2021 NFL Draft Prospects: Running Back



The top 2021 quarterback prospects available for the 2021 NFL Draft. * - denotes 2021 prospect. ** - denotes 2024 prospect.

This page was last updated Sept. 12, 2020. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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2020 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

2021 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

2022 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

  1. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
    Height: 5-10. Weight: 200.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.46.
    Projected Round (2021): 1-2.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: For the most part, Etienne played well for Clemson in 2019, showing the speed to break off long gains on any carry. He averaged 7.8 yards per carry for 1,614 yards with 19 touchdowns. He also had 37 receptions for 432 yards and four touchdowns.

    It wasn't all good for Etienne, who demonstrated some ball-security issues against Georgia Tech and North Carolina. The game against the Tar Heels was a rough tape as a blocker and runner for Etienne. However, he came up with a great receiving game to help Clemson beat Ohio State in the opening round of the playoffs. Etienne is a smaller runner who won't bring a lot of power or yards after contact to the NFL, but he could be a good weapon in a passing offense.

    Etienne is not the biggest of backs, but he runs hard and has explosive speed to break off long runs. In 2018, Etienne averaged 8.1 yards per carry for 1,658 yards with 24 touchdowns. He also caught 12 passes for 78 yards and two scores. If Etienne can add weight while maintaining his speed, he could rise.




  2. Kenny Gainwell**, RB, Memphis
    Height: 5-11. Weight: 191.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.47.
    Projected Round (2021): 1-3.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Gainwell was an electric playmaker for Memphis as a redshirt freshman in 2019 and jumped out to teams. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry on the year for 1,459 yards with 13 touchdowns. He also was a superb receiver out of the backfield, recording 51 receptions for 610 yards and three scores through the air.

    Gainwell is a fast and explosive back who is a threat to rip off a long gain on any touch. The 5-foot-11, 191-pounder could stand to get stronger for the NFL, but he is a young and has time to develop physically. After losing four members of his family to COVID-19, Gainwell decided to sit out the 2020 season and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.


  3. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
    Height: 6-2. Weight: 230.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.53.
    Projected Round (2021): 2-4.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: In 2019, Harris averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,224 yards with 13 touchdowns. He had 27 receptions for 304 yards and seen scores as a receiver. Harris flashed at times, but some scouts don't feel Harris is the same caliber as other recent Alabama running backs like Josh Jacobs, Damien Harris or Derrick Henry.

    Harris is a big back who has some quickness and athleticism for the NFL. Over the past few seasons, he did not run to his size and looked to bounce too many carries to the outside rather than use his power to run behind his pads in a physical manner. Late in 2019, especially against LSU and Mississippi State, Harris aggressively ran downhill with decisiveness. His tape from the back half of the 2019 season will help his future draft grade and definitely made him look like a better pro prospect compared to how he performed at the beginning of the season.

    Harris was a star recruit coming out of high school, and he has flashed a skill set with size, power and speed. As a freshman in 2017, he averaged 6.1 yards per carry for 370 yards with three touchdowns. Alabama didn't give him a lot of carries because of more experienced players ahead of him like Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough. He was expected to take on a bigger role as a sophomore, but Harris and Josh Jacobs beat out Harris for bigger roles. In 2018, Harris had only 117 carries, but averaged 6.7 yards per carry for 783 yards with four touchdowns.


  4. Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State
    Height: 5-11. Weight: 215.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.52.
    Projected Round (2021): 2-3.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: In 2019, Hill averaged 5.7 yards per carry for 1,347 yards with 10 scores. He had 17 receptions for 174 yards and a touchdown too. Hill played well for the Bulldogs, showing power and quickness, but they struggled to help Hill find good running lanes in a number of games in 2019. He has starting potential for the NFL and could stand to improve his receiving ability for the next level. Working with new head coach Mike Leach could really improve Hill's pass-catching talent.

    Hill showed some major talent during the 2018 season with quickness, strength, and natural running ability. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry for 734 yards with four touchdowns on only 117 carries. He also caught 22 passes for 176 yards and four touchdowns. Team sources have said that Hill jumped out at them and was impossible to ignore.




  5. C.J. Verdell*, RB, Oregon
    Height: 5-9. Weight: 210.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.52.
    Projected Round (2021): 2-4.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Verdell was a steady producer for Oregon in 2019, ripping off some big runs and having a monster performance against Utah in the Pac-12 Championship game. Verdell averaged 6.2 yards per carry in 2019 for 1,220 yards with eight touchdowns on the year. He also had 14 receptions for 125 yards. Verdell isn't a big back, but he has speed and cutting ability.


