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2022 NFL DRAFT RANKINGS - RUNNING BACKS

Greg DePalma
02/02/2022 5:06PM ET

Here is my initial list of the top running backs for the 2022 NFL Draft.

The number in parentheses represents the ranking for the top overall players in the draft.

Click here to check out that list…ORDER 66
Click here to check out our QB list…QUARTERBACKS

This list will be updated following all-star week performances from the East/West Shrine Bowl (1/28 – 2/3) and the Senior Bowl (2/1 – 2/5) as well as individual player pro days and the NFL Combine (3/1 – 3/7).

RANKINGS

1 (25) Breece Hall, Iowa State (Jr.) Good size at 6-1, 220; 2020 and 2021 Big 12 OPOY; TD machine with 50 career rushing scores; ended his career with an FBS record 24 consecutive games with a touchdown; consistent for all three seasons including elite production on the ground the last two with 3,044 yards, 41 TDs and a 5.7 average; good receiver too with 82 career receptions while averaging an excellent 8.9 yards per catch; cousin of former San Francisco 49ers great Roger Craig.

2 (31) Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State (Jr.) 5-10, 210; Wake Forest transfer; 2021 Big 10 RBPOY; 2021 Walter Camp (POY) & Doak Walker Award winner (Top RB); 1,636 yards (2nd nationally) on a 6.2 yards per rush average with 18 TDs in 2021; very good at breaking tackles and yards after contact; not much of a receiver in college but did demonstrate the ability in high school.

3 (33) Rachaad White, ASU (RS Sr.) Good combination of speed and size at 6-2, 210; former JUCO who averaged a whopping 10 yards per rush in 2020 over just four games and then ran for 1,006 yards and 15 TDs in 2021 including a career-high 202 yards and three touchdowns vs. USC; was also the team’s second leading receiver last season with 43 receptions for 456 yards; smooth runner; effortless style; easy cut-back ability; runs like he can do whatever he wants, like the game is easy for him; elite receiving skills; I believe he has more ability and potential than any other runner in this class.

4 (58) Abram Smith, Baylor (Sr.) 5-11, 221; torn ACL as a sophomore in high school but still ended up a 2x All-State in Texas while rushing for 4,955 yards in 33 games over four seasons and returning two kicks for scores, which could end up an option for him in the NFL; played sparingly the first two seasons here and then suited up at linebacker in 2020 playing eight games while making four starts and averaging 11 ½ tackles during those starts; Smith switched back to running back in 2021 after the staff implemented a new wide zone running concept that they felt would be a great fit for his skill set; he justified their belief by breaking out with over 1,601 yards (5th nationally) and 12 TDs including a career-effort vs. BYU (188 and 3 TDs) and a 172-yard game in the Sugar Bowl win over Ole Miss; Smith has an excellent combination of speed and toughness (physical and mental) which was on full display as both a running back and a linebacker; he is an interesting prospect with a high football IQ and a great work ethic; so far he has not proven to be useful in the passing game.

5 (63) Zamir ‘Zeus’ White, Georgia (Jr.) 6-0, 215; 5-Star recruit and top-ranked running back prospect who combines track speed with a physical between the tackles style; as good a prospect he is, I do have concerns over his injury history and inability to prove he can be a true lead back on the next level; White never reached 900-yards rushing (856 and 11 TDs in 2021) in college and his best average per rush was just 5.41 in 2020; he tore his ACL in high school (2017) and failed to play in 2018 as a freshman after a knee injury in practice; he has also struggled in the passing game with only 17 career receptions and has received questionable marks as a pass blocker.

6 (65) Tyler Badie, Missouri (Sr.) Only 5-8, 194; 2021 1st-team SEC; in his first season as the Tigers leading rusher Badie exploded with 1,604 yards; he ranked third nationally in rushing yards per game with 133.6; had the most carries and second-most targets of any ‘Power 5’ running back in 2021 and accomplished this with limited size; very reliable without a fumble on 271 carries and only dropped one of his 68 targets; a complete back with 126 career receptions; quick to the hole and shows the burst to get into the open field; strong for his size and fast.

By Greg DePalma
The Draft Apprentice and Executive Producer of the Ourlads’ Football Network at Ourlads.com.