Breece Hall, Iowa State
Former Cyclone Breece Hall is the consensus top runner in this class, and I totally understand the hype when looking at him. In my opinion, he’s the only running back actually worth a first round pick, and a team like the Buffalo Bills could really use him. Hall is a hulking brute of a running back at 6’0 and 220 pounds, and he certainly uses his size to his advantage in his running style. Hall’s size firmly qualifies him as a bellcow running back, and his creativity makes him more elusive than most backs his size. He rips through tacklers with relative ease, which is certainly nice to see.
My biggest problem with Hall is that he lacks a sense of balance that could make him a truly elite runner. He’s more elusive than most backs his size, but that’s not because of any sense of shiftiness that comes from his game. Hall is extremely smart and sets up tacklers to fail, but he’s not shaking NFL defenders with his juke moves. I wish he had just a bit more burst in his game, but I understand that extreme patience might be part of his game by design.
Comparison: Hall’s patience is reminiscent of Le’Veon Bell, but his power reminds me of a less explosive Nick Chubb.
Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
Kenneth Walker III can fly. At 4.38, he plays even faster than his 40 time. Walker showcased that “leave you in the dust” speed plenty during his time with the Spartans. He’s built like a brick house, coming in at well over 200 pounds while standing at a compact 5’9. His footwork is second to none among running backs in this class, and it tells me that his elusiveness will translate to the professional level. Walker also showcased a high degree of power with Michigan State, tearing through tacklers like a much larger runner.
The worry with Walker is that his running style is… odd. He runs with exceptional levels of herk and jerk, and he seems to be indecisive with what he wants to do when he hits the hole. Once he gets to open space, Walker is gone, but it’s the “getting to open space” part that gives him problems. Walker runs into contact weirdly often, and I’m worried he might lack the vision to be a true three-down back in the NFL. I have faith in Walker on speed and power alone, but his penchant for seeking contact makes me raise an eyebrow.
Comparison: Frank Gore, but with the spastic running style of Alvin Kamara.
Dameon Pierce, Florida
Among running back, Dameon Pierce isn’t the fastest guy around. But personally, I am a massive fan of his. The NFL says he runs a 4.59-second 40 yard dash, but he plays so much faster on tape. Much like Walker, he stands at 5’9, but plays with a brand of power that is unrivaled by anyone in this running back class. Pierce is a ticking time bomb, ready to explode and rip off the big run on each and every play. His twitch, combined with the unmitigated violence he plays with, makes him my favorite runner in this entire class. Pierce breaks tackles like he doesn’t even notice them, and defenders bounce off of him before skidding to the ground like an anime villain after they just got punched by the protagonist.
I don’t understand why Pierce didn’t get more carries with the Gators, but that seems to be the main gripe that a lot of pro scouts have with him. Sure, he broke tackles at a 40% clip while he was in college, but how will that percentage hold up when he’s a three-down back in the NFL? Can he keep that up with a lot more tread on the tires? Pierce is just a step slower than the other runners in this class, but I’m not going to hold that against him. I love this guy as a day two pick.
Comparison: DeMarco Murray, and I personally think he can be a little better than Murray was in his prime.