  6. Chuba Hubbard*, RB, Oklahoma State
    Height: 6-1. Weight: 207.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.52.
    Projected Round (2021): 2-4.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Hubbard took college football by storm in 2019, and he entered the final month of the regular season as the nation's leading rusher. Hubbard averaged 6.4 yards per carry in 2019 for 2,094 yards with 21 touchdowns. He had 23 catches for 198 yards as well.

    Hubbard lacks elite power and is a bit of a straight-line runner, but he has good vision and feel. Hubbard is a hard-charging back who has good contact balance with instincts. While Hubbard is a former track competitor, he is not a blazer. For the NFL, Hubbard has starting potential and can make some plays in the passing game. In speaking with some scouts, they feel that Hubbard could go in the second round.

    As a redshirt freshman, Hubbard averaged six yards per carry for 740 yards with seven touchdowns and 22 receptions for 229 yards and two scores.


  7. Kennedy Brooks*, RB, Oklahoma
    Height: 5-11. Weight: 209.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.56.
    Projected Round (2021): 3-5.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Brooks was the Sooners' feature back during the 2019 season and ran well for them. He showed nice quickness and has quality size. With Jalen Hurts in the NFL, Brooks could have taken on a larger workload as a junior because the Sooners may do less running with their quarterback, but Brooks decided to opt out of the 2020 season. It would have helped Brooks' draft stock to show more receiving ability in 2020.


  8. Rakeem Boyd, RB, Arkansas
    Height: 6-0. Weight: 213.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.56.
    Projected Round (2021): 3-5.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Boyd went under the radar in 2019, but he was one of the best backs in the SEC last season. The Razorbacks will probably increase Boyd's workload under new head coach Sam Pittman. Boyd had only 184 carries last year, but he still went over 1,100 yards and notched eight scores. Boyd has also shown some nice receiving ability for a big back, as had good reception totals as a sophomore (23-165) and junior (19-160).


  9. Larry Rountree III, RB, Missouri
    Height: 5-10. Weight: 210.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.5.
    Projected Round (2021): 3-5.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Team sources said that Rountree has a nice skill set with some speed to go along with a solid build. The Missouri offense had some struggles replacing Drew Lock in 2019, and that hurt the defensive fronts that Rountree faced. He has the skill set to produce a good senior year if he gets some help from the supporting cast.




  10. Keaontay Ingram*, RB, Texas
    Height: 6-0. Weight: 220.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.58.
    Projected Round (2021): 3-5.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Ingram is a built power back who is also a dangerous receiver out of the backfield. He was a nice outlet receiver for Sam Ehlinger over the past two seasons and showed an impressive ability to adjust to passes for a thickly built back. If Ingram shows the speed to hit the hole and dominates as a runner, he could become a rising prospect.


  11. Max Borghi*, RB, Washington State
    Height: 5-10. Weight: 197.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.56.
    Projected Round (2021): 3-5.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Borghi was a dangerous receiving back in Mike Leach's offense, making 86 catches as a sophomore and 53 as a freshman. He also is a hard-charging runner who has some quickness at the point of attack. For the NFL, Borghi needs to get stronger and add more weight to his frame. He has the potential to be a backup rotational back who contributes well in the passing game.


  12. Zamir White**, RB, Georgia
    Height: 6-0. Weight: 215.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.56.
    Projected Round (2021): 3-5.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: With D'Andre Swift in the NFL, White could take over as the feature back for Georgia in his redshirt sophomore year. White flashed ability as a freshman, running hard on 78 carries. With a new offensive line and a lack of talent at wide receiver, White could get a big work load with hopes of him helping to take the pressure off of Georgia's new starting quarterback.


  13. Chris Curry**, RB, LSU
    Height: 6-0. Weight: 215.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.53.
    Projected Round (2021): 3-5.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Curry was a backup in 2019 to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but Curry did well enough on only 38 carries and in practice for NFL advance scouts to place him on their watch list for the 2020 season. With Edwards-Helaire playing for the Chiefs and LSU breaking in a new quarterback, Curry could become the workhorse for the Tigers' offense.


