Top 10 Running Backs in the 2021 NFL Draft
Everyone loves running backs. From Fantasy Football owners to the best player on every pee wee team, the running back is always such a fun position. While there might not be any Adrian Petersons in this class, there will still be many players that will carry great value in our football mystery boxes.
Javonte Williams - UNC
This is likely not the popular choice with Najee Harris and Travis Etienne still on the board, but after breaking down Williams tape, it’s difficult to deny how talented this kid really possesses. He set the record at PFF for tackles broken percentage and has all of the traits to be a 3-down back. He might not be the popular choice, but I would be shocked to see his signed jersey carry the most value a year from now.
Najee Harris - Alabama
After many assumed he would enter the NFL after his junior campaign, Harris decided to go back to school, and probably earned himself a lot of money by doing so. Harris went from being the 5th or 6th RB off of the board in 2020, to being the presumed top back in the 2021 class. At 6’2 230 lbs, it isn’t difficult to see why so many teams could want him being their featured ball carrier.
Travis Etienne - Clemson
Etienne is the ACC’s all-time leading rusher and has shown a rare ability to accelerate past defenders going from 0-60 in a blink of an eye. While it is possible that Etienne could be taken in round 1, it seems very likely that the Clemson back is taken in round 2 of the NFL Draft.
Kenneth Gainwell - Memphis
This is the time where we start to enter a different tier. Gainwell is a very talented back but lacks 3 down size and the strength that come with it. That said, Gainwell is a very talented pass catcher and has good speed and vision. After missing the 2020 season, his stock may have fallen a bit, but he could still become a very good back.
Kylin Hill - Mississippi St.
Overall, there’s not too many backs in this class that have prototypical size and speed at the position, but Kylin Hill does. On top of that he has proven to be both a threat in the running games as well as the receiving game. He is one of the few backs that have a shot at a 3-down role.
Jaret Patterson - Buffalo
You don’t often see running backs that are 5’6 become successful, however, at 195 lbs, Patterson has a great BMI and shows off incredible movement skills and feel for finding the hole on the defense. He also had a game this season where he 8 rushing touchdowns! This mighty mite, might not have ideal size but I think the rest of his skill set more than make up for it!
Michael Carter - UNC
North Carolina isn’t typically known for producing running backs, but this class has two very good ones. Carter won’t be a between the tackles grinder, but could win at the NFL level as a shifty pass catcher.
Trey Sermon - Ohio State
Sermon played most of his career at Oklahoma but transferred in his final year to Ohio State. He had a very pedestrian campaign until he averaged 200 yards per game in his final 3 games. He is a boom bust prospect that could hit it big if given the chance.
Jermar Jefferson - Oregon St.
Like most of the PAC-12, Oregon St didn’t get to play much in 2021. However, whenever Jefferson did get on the field, he made plays happen. In only 6 games he rushed for 858 yards and 7 touchdowns. Likely an early day 3 pick.
Herbert wasn't on many draft radars before his transfer to VT. However, this 5’8 210 lb running back turned some heads in this final season and he could find himself with early to mid day 3 draft capital.