Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
Isaiah Spiller’s as smooth as they come in terms of balance and style. The former Aggie processes the defense quicker and more accurately than any other running back, and maybe even some quarterbacks, in this class. He’s an extremely smart player, and can make any single cut at any given time. The ability he possesses to be unpredictable yet controlled is something to behold in Spiller’s game. He struggled in 2021 because of his offensive line, but his earlier tape shows a supremely talented runner with limitless potential in the open field.
Spiller is wickedly smooth, but is a little bit too loose with the football when he’s getting tackled. I worry about forced fumbles at the next level, and that potential for turnovers scares me enough to lower his grade quite a bit. His subpar blocking got the best of him in 2021, and inhibited his mental game. Spiller became wildly indecisive and inconsistent during his final college year. If he had the talent up front in 2021 like he did in 2020, he might be considered this class’s best runner outside of the fumble issues. That being said, the bad blockers doomed him to inefficiency.
Comparison: Rashaad Penny, with some extra speed and smoothness to him.
Brian Robinson Jr., Alabama
Alabama produces more high-quality running backs than any other university in the country, and Brian Robinson Jr. is just the next in a laughably long line. Robinson provides shades of Derrick Henry’s time with Alabama, standing at an intimidating 6’2 and 225 pounds of muscle. For such a big running back, Robinson’s footwork is clean and quick, which allows him to be more elusive than the average battering ram. When he gets going in the open field, defenders don’t want to handle him. You can’t brawl with this grappler; he’ll flatten you.
Robinson might be the class’s premier big running back, but he’s still carrying around some durability concerns. Robinson invites contact, and that’s awesome, but he does it a little bit too much. I don’t care how big of a running back you are, eventually something is going to go wrong. In addition to that, he doesn’t have that elite second gear you’re looking for in a running back. He’s going to get at one speed and stay there, and his tape often leaves me wanting more. As a late day two guy? Sure, I guess. But I think I’d hold off until the fourth round for him.
Comparison: I’ve mentioned it before, but I see a very poor man’s Derrick Henry in Robinson. Don’t expect Henry-like production, but the traits are there.