  14. John Lovett, RB, Baylor
    Height: 6-0. Weight: 212.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.59.
    Projected Round (2021): 5-7.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Lovett ran hard for Baylor as a junior on only 103 carries. That was the third straight season in which Lovett was used in a platoon, as he had 109 carries as a sophomore and 98 in his freshman campaign. Lovett will need a big senior year and show that he can be a workhorse in order to rise.




  15. Elijah Mitchell, RB, La.-Lafayette
    Height: 5-11. Weight: 217.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.53.
    Projected Round (2021): 3-5.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Mitchell was part of a three-headed monster at La.-Lafayette in 2019. The Ragin' Cajuns had three running backs on the preseason watch list for the 2020 NFL Draft, and this year, the team has Trey Ragas and Mitchell back on the list. Mitchell led the trio in rushing last year, as the coaches gave him more carries (198) than Raymond Calais (117) and Ragas (116). Mitchell has workhorse potential, and it will be interesting to see how he handles more of a work load as a senior now that Calais is in the NFL.


  16. Trey Ragas, RB, La.-Lafayette
    Height: 5-11. Weight: 218.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.55.
    Projected Round (2021): 3-5.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Ragas another was part of the three-headed monster La.-Lafayette fielded in 2019. The Ragin' Cajuns had three running backs on the preseason watch list for the 2020 NFL Draft, and this year, the team has Ragas and Elijah Mitchell back on the list. Ragas showed some nice running ability with quickness to go along with good size as a junior. It will be interesting to see how he and Mitchell perform with larger work loads in 2020.


  17. Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
    Height: 6-0. Weight: 221.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.58.
    Projected Round (2021): 4-6.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Sermon played at Oklahoma over 2017-2019 before transferring to Ohio State for his senior year. His best season came as a sophomore, but as a junior, the Sooners turned to Kennedy Brooks and Jalen Hurts to lead their rushing attack. Sermon has some talent along with good size, so he had a shot at a good amount of carries for the Buckeyes as they looked to replace J.K. Dobbins.


  18. Rhamondre Stevenson, RB/FB, Oklahoma
    Height: 6-0. Weight: 232.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.56.
    Projected Round (2021): 4-6.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Stevenson had only 64 carries in 2019, but he turned them into 515 yards - 8.0 average - and six touchdowns. That production was enough to land Stevenson on NFL teams' preseason watch list for the 2021 NFL Draft. The NCAA suspended Stevenson, but Oklahoma is appealing his suspension.


  19. Ja-Maine Martin, RB, North Carolina A&T
    Height: 5-10. Weight: 214.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.55.
    Projected Round (2021): 4-6.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Martin started out his career at Coastal Carolina, but in 2019, he had an impressive season for North Carolina A&T. He showed some quickness with an average of 8.3 yards per carry while totaling 1,246 yards and 20 touchdowns on only 151 carries. On top of quickness, Martin has a strong build and runs hard.


  20. Master Teague III**, RB, Ohio State
    Height: 5-11. Weight: 220.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.58.
    Projected Round (2021): 4-6.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Teague will compete with Trey Sermon and other holdover backs for playing time in a typically crowded Ohio State backfield. In 2019, he was a solid backup to J.K. Dobbins, and Teague handled his duties well as a redshirt freshman. Teague has the talent to break out as a sophomore or junior.


  21. Josh Johnson, RB, Louisiana-Monroe
    Height: 5-9. Weight: 215.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.56.
    Projected Round (2021): 4-6.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Johnson was a hard runner for La.-Monroe in 2019 and was impressive enough to earn a spot on NFL teams' preseason watch list. It was his first season as a starter, and the JUCO product could be even better as a senior now that he has a year of FBS experience.


  22. Devin Wynn, RB, Furman
    Height: 6-0. Weight: 203.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.58.
    Projected Round (2021): 5-7.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Wynn showed a nice skill set for Furman as a junior, running with quickness and quality size. For the NFL, it would help him to add 10-15 pounds to hold up against bigger defenders.


  23. Asim Rose, RB, Kentucky
    Height: 6-1. Weight: 210.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.58.
    Projected Round (2021): 5-7.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Rose had the challenge of following a legend in the program, as he was the replacement for Benny Snell in 2019. Rose had a solid debut in 2019, averaging 5.5 yards per carry for 826 yards and six touchdowns, but Kentucky was forced to turn wide receiver Lynn Bowden into a running quarterback, and Bowden led the Wildcats on the ground with a prolific season. In 2020, Rose could be Kentucky's feature back, and he has the upside to produce more as a senior.


