Running backs in a draft are all about supply and demand. With the position having so many options, from young veterans already in the league to other prospects in a particular class, it’s difficult for teams to target one in the first round, with the exception of rare workhorses such as 2021 first-round Najee Harris.
Although there’s no Harris-like player in the 2022 class, there’s one standout from a prolific season who has the most feature back characteristics, followed by the traditional slew of more complementary committee-type backs. Depending for what type a team is looking, there are plenty of value starting on Day 2 and going through Round 7.
Here’s breaking down the best of the backfield assets about to enter the league:
NFL Draft 2022 running back rankings
1. Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State (5-9, 212 pounds)
Walker’s amazing breakout season with the Spartans has shown he is the most complete back in this class with his speed, balance and elite block-reading skills. For teams still needing a trusty feature back and fresh, youthful legs after NFL free agency, he’s the ideal pick in the mid second round.
2. Breece Hall, Iowa State (5-11, 217 pounds)
Hall stands out with his ability to elude tacklers and explode for big plays in the open field. He can go from home-run hitter to more complete back. At first, he works well as a high-end change of pace working off a more traditional power back. He should go right around Walker in Round 2.
3. James Cook, Georgia (5-11, 219 pounds)
James isn’t strong and powerful enough to be a workhorse like his older brother Dalvin but he’s got great speed and quickness to be a strong complementary back. It’s difficult to deny the Bulldogs’ pipeline going back to Todd Gurley, Sony Michel, Nick Chubb and D’Andre Swift. Comparing Cook as an early third-rounder, his game can be most like Swift’s, another back in the NFC North.
4. Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M (6-0, 217 pounds)
Spiller is built to be a physical back in the NFL with his ability to grind and pound out all the tough yardage between the tackles. There are some concerns about his limited breakaway speed and explosiveness, but he can get the yards that are all there for the taking behind his blockers going downhill. He could go anywhere from late second round into late third round.
5. Brian Robinson, Alabama (6-2, 225 pounds)
Robinson is the latest big ‘Bama bruiser who will find a key pro role as an intimidating and strong-finishing power back. He’s not exactly Derrick Henry, but he’s not a T.J Yeldon type, either. He’s more of a bigger Damien Harris than someone who can handle all three down roles such as Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs. He would b be great forming a 1-2 punch with someone quicker for the passing game.
6. Rachaad White, Arizona State (6-0, 214 pounds)
White doesn’t explode with his speed but he does a lot of little things well to be either a reliable complementary power or receiving back. That will help some team looking to have a versatile committee vs. a pure skill set based one. He feels like the ideal fourth-round find to be Saquon Barkley’s new top backup with the Giants.
7. Hassan Haskins, Michigan (6-2, 228 pounds)
Haskins is a big, strong power back who can work well as a downhill complement between the tackles. He’s got many of the same no-nonsense qualities of Robinson just with a little lesser burst. He can also serve as good straight up backup, with the Titans behind Henry being a good fit.
8. Tyler Badie, Missouri (5-8, 197 pounds)
Badie is a dynamic change of pace back who can handle himself well with speed and pass-catching but also plays bigger than his size with some big power back traits when needed. Anywhere where’s the a veteran to pound through goal-line situations, there’s room for Badie to give him a break with some home-run ability. He would be a good fourth-round fit with many teams.
9. Tyler Allgeier, BYU (5-11, 224 pounds)
Allgeier is a strong, compact zone-scheme power runner who gets downhill well with some occasional big-play burst. He will need to be an early-down option and red zone finisher. He uses all of his skills as a converted linebacker to understand how to work through defenses. There’s some Ronald Jones to his game for sure.
10. Kyren Williams, Notre Dame (5-9, 194 pounds)
Williams is a bit of a misfit between smaller power back and scat back but he has some hard-running qualities and change-of-pace receiving appeal because of his hands. He also was very productive in college with his versatility playing with a good line against high-level competition. Williams slipped well into Day 3 with his limited workout showing, a good fifth-rounder for teams that want a smart, adjustable system player.