back with 924 yards and 10 scores in eight games in 2020. At 6’0” and 220 pounds, Brown has the requisite size with production under his belt, but with just 20 receptions and 5.7 yards per catch, there is limited receiving upside.
Deon Jackson broke out in 2018 with 1,100 yards and 5.9 yards per touch at Duke, but managed to produce just 4.3 yards and 4.5 yards per touch the past two seasons. Jackson was not going to get a combine invite, but may have helped himself at his Pro Day with an 74th percentile athletic score at 5’11” and 218 pounds.
C.J. Marable was a productive back all three seasons at Coastal Carolina, turning in 899, 1,380, and 1,115 yards over the past three years with eight, 14, and 19 touchdowns. Marable closed the season strong with three 100-yard games over his final four games of 2020, rushing for seven touchdowns over that span. Marable also secured 38 and 31 receptions the past two seasons.
Jake Funk was a five-year player at Maryland with only 158 career touches as he was oft-injured (two ACL tears) and stuck behind Anthony McFarland and Javon Leake, but averaged 7.0 yards per touch when called upon. Funk also made some noise at his Pro Day by checking out in the 81st percentile at this position athletically.