  24. Javian Hawkins**, RB, Louisville
    Height: 5-9. Weight: 182.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.49.
    Projected Round (2021): 5-7.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Hawkins was an impressive runner for Louisville in 2019, showing a burst and an ability to handle a workload despite being undersized. For the next level, Hawkins needs to fill out his frame and show more receiving ability.


  25. Tyler King, RB, Marshall
    Height: 6-0. Weight: 190.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.49.
    Projected Round (2021): 5-7.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: King has breakaway speed, and Marshall missed him in 2019, as he was out for the majority of the season with a leg injury. King showed his big play potential in 2017 and 2018. He needs to stay healthy and show more receiving ability as a senior.


  26. Brenden Knox*, RB, Marshall
    Height: 6-0. Weight: 220.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.56.
    Projected Round (2021): 5-7.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Knox picked up the slack in 2019 with Tyler King out due to injury to put together a solid year for Marshall. While King is a speed back, Knox is a power runner and showed the ability to handle a big workload. The speed to be quick enough for the next level will be the key factor for Knox to address as a junior.


  27. Chris Evans, RB, Michigan
    Height: 5-11. Weight: 216.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.52.
    Projected Round (2021): 5-7.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Evans is a quick and shifty runner who also can contribute in the passing game. He missed the 2019 season because of academic issues, but Michigan is said to be excited to re-incorporate Evans into its offense. He needed a big season as a runner and receiver to help his draft stock.


  28. Nate McCrary, RB, Saginaw Valley
    Height: 6-1. Weight: 225.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.59.
    Projected Round (2021): 5-7.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: McCrary was a power runner for Saginaw Valley State over the past few seasons and was impressive enough to get on NFL teams' preseason radar. It would help him to impress at an all-star game against a higher caliber of competition.


  29. Pooka Williams Jr., RB, Kansas
    Height: 5-10. Weight: 170.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.49.
    Projected Round (2021): 5-7.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Willams is extremely undersized for the NFL, but he was very productive for Kansas over the past two seasons. Even though he is very light, Williams topped 200 carries last year while going over 1,000 yards with an average above five yards. On top of being a tough runner, Williams is a good receiver, making 60 catches over the past two seasons. Williams definitely needs to add weight for the next level.


  30. Vave Malepeai, RB, USC
    Height: 6-0. Weight: 220.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.58.
    Projected Round (2021): 6-FA.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Malepeai has been a rotational back, but he has also flashed some ability the past couple of seasons. He is a big back who packs a punch at the point of attack. Malepeai needs a big season as the feature back to rise.


  31. Mekhi Sargent, RB, Iowa
    Height: 5-9. Weight: 212.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.56.
    Projected Round (2021): 6-FA.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Sargent was a tough runner for Iowa over the past two seasons. He flashed some receiving ability to go along with being an undersized runner who can function between the tackles. A big 2020 season could have helped him rise.


  32. Charles Williams, RB, UNLV
    Height: 5-9. Weight: 190.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.55.
    Projected Round (2021): 6-FA.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Williams needs to get bigger and stronger for the NFL, but he flashed some potential in a breakout junior year. Williams missed the 2017 season with an injury.


  33. JaQuan Hardy, RB, Tiffin
    Height: 5-10. Weight: 225.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.56.
    Projected Round (2021): 6-FA.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Hardy has served as a power back for Tiffin, assembling a career average of 6.4 yards per carry over three seasons. He has been a workhorse, but he needed a big senior year with a strong all-star game performance to rise. Hardy missed the 2018 season and has nine career fumbles, so he has to improve his ball security.


  34. Spencer Brown, RB/FB, UAB
    Height: 6-1. Weight: 220.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.56.
    Projected Round (2021): 7-FA.
    View Ranking History


    9/12/20: Brown is a big back who put up impressive production over the past few years. To start out 2020, he had a good performance against Central Arkansas. Brown averaged 3.8 yards per carry in 2019 for 566 yards and five touchdowns. He also made three receptions for 16 yards. In 2018, Brown averaged 4.5 yards per carry for 1,227 yards for 16 touchdowns. He caught eight passes for 20 yards and a touchdown as well. In the 2017 season, he averaged 5.3 yards per carry for 1,329 yards with 10 touchdowns.

    Brown may not have the speed to stay at running back in the NFL, but he could gain weight and play some fullback.




2020 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

2021 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

2022 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P





